Implementing Application Display Templates

Application Display Templates (ADTs) provide–the ability to add custom display settings to your portlets from the portal. This isn’t actually a new concept in Liferay. In some portlets (e.g., Web Content, Documents and Media, and Dynamic Data Lists), you can already add as many display options (or templates) as you want. Now you can add them to your custom portlets, too. The figure below shows what the Display Template option looks like in a portlet Configuration menu.


Figure 1: By using a custom display template, your portlet’s display can be customized.

In this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to use the Application Display Templates API to add an ADT to a portlet. Let’s get started learning how.

Using the Application Display Templates API

To leverage the ADT API, there are several steps you need to follow. These steps involve registering your portlet to use ADTs, defining permissions, and exposing the ADT functionality to users. Let’s walk through these steps:

  1. Create and register a custom *PortletDisplayTemplateHandler class. Liferay provides the BasePortletDisplayTemplateHandler as a base implementation for you to extend. You can check the TemplateHandler interface Javadoc to learn about each template handler method.

    Each of the methods in this class have a significant role in defining and implementing ADTs for your custom portlet. View the list below for a detailed explanation for each method defined specifically for ADTs:

    • getClassName(): Defines the type of entry your portlet is rendering.
    • getName(): Declares the name of your ADT type (typically, the name of the portlet).
    • getResourceName(): Specifies which resource is using the ADT (e.g., a portlet) for permission checking. This method must return the portlet’s Fully Qualified Portlet ID (FQPI).
    • getTemplateVariableGroups(): Defines the variables exposed in the template editor.

    As an example *PortletDisplayTemplateHandler implementation, you can look at

  2. Now that you’ve created the template handler, declare it with the <template-handler>...</template-handler> tags in the <portlet> element of your portlet’s docroot/WEB-INF/liferay-portlet.xml file. Here’s an example snippet for some context:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <!DOCTYPE liferay-portlet-app PUBLIC "-//Liferay//DTD Portlet Application 6.2.0//EN" "">
  3. Since the ability to add ADTs is new to your portlet, you must configure permissions so that administrative users can grant permissions to the roles that will be allowed to create and manage display templates. Just add the action key ADD_PORTLET_DISPLAY_TEMPLATE to your portlet’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/resource-actions/default.xml file:

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
    <!DOCTYPE resource-action-mapping PUBLIC "-//Liferay//DTD Resource Action Mapping 6.2.0//EN" "">
  4. Now that your portlet officially supports ADTs, you’ll want to expose the ADT option to your users. Just include the <liferay-ui:ddm-template-selector> tag in the JSP file you’re using to control your portlet’s configuration.

    For example, it may be helpful for you to insert an <aui:fieldset> like the following one in your configuration JSP file:

        <div class="display-template">
            TemplateHandler templateHandler = TemplateHandlerRegistryUtil.getTemplateHandler(YourEntity.class.getName());
                classNameId="<%= PortalUtil.getClassNameId(templateHandler.getClassName()) %>"
                displayStyle="<%= displayStyle %>"
                displayStyleGroupId="<%= displayStyleGroupId %>"
                refreshURL="<%= PortalUtil.getCurrentURL(request) %>"
                        showEmptyOption="<%= true %>"

    In this JSP, the TemplateHandler object is initialized for the YourEntity class. Then, the <liferay-ui:ddm-template-selector> tag specifies the Display Template drop-down menu to be used in the portlet’s Configuration menu.

    As an example JSP, see configuration.jsp.

  5. You’re almost finished, but you still have to extend your view code to render your portlet with the selected ADT. Here is where you decide exactly which part of your view will be rendered by the ADT and what will be available in the template context.

    First, initialize the Java variables needed for the ADT:

    String displayStyle = GetterUtil.getString(portletPreferences.getValue("displayStyle", StringPool.BLANK));
    long displayStyleGroupId = GetterUtil.getLong(portletPreferences.getValue("displayStyleGroupId", null), scopeGroupId);
    long portletDisplayDDMTemplateId = PortletDisplayTemplateUtil.getPortletDisplayTemplateDDMTemplateId(displayStyleGroupId, displayStyle);

    Next, you can test if the ADT is configured, grab the entities to be rendered, and render them using the ADT.

    Here’s some example code that demonstrates implementing this:

        <c:when test="<%= portletDisplayDDMTemplateId > 0 %>">
           <% List<YourEntity> entities = YourEntity.LocalServiceUtil.getLocationsByGroupId(scopeGroupId); %>
           <%= PortletDisplayTemplateUtil.renderDDMTemplate(pageContext, portletDisplayDDMTemplateId, entities) %>

    In this step, we initialized variables dealing with the display settings (displayStyle, displayStyleGroupId, and portletDisplayDDMTemplateId), and then used conditional tags to choose between rendering the ADT, or displaying the entities some other way. If the portletDisplayDDMTemplateId exists, the entity list is initialized and the ADT is rendered using the page context, template ID, and entities. Otherwise, the entities are displayed some other way that you implement.

    For an example that demonstrates implementing this, see view.jsp.

Now that your portlet supports ADTs, you can create your own scripts to change the display of your portlet. You can experiment by adding your own custom ADT.

  1. Navigate to AdminConfigurationApplication Display Templates. Then select AddYour Template. Give your ADT a name and insert FreeMarker (like the following code) or Velocity code into the template editor, and click Save:

    <#if entries?has_content>
        Quick List:
        <#list entries as curEntry>
            <li>${} - ${curEntry.streetAddress}, ${}, ${curEntry.stateOrProvince}</li>
  2. Go back to your portlet and select OptionsConfiguration and click the Display Template drop-down. Select the ADT you created, and click Save.


Figure 2: The example Quick List template displays entities in a bullet list format.

Once your script is uploaded into the portal and saved, users with the specified roles can select the template when they’re configuring the display settings of your portlet on a page. You can visit the Using Application Display Templates section in Using Liferay Portal for more details on using ADTs.

Next, we’ll provide some recommendations for using ADTs in Liferay Portal.

Recommendations for Using ADTs

You’ve harnessed a lot of power by learning to leverage the ADT API. Be careful, for with great power, comes great responsibility! To that end, let’s talk about some practices you can use to optimize your portlet’s performance and security.

First let’s talk about security. You may want to hide some classes or packages from the template context, to limit the operations that ADTs can perform on your portal. Liferay provides some portal properties to define the restricted classes, packages, and variables. You can override the following portal properties via the file.


In particular, you may want to add serviceLocator to the list of default values assigned to the freemarker.engine.restricted.variables and velocity.engine.restricted.variables portal properties. Make sure to only add to the classes, packages, and variables restricted by default by Descriptions of Liferay Portal’s FreeMarker engine and Velocity engine properties are available on

Application Display Templates introduce additional processing tasks when your portlet is rendered. To minimize negative effects on performance, make your templates as minimal as possible by focusing on the presentation, while using the existing API for complex operations. The best way to make Application Display Templates efficient is to know your template context well, and understand what you can use from it. Fortunately, you don’t need to memorize the context information, thanks to Liferay’s advanced template editor!

To navigate to the template editor for ADTs, go to AdminConfigurationApplication Display Templates and click Add and select the specific portlet on which you decide to create an ADT.

The template editor provides fields, general variables, and util variables customized for the portlet you chose. These variable references can be found on the left-side panel of the template editor. You can use them by simply placing your cursor where you’d like the variable placed, and clicking the desired variable to place it there. You can learn more about the template editor in the Using Application Display Templates section of Using Liferay Portal.

Finally, don’t forget to run performance tests and tune the template cache options by overriding the following portal properties in your file:


The cool thing about ADTs is the power they provide to your Liferay portlets, providing infinite ways of editing your portlet to provide new interfaces for your portal users. We stepped through how to configure ADTs for a custom portlet like the Location Listing portlet, tried out a sample template, and ran through important recommendations for using ADTs, which included security and performance.

Related Topics

Customizing Liferay Portal

User Interfaces with AlloyUI


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