Invoking Liferay Services in Your iOS App

Once the appropriate Mobile SDKs are set up in your iOS project, you can access and invoke Liferay services in your app. The basic steps for doing this are listed here:

  1. Create a session.
  2. Import the Liferay services you need to call.
  3. Create a service object and call the service methods.

This tutorial takes you through these steps. Also, since some Liferay service calls require special considerations, you’re shown how to handle them. Note that the code snippets in this tutorial are written in Objective-C. Now go ahead and get started learning how to invoke Liferay services in your iOS app!

Step 1: Create a Session

A session is a conversion state between the client and server, consisting of multiple requests and responses between the two. You need a session to pass requests between your app and the Mobile SDK. In most cases, sessions need to be created with user authentication. The imports and code required to create a session are shown here:

#import "LRBasicAuthentication.h"
#import "LRSession.h"

LRSession *session = [[LRSession alloc] initWithServer:@"http://localhost:8080" 
    authentication:[[LRBasicAuthentication alloc] initWithUsername:@"" password:@"test"]];

The LRSession object is created with initializers specifying the Liferay instance to connect to and the credentials of the user to authenticate. The initWithServer parameter sets the URL of the Liferay instance you’re connecting to. In this case, the Liferay instance is running on http://localhost:8080. The iOS emulator is also running on the same machine. Next, the authentication parameter takes an LRBasicAuthentication instance with the credentials of the user to authenticate. Depending on the authentication method used by your Liferay instance, you need to provide the user’s email address, screen name, or user ID to the initWithUsername parameter. You also need to provide the user’s password to the password parameter.

Using LRBasicAuthentication tells the session to authenticate each service call with Basic Authentication. The Mobile SDK also supports OAuth authentication, as long as the OAuth Provider portlet is deployed to your Liferay instance. To learn how to use OAuth authentication with the Mobile SDK, see the OAuth sample app.

If you’re building a sign in view for your app, you can use the LRSignIn utility class to check if the credentials given by the user are valid:

#import "LRSignIn.h"

    onSuccess:^(id result) {
        user = result;
        [monitor signal];
    onFailure:^(NSError *e) {
        error = e;
        [monitor signal];

[LRSignIn signInWithSession:session callback:session.callback error:&error];

The Mobile SDK doesn’t keep a persistent connection or session with the server. Each request is sent with the user’s credentials (except when using OAuth). However, the SignIn class provides a way to return user information after a successful sign-in.

You can persist credentials with LRCredentialStorage. It safely saves the username and password in the keychain:

[LRCredentialStorage storeCredentialForServer:@"http://localhost:8080" 
    username:@"" password:@"test"];

After credentials are stored, you can retrieve them with:

NSURLCredential *credential = [LRCredentialStorage getCredential];

Alternatively, you can create an LRSession instance directly with:

LRSession *session = [LRCredentialStorage getSession];

For more examples of this, see CredentialStorageTest.m.

Next, you’re shown how to create an unauthenticated session in the limited cases where this is possible.

Creating an Unauthenticated Session

In some cases, it’s possible to create an LRSession instance without user credentials. However, most Liferay remote methods don’t accept unauthenticated remote calls. Making a call with an unauthenticated session generates an Authentication access required exception in most cases.

Unauthenticated service calls only work if the remote method in the portal or your plugin has the @AccessControlled annotation. This is shown here for the hypothetical class FooServiceImpl and its method bar:

public class FooServiceImpl extends FooServiceBaseImpl {
    @AccessControlled(guestAccessEnabled = true)
    public void bar() { ... }

To make such a call, you need to use the constructor that accepts the server URL only:

LRSession *session = [[LRSession alloc] initWithServer:@"http://localhost:8080"];

Fantastic! Now that you have a session, you can use it to call Liferay’s services.

Step 2: Import the Service

First, you should determine the Liferay services you need to call. You can find the available portal and plugin services at http://localhost:8080/api/jsonws. Be sure to replace http://localhost:8080 in this URL with your server’s address.

Once you determine the services you need to call, add their imports. For example, if you’re building a blogs app, you can import LRBlogsEntryService:

#import "LRBlogsEntryService_v62.h"

Note that the Liferay version (_v62) is used in the service class’s name. This corresponds to the Liferay version it’s compatible with. In this example, _v62 is used, which means this Mobile SDK class is compatible with Liferay 6.2. Because service class names contain the Liferay version they’re compatible with, you can use several Mobile SDKs simultaneously to support different Liferay versions in the same app.

Step 3: Calling the Service

Once you have a session and have imported the service class, you’re ready to make the service call. This is done by creating a service object for the service you want to call, and then calling its service methods. For example, if you’re creating a blogs app, you need to use LRBlogsEntryService to get all the blogs entries from a site. This is demonstrated by the following code.

LRBlogsEntryService_v62 *service = [[LRBlogsEntryService_v62 alloc] initWithSession:session];

NSError *error;
NSArray *entries = [service getGroupEntriesWithGroupId:10184 status:0 start:-1 end:-1 error:&error];

This fetches all blog entries from the Guest site. In this example, the Guest site’s groupId is 10184. Note that many service methods require groupId as a parameter. You can get the user’s groups by calling [LRGroupService_v62 getUserSites:&error].

Service method return types can be void, NSString, NSArray, NSDictionary, NSNumber, and BOOL.

This LRBlogsEntryService call is a basic example of a synchronous service call. The method in a synchronous service call returns only after the request is finished.

Non-Primitive Arguments

There are some special cases in which service method arguments aren’t primitives. In these cases, you should use LRJSONObjectWrapper. For example:

LRJSONObjectWrapper *wrapper = [[LRJSONObjectWrapper alloc] 
    initWithJSONObject:[NSDictionary dictionary]];

You must pass a dictionary containing the object’s properties and their values. On the server side, your object is instantiated and setters for each property are called with the values from the dictionary.

There are some other cases in which service methods require interfaces or abstract classes as arguments. Since it’s impossible for the SDK to guess which implementation you want to use, you must initialize LRJSONObjectWrapper with the class name. For example:

LRJSONObjectWrapper *wrapper = [[LRJSONObjectWrapper alloc] 
    initWithClassName:@"com.example.MyClass" jsonObject:[NSDictionary dictionary]];

The server looks for the class name in its classpath and instantiates the object for you. It then calls setters, as in the previous example. The abstract class OrderByComparator is a good example of this. This is discussed next.


On the server side, OrderByComparator is an abstract class. You must therefore pass the name of a class that implements it. For example:

NSString *className = @"com.liferay.portlet.bookmarks.util.comparator.EntryNameComparator";

LRJSONObjectWrapper *orderByComparator = [[LRJSONObjectWrapper alloc] initWithClassName:className jsonObject:[NSDictionary dictionary]];

If the service you’re calling accepts null for a comparator argument, pass nil to the service call.

You may want to set the ascending property for a comparator. Unfortunately, as of Liferay 6.2, most Liferay OrderByComparator implementations don’t have a setter for this property and it isn’t possible to set from the Mobile SDK. Future portal versions will address this. However, you may have a custom OrderByComparator that has a setter for ascending. In this case, you can use the following code:

NSString *className = @"com.example.MyOrderByComparator";

NSDictionary *jsonObject = @{
    @"ascending": @(YES)

LRJSONObjectWrapper *orderByComparator = [[LRJSONObjectWrapper alloc] 
    initWithClassName:className jsonObject:jsonObject];

For more examples, see the test case OrderByComparatorTest.m.


Another non-primitive argument is ServiceContext. It requires special attention because most Liferay service methods require it. However, you aren’t required to pass it to the SDK; you can pass nil instead. The server then creates a ServiceContext instance for you, using default values.

If you need to set properties for ServiceContext, you can do so by adding them to a new NSDictionary and then passing it as the ServiceContext argument:

NSDictionary *jsonObject = @{
    @"addGroupPermissions": @(YES),
    @"addGuestPermissions": @(YES)

LRJSONObjectWrapper *serviceContext = [[LRJSONObjectWrapper alloc] initWithJSONObject:jsonObject];

For more examples, see the test case ServiceContextTest.m.


Some Liferay services require binary argument types like NSData or LRUploadData. The Mobile SDK converts NSData instances to NSString before sending the POST request. For example, [@"hello" dataUsingEncoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding] becomes a JSON array such as "[104,101,108,108,111]". The Mobile SDK does this for you, so you don’t have worry about it; you only need to pass the NSData instance to the method.

However, you need to be careful when using such methods. This is because you’re allocating memory for the whole NSData, which may cause memory issues if the content is large.

Other portal service methods require as an argument. In these cases the Mobile SDK requires LRUploadData instead. Here are two examples of creating LRUploadData instances:

LRUploadData *upload = [[LRUploadData alloc] 
    initWithData:data fileName:@"file.png" mimeType:@"image/png"];

LRUploadData *upload = [[LRUploadData alloc] 
    initWithInputStream:is length:length fileName:@"file.png" mimeType:@"image/png"];

The first constructor accepts an NSData argument, while the second accepts NSInputStream. As you can see, you also need to pass the file’s mime type and name. The length is the size in bytes of the content being sent. The SDK sends a multipart form request to the portal. On the server side, a File instance is created and sent to the service method you’re calling.

It’s also possible to monitor service calls that upload data to Liferay. If want to listen for upload progress to create a progress bar, you can create a LRProgressDelegate delegate and set it to an LRUploadData object. Its onProgressBytes method is called for each byte chunk sent. It passes the bytes that were sent, the total number of bytes sent so far, and the total request size. For example:

@interface ProgressDelegate : NSObject <LRProgressDelegate>


@implementation ProgressDelegate

- (void)onProgressBytes:(NSUInteger)bytes sent:(long long)sent
    total:(long long)total {

        // bytes contains the byte values that were sent.
        // sent will contain the total number of bytes sent.
        // total will contain the total size of the request in bytes.



For more examples of this, see the test case FileUploadTest.m.

Related Topics

Building Mobile SDKs

Service Builder and Services

Creating Android Apps that Use Liferay

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