Life with Liferay

Summer is long gone and fall is fading fast, so what happened to me?  Been deep into a project (pro bono, alas) using LifeRay portal.  LifeRay  is an Open Source Portal which is pretty cool. The Open Source version has a long way to go in some areas (documentation would be a good starting place) but some of the functionality out of the box is great (some needs work).

My application is a servlet and wrapping a servlet in a portlet, sharing data between them, was not s trivial task.  I had a long learning curve and was heading into a deep technical dive on the framework when an epiphany rescued me from heading down a technical rabbit hole.  I simply wrapped the servlet in an iframe and constructed the URL for the iframe using jQuery and portlet  parameters from within the hosting jsp.  LifeRay *has* a portlet iFrame but it has the same limitations as the html iframe: Moving data between the portlet and the html/app within the iframe is near impossible to do without getting pretty hacky….

I was able to get the hacky solution to work OK, although I wished I could handle things a little more elegantly.  I also wanted to host a message board (aka forum) but I had nothing but trouble getting the email functionality to work.  In fact I am still dead in the water on the emails sent to the board reaching the forum posts.

The support at the LifeRay forum is so-so.  Too many dead ends on posts of similar problems and many, many similar problems exist without resolution.  If I were the LifeRay team I’d handle the posts that are most frequent with either a solution or an intelligible FAQ in the Wiki.  As it is, I still have posts that were never completely resolved.

I’ll probably continue to use LifeRay because 1. This pro bono project requires it and 2. It seems to be the best Open Source portal solution I can find.  I am not completely satisfied, but hopefully one day you’ll be reading this blog from within LifeRay and all will be well.

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