The first thing you should do is install Liferay Portal. If you haven’t already installed a Liferay bundle, follow the instructions in the Installation and Setup chapter of Using Liferay Portal. Many people use the Tomcat bundle for development, as it’s small, fast, and takes up fewer resources than most other servlet containers. Although you can use any application server supported by Liferay Portal for development, our examples use the Tomcat bundle.

Installation steps:

  1. Download The Plugins SDK from our web site at http://www.liferay.com.

    Click the Downloads link at the top of the page.

    From the Liferay Portal 6.1 Community Edition section, select the Plugins SDK option.

    Click Download.

  2. Unzip the archive to a folder of your choosing. Because some operating systems have trouble running Java applications from folders with names containing spaces, avoid using spaces when naming your folder.

    On Windows, to build a plugin’s services (see Chapter 4 on Service Builder), the Plugins SDK and Liferay Portal instance must be on the same drive. For example, if your Liferay Portal instance is on your C:\ drive, your Plugins SDK must also be on your C:\ drive in order for Service Builder to be able to run successfully.

Now that you’ve installed the Plugins SDK, let’s configure Apache Ant for use in developing your plugins.

Ant Configuration

Building projects in the Plugins SDK requires that you install Ant (version 1.7 or higher) on your machine. Download the latest version of Ant from http://ant.apache.org/. Extract the archive’s contents into a folder of your choosing.

Now that Ant is installed, set an ANT_HOME environment variable to your Ant installation location. Then put Ant’s bin directory (e.g., $ANT_HOME/bin) in your path. We’ll give you examples of doing this on Linux (Unix or Mac OS X) and Windows.

On Linux (Unix or Mac OS X), if your Ant installation directory is /java/apache-ant-<version> and your shell is Bash, set ANT_HOME and adjust your path by specifying the following in .bash_profile or from your terminal:

export ANT_HOME=/java/apache-ant-<version>
export PATH=$PATH:$ANT_HOME/bin

On Windows, if your Ant installation folder is C:\Java\apache-ant-<version>, set your ANT_HOME and path environment variables appropriately in your system properties:

  1. Select Start, then right-select ComputerProperties.

  2. In the Advanced tab, click Environment Variables….

  3. In the System variables section, click New….

  4. Set the ANT_HOME variable:

    • Variable name: ANT_HOME
    • Variable value: <Ant installation path> (e.g., C:\Java\apache-ant-<version>)

    Click OK.

  5. Also in the System variables section, select your path variable and click Edit….

  6. Insert %ANT_HOME%\bin; after %JAVA_HOME%\bin; and click OK.

  7. Click OK to close all system property windows.

  8. Open a new command prompt for your new environment variables to take affect.

To verify Ant is in your path, execute ant -version from your terminal to make sure your output looks similar to this:

Apache Ant(TM) version <version> compiled on <date> 

If the version information doesn’t display, make sure your Ant installation is referenced in your path.

Now that Ant is configured, let’s set up your Plugins SDK environment.

Plugins SDK Configuration

Now we have the proper tools, but we need to configure the Plugins SDK to deploy into your Liferay instance. The Plugins SDK contains a build.properties file that contains the default settings about the location of your Liferay installation and your deployment folder. You can use this file as a reference, but you shouldn’t modify it directly (In fact, you will see the message “DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE” at the top if you open it). In order to override the default settings, create a new file named build.[username].properties in the same folder, where [username] is your user ID on your machine. For example, if your user name is jbloggs, your file name would be build.jbloggs.properties.

Edit this file and add the following lines:

app.server.type=the name build.properties uses for your application server type
app.server.parent.dir=the directory containing your Liferay bundle
app.server.tomcat.dir=the directory containing your application server

If you are using Liferay Portal bundled with Tomcat 7.0.40 and your bundle is in your c:/liferay-portal-6.1.30-ee-ga3 folder, you’d specify the following lines:

app.server.type = tomcat
app.server.parent.dir = c:/liferay-portal-6.1.30-ee-ga3
app.server.tomcat.dir = ${app.server.parent.dir}/tomcat-7.0.40 

Since we’re using the Tomcat app server, we specified tomcat as our app server type and we specified the app.server.tomcat.dir property. See the Plugins SDK’s build.properties for the name of the app server property that matches your app server.

Save the file.

Next, let’s consider the structure of the Plugins SDK.

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