Developing Applications with Liferay IDE

To develop an application, you need a development environment. Liferay provides a great environment with Liferay IDE.

Liferay IDE is a plugin for Eclipse that brings many Liferay-specific features to the table. You can install it into your existing Eclipse environment, or Liferay provides a bundled version.

Option 1: Install the Liferay IDE Bundle

  1. Download and install Java. Liferay runs on Java, so you’ll need it to run everything else. Because you’ll be developing apps for Liferay Portal in Liferay IDE, the Java Development Kit (JDK) is required. It is an enhanced version of the Java Environment, used for developing new Java technology. You can download the Java SE JDK from the Java Downloads page.

  2. Download Liferay IDE. Installing it is easy: unzip it to a convenient location on your system.

Congratulations! You’ve installed Liferay IDE!

Option 2: Install Liferay IDE into Eclipse

If you already have an Eclipse environment that you’re using for other things, it’s easy to add Liferay IDE to your existing Eclipse installation.

  1. Select HelpInstall New Software.

  2. In your browser, go to the Liferay IDE page. Copy the URL to the update site you’re interested in (stable or milestone).


    Figure 1: Liferay provides two update sites: stable for those who want a well-tested environment, and milestone for those who like the bleeding edge.

  3. Go back to Eclipse and click the Add button to add a repository.

  4. Type Liferay IDE into the Name field and paste the URL into the Location field.

  5. You’ll see the Liferay IDE components in the list below. Check them off and click Next.

  6. Accept the terms of the agreements and click Next, and Liferay IDE is installed. Like other Eclipse plugins you’ll have to restart Eclipse to enable it.

Option 3: Install Liferay IDE into Eclipse from a ZIP File

To install Liferay IDE into Eclipse from a .zip file, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Liferay IDE downloads page. Under Other Downloads, select the Liferay IDE [version] Update Archive Site option and click Download.

  2. In Eclipse, go to HelpInstall New Software….

  3. In the Add Site dialog, click the Archive button and browse to the location of the downloaded Liferay IDE .zip file.

  4. You’ll see the Liferay IDE components in the list below. Check them off and click Next.

  5. Accept the terms of the agreements and click Next, and Liferay IDE is installed. Like other Eclipse plugins you’ll have to restart Eclipse to enable it.

Setting up Liferay’s Developer Tools

Liferay IDE needs a Liferay Portal runtime on which to run and debug code. Under the hood, it also works with Liferay’s Plugins SDK, a barebones, command line driven development environment you can use with any IDE or text editor. Because of this, your next task is to get both of these installed.

  1. Install a Liferay Tomcat runtime you’ll use in your development environment to run your applications. This is just as easy as installing Liferay IDE: unzip it to your system. We recommend creating a bundles folder and unzipping it there.

  2. Install the Plugins SDK. Liferay’s Plugins SDK is a basic, command-line driven development environment that the IDE uses behind the scenes to manage your Liferay projects. This is just as easy as installing everything else: unzip it to your system. We recommend unzipping it next to the bundles folder you created in the last step.


Figure 2: The directory structure for Liferay development is pretty simple.

When you’ve finished installing everything, you should have a folder structure like the one above. Next, you need to get all these components talking to each other. Launch IDE.

  1. Use WindowOpen PerspectiveLiferay to switch to the Liferay perspective.

  2. The tab on the low left corner is labeled Servers. Click the link to create a new server.


    Figure 3: The Servers tab has no servers by default.

  3. In the dialog that appears, select the server that matches the runtime you downloaded and installed. Click Next.


    Figure 4: Select the Liferay server runtime you downloaded.

  4. Browse to the Tomcat folder inside the runtime and click Finish.

Now it’s time to start it. Select the runtime and click the green Play button. Liferay starts up inside your IDE. By the way, you could’ve clicked the Bug button, and that would have started Liferay in debug mode.

When Liferay starts, your console window should show INFO: Server startup in xxx ms. Go to your browser and visit http://localhost:8080. On a new installation, this shows Liferay Portal’s setup wizard. If you want to connect Liferay to a separate database such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, or similar, you can configure it here. If you want to start quickly, the embedded database is fine for your local machine (but it’s not optimized for production, so don’t use it there). Make sure you uncheck the Add Sample Data box, and then click Finish Configuration.

You then get to set up the administrative password. Go ahead and do that (the password liferay does nicely), answer the security question, and you’re done.

Your runtime is now set up. Next, you need to register your Plugins SDK.

  1. Select WindowPreferencesLiferayInstalled Plugin SDKs.

  2. Click Add. Browse to the folder where you unzipped the Plugins SDK and click OK.

  3. Click OK again.

You’ve now registered your Plugins SDK, and you are ready to begin developing Liferay applications!

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