Liferay Portal is a web platform with features normally needed for the development of websites and portals. The platform includes a built-in web content management system which allows users to build websites and portals containing themes, pages, portlets/gadgets and a common navigation.
Liferay is also sometimes described as a content management framework or a web application framework. The platform supports plugins through multiple programming languages, including support for PHP and Ruby portlets.
Even though Liferay provides a sophisticated programming interface for developers, programming skills aren’t required for basic website installation and administration. Liferay Portal is Java-based and runs on any computing platform capable of running the Java Runtime Environment and an application server, it is also available bundled with a servlet container like Apache Tomcat.
Liferay Portal was created in 2000 by chief software architect Brian Chan to provide an enterprise portal solution for non-profit organizations.
Liferay’s enterprise portal has been acknowledged by several notable organizations. It was recognized by EContent magazine in its “EContent 100” list of industry leaders and in 2007, InfoWorld named it a “Technology of the Year”.
Liferay is distributed in two different editions:
Liferay Portal community edition is a version with the latest features and support through an active community. Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition is a commercial offering that includes services including updates and full support.
Liferay also provides a collaboration suite based on the Liferay platform:
• Liferay Social Office - A social collaboration suite for enterprises.
• Liferay Sync - Enables Liferay Portal users to publish and access documents and files from multiple environments, including Windows and Mac OS desktops, and iOS and Android-based mobile platforms.
• AlloyUI - A UI framework for building web applications.
• Liferay Faces - An umbrella project that provides support for the JavaServer Faces (JSF) standard within Liferay Portal.
• Liferay IDE - Set of Eclipse plugins for development with the Liferay Portal platform.
• Liferay Marketplace - Liferay’s public apps repository.
Mobile App Development
In April of this year Liferay announced their release of a mobile app software development kit. The Mobile SDK is the company’s latest addition to their commitment to being a mobile-ready platform, which began with making responsive design work out of the box in Liferay Portal 6.2. The Mobile SDK takes the platform’s mobile capabilities a step further, making the benefits of Liferay Portal available to mobile app developers.
“I’m excited that we’re thinking about how to bring our customers into the mobile revolution, and it really is a revolution, impacting every aspect of the way we do business and behave as a society,” said Bryan Cheung, Liferay’s CEO. “I think developers are going to love the Mobile SDK, because people are so hungry for the kind of immediacy that you only get from your smartphone. Anything that helps you make mobile apps more quickly with more relevant functionality is going to add a lot of value.”
The Liferay Mobile SDK is designed to work with Liferay Portal 6.2 and the major mobile app platforms such as Android and iOS.
Liferay Mobile SDK’s features include:
• Authentication against your Liferay Portal instance
• Exception handling
• Remote services calls
• JSON parsing
• Batch calls
• Async calls
• Auto-generated SDK, which is template based
• Integration with Developer Studio
• Compatibility with custom portlets
Reasons for using the SDK when building mobile apps:
• Common shared services such as log-in, handling errors, and getting content to and from the mobile app (using JSON)
• Use of Liferay’s built-in content and collaboration features in the mobile app
• Use of custom objects or integrations in the mobile app
An example of the benefits to users of SDK is, a company whose CRM is already integrated with Liferay will find it easier to create a mobile app that browses customer records, and each sales rep will have personalized access to their customers. Mobile apps designed by retail companies for their customers could take advantage of shopping catalog integration to quickly develop a native mobile ecommerce app, and enhance the experience with the phone’s camera and location services.
Long-term, Liferay hopes its portal can be used as a central hub that aggregates data and interactions from mobile devices to help companies understand the needs and preferences of their customers and employees.
Company CTO, Michael Young believes that developers don’t want to keep re-writing the same code for several mobile apps, and they want to consolidate integration points behind a single system. “The solutions we’ve come up with for making websites and portals easier to develop cross over well to mobile app development,” he said.
The Liferay Mobile SDK is available as an Eclipse plugin that can be installed into Liferay Developer Studio, Liferay IDE or a developer’s own Eclipse environment.
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