Controlling Access with Configurable Portlet Preferences

As a Liferay application developer, using Liferay’s permissions system isn’t your only option for controlling access to the features of your application. You can allow access to your portlet’s features to be configured through configurable portlet preferences. Portlet preferences are properties for storing basic portlet configuration data. You can make portlet preferences configurable by adding them to a Setup tab in your portlet’s Configuration menu. Users with permission to access your portlet’s Configuration menu can adjust the preferences. In the screenshot below, configurable portlet preferences are shown for several features of the asset framework.


Figure 1: Configurable portlet preferences give you fine-grained control over specific features in your portlet.

Read on to learn about the benefits of using configurable portlet preferences to control access to your portlet’s features. With Liferay, it’s easy to create portlet preferences and allow users to configure them. You’ll be a master of configurations in no time flat!

Deciding to Use Configurable Portlet Preferences

So why bother with configurable portlet preferences for controlling access to portlet features? Why not just use permissions? First of all, portlet preferences can be a simpler approach. You only have to worry about one permission: the permission to access your portlet’s Configuration window. Any user with permission to access your portlet’s Configuration window can adjust any of your portlet’s preferences. For example, administrators can allow certain users access to the portlet’s Configuration window without also allowing them to edit to the portlet’s permissions.

By default, Liferay stores a set of portlet preferences for each user, for each portlet instance. However, this can be adjusted by changing the following liferay-portlet.xml settings of your portlet from these defaults:

  • <preferences-company-wide>false</preferences-company-wide>
  • <preferences-unique-per-layout>true</preferences-unique-per-layout>
  • <preferences-owned-by-group>true</preferences-owned-by-group>

You shouldn’t use portlet preferences as a substitute for permissions. However, if you want to control access to certain portlet features via portlet preferences, make sure you understand how these settings affect your portlet’s preferences.

A second reason to use portlet preferences is that if you have lots of features, defining explicit permissions for each feature of your portlet can quickly crowd the permissions window. Consider Liferay’s Blogs portlet. It has many configurable portlet preferences, as is shown in the following screenshot. Implementing each of these settings as a separate permission isn’t a feasible solution.


Figure 2: The configurable portlet preferences for Liferay’s Blogs portlet.

Now that you understand how portlet preferences can be useful, it’s time to learn how to implement them.

Implementing Configurable Portlet Preferences

Implementing configurable portlet preferences is a straightforward task. For instructions, see the tutorial Using Configurable Portlet Preferences. Keep in mind that unless you need to use the portlet preferences with some additional logic in your controller, you can skip the third step of that tutorial. Once you’ve created your configuration JSP and any additional control logic that you need, you can use your portlet preferences to control access to the features implemented in any other JSP. To do so, simply wrap each feature in a <c:if> tag that checks the value of the appropriate preference. For example, the following code gets the hypothetical portlet preference "showYourFeature" and then uses it with a <c:if> tag to determine if the given feature should be shown:

boolean showYourFeature_view = GetterUtil.getBoolean(portletPreferences.
    getValue("showYourFeature", StringPool.TRUE));
<c:if test='<%= showYourFeature_view %>'>
    <!--tags for your feature go here-->

Administrators can then use the portlet’s Permissions tab in the Configuration menu to set the roles that can access the Configuration menu. Those with access to the Configuration menu are then able to set any preferences defined in the Setup tab.


Figure 3: The Permissions tab of the portlet’s Configuration menu.

Stupendous! Now you know when and how to use configurable portlet preferences to control access to your portlet’s features.

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