Initially, the layout template’s generated TPL files are empty, a fresh canvas on which you can design a page layout template. If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to build a new layout template and explain how it works. In this tutorial, you’ll learn the structure of a layout template and design your own custom layout template.

Before diving into designing your own layout template, you may want to look at an existing one, like Liferay’s 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE page layout, to learn how a layout template works from a user perspective. The figure below shows what it looks like, populated with some of Liferay’s portlets.

layout-template-1-2-1-columns.png

Figure 1: The 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE page layout works nicely for spanning portlets accross a page’s header and footer and for grouping portlets in the middle of the page.

The figure above shows a page that uses the 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE page layout. The first row has one column that spans the width of the page. A column can hold as many portlets as you like. A Breadcrumb portlet was added to this column. The second row has two columns: this row’s first column is designed so that it takes up twice as much width as the second column. In this example page, the first column has a Dictionary and Quick Note portlet stacked in it and the second column has a Language and Unit Converter portlet stacked in it. At the bottom of the page, the layout’s last row is similar to the first row in that it has only one column. Two portlets were added to this column: a User Statistics and Network Utilities portlet. As you can see, layout templates give structure to a page by organizing portlets as users drag the portlets onto the different parts of the page’s layout layout template.

You’re probably wondering what the source code looks like for this layout template. Like all Liferay layout templates, it’s specified in a single file called a TPL file. Here’s the content of the 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE’s TPL file, 1_2_1_columns.tpl:

<div class="columns-1-2-1" id="main-content" role="main">
    <div class="portlet-layout row-fluid">
        <div class="portlet-column portlet-column-only span12" id="column-1">
            $processor.processColumn("column-1", "portlet-column-content portlet-column-content-only")
        </div>
    </div>

    <div class="portlet-layout row-fluid">
        <div class="portlet-column portlet-column-first span8" id="column-2">
            $processor.processColumn("column-2", "portlet-column-content portlet-column-content-first")
        </div>

        <div class="portlet-column portlet-column-last span4" id="column-3">
            $processor.processColumn("column-3", "portlet-column-content portlet-column-content-last")
        </div>
    </div>

    <div class="portlet-layout row-fluid">
        <div class="portlet-column portlet-column-only span12" id="column-4">
            $processor.processColumn("column-4", "portlet-column-content portlet-column-content-only")
        </div>
    </div>
</div>

The TPL uses HTML <div> tags to specify its rows and columns. The 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE page layout has an outter <div> that contains everything. This template’s three row <div>s are child elements of the layout template <div>. Each row contains one or more column <div>s. There are plenty of attributes in these <div> elements that you’ll learn to use as you construct your own page layout templates, next. Remember that you can refer to existing page layout TPL code, like the TPL of 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE page layout, as you design your own layout templates.

You can follow these steps to design your own templates:

  1. Open your layout template project’s .tpl file, found in your project’s docroot folder. If you’re adding a layout template to the project, create a new .tpl file in the docroot folder.

  2. Create a layout template <div> in which to specify your entire layout template. You must specify class, id, and role attributes for the <div>. You can assign an arbitrary name to the class, but you must specify id=main-content and role=main attribute settings. A layout template with a class name my-layout, for example, could look like this:

    <div class="my-layout" id="main-content" role="main">
        ...
    </div>
    
  3. Within the layout template <div>, specify a <div> for each row of portlets your layout template supports. For example, if it supports only one row of portlets, add one <div> within your layout template <div>. If it supports two rows of portlets, add two <div>s, and so on.

    You must apply portlet-layout and row-fluid CSS classes to each of these row <div>s:

    <div class="portlet-layout row-fluid">
        ...
    </div>
    
  4. Within each row <div>, specify one or more column <div>s. If a row supports only one column, add one column <div>. If it supports two columns, add two column <div>s, and so on.

    Each column <div> column must have a unique CSS ID attribute. A common convention to follow is to start each ID with column-, followed by an integer representing where that column is sequentially located in the template. For example, you could idenity the first column as id="column-1", you could identiry the second column as id="column-2", and so on.

    Each column <div> must specify the portlet-column CSS class as a class attribute value. In addition to that class, if a column is the first, the last, or the only column in a row, you must specify either the portlet-column-first, portlet-column-last, or portlet-column-only CSS class respectively. Note, that the CSS class values for a column <div> must be space separated. The column <div> elements in the 1-2-1 Columns Layout CE source above, provides a good example of specifying the various kinds of column <div>s.

    Each column <div>’s class attribute must also specify a CSS class called span[width]. Layout template columns follow a 12 column grid system. The width value of each span[width] must be an integer value between 1 and 12. The sum of all of the span width values of a row’s columns must equal 12.

    If a row only has one column, for example, that one column’s span width class must be span12. The span12 CSS class name means that the column will take up the entire page width.

    If a row has 12 columns, for example, each column must have a span width class of span1. The point is that the span width values of a row’s columns must compliment each other to equal 12.

    If you wanted a row with four columns of equal page width, for example, you’d divide the twelve grid columns available between them (12 / 4 = 3). So, you’d specify a span width value span3 for each of the four columns.

    Here’s an example of a column <div>, with class name column-4, that is for the last column of four equal width columns in a row:

    <div class="portlet-column portlet-column-last span4" id="column-4">
        ...
    </div>
    

    You’re getting the hang of specifying columns, right?

  5. Finally, with each column <div>...</div>, you must include a Velocity template directive to render each column’s portlets. As a user adds a portlet to the column of a page, the directives of the layout template’s columns renders the portlet.

    For example, the directive for a layout’s first column (with ID column-1) in a row that only has one column could use a directive like this:

    $processor.processColumn("column-1", "portlet-column-content portlet-column-content-only")
    

    The processor.processColumn function takes two arguments. The first is the CSS column ID and the second is a list of CSS classes. You always need to pass "portlet-column-content" in the second argument. If the column is the first, last, or only column in a row, you also have to pass both "portlet-column-content" and portlet-column-content-[first|last|only] in the second argument, separated by a space.

  6. Save the .tpl file.

Believe it or not, you’ve just created a layout template! You can deploy it to your portal and apply it to your portal’s pages.

If you want to see more examples of layout templates, check out the Page Layouts section of Liferay Marketplace or look at the source of Liferay’s layout templates available in the layouttpl folder of the Liferay CE Plugins SDK repository. Liferay Portal CE’s core layout template files are available in the installation’s portal-web/docroot/layouttpl/custom/ folder.

Note, to save time, you can copy an existing layout template and modify it to fit your needs.

Since you’re now a master at designing layout templates, go out there and generate some positive Feng Shui with your eye-pleasing layout templates!

Related Topics

Embedding Portlets in a Layout Template

Developing Liferay Layout Template Plugins with Maven

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