21 April, 2010

What is Liferay ?

CMS + Portal = Website

In addition to themes, Liferay Portal has several enhancements that make it very straightforward to combine static CMS articles and functionality-rich portlets on the same portal page. One direct application of this capability is to create your public website using Liferay, and thereby enable the inclusion of portlets on your website. Not only would you be able to reuse functional components and find innovative ways to use them, but you could also quickly build new pages out of common components within a tightly-managed CMS framework.

As an example, suppose an insurance company wants to show their prospective customers how much they can save by switching to their insurance plan. Online visitors can go to their website, fill out a short form, and receive pricing information instantaneously. If this insurance company uses Liferay to build their website, they can easily develop a pricing calculator portlet, grant guest access, and display it on the front page of their website. The CMS-managed article describing the plan can be placed right beside the calculator portlet.
Also, incorporating portlets into your website helps to encourage reuse. If two different pages on your website need to offer the same functionality, one portlet can simply be placed in both pages.
Liferay Portal also comes with portlets specifically designed to help you build a public website easily. The Breadcrumb Portlet keeps track of how deep a user has gone into the navigation of a site. The Navigation Portlet can be configured to act as a standard nested navigation menu. These and other portlets can be re-used and easily included on every content page where they are needed. Once the main Theme layout has been created, pages can be put together using these portlets without touching the presentation code. Layout is handled strictly through portal page configuration.
Besides providing functionality, a website also needs to provide information. Liferay Portal allows CMS articles to be inserted into your portal just like any other portlet. You can thus easily bring various articles together to assemble a website.
Using the above example, the insurance company may want one portlet containing a CMS article describing their pricing. Right next to it is another portlet with CMS articles on customer testimonials. The layout of the page the articles live in is managed within the portal’s admin section, and the content and layout of the individual articles is easily maintained through the journal portlet.
Liferay Portal also ships with the Runtime Portlet and the Portlet Aggregator. The Runtime Portlet is used to embed portlets into CMS articles. This portlet is used at Liferay.com to embed an instance of the Login Portlet within the article that is displayed on the main web page.
The Portlet Aggregator provides a flexible means to lay out several portlets. You are no longer confined to the strict rigidity of a column layout, but you can set the layout of several portlets dynamically using HTML and CSS.

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