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Overriding Language Properties Using a Hook

A language properties hook lets you change Liferay Portal’s messages and labels to suit your needs. For example, you may want to change the title of a Liferay core portlet, a message Liferay displays on successfully completing a request, or some other bit of text in the UI. You can override all these strings using a language properties Liferay hook plugin.


Figure 1: You can override portlet titles, like the Sign In portlet’s default title Sign In, with new titles from a language properties hook plugin.

Customizing Liferay’s default textual content involves the following two steps:

  1. Locating Liferay’s default language keys that correspond to the text that you want to replace.
  2. Specifying new custom text values using a Liferay language properties hook.

This tutorial illustrates this process, and it shows you how to use a hook to override the title of Liferay’s Sign In portlet. You can apply the same process to customizing any of Liferay’s language properties.

First, you’ll learn how to find the language key properties that specify Liferay’s default text values. It’s time to get started and locate the default language files.

Locating the Default Language Keys

Liferay’s default language files are in the WEB-INF/lib/portal-impl.jar/content folder of the Liferay Portal deployment on your app server. You can view Liferay CE versions of these files on GitHub. The language files contain Liferay’s default language keys. Each file corresponds to a language locale that Liferay supports. For example, Language_en.properties contains the English language keys, Language_es.properties contains the Spanish language keys, Language_fr.properties contains the French language keys, and so on.

All of Liferay’s default text values are specified as properties in these language properties files. The title of Liferay’s Sign In portlet, for example, is specified by language key javax.portlet.title.58 in each of the files. Are you wondering why the key includes the number 58? That’s an ID number assigned to the portlet. Per convention, the names of the language properties of Liferay’s core portlets end with a portlet ID number.

After you’ve noted the names of all of the properties that you want to customize, you can create new language properties files to specify the text values that you prefer. You’ll create these properties files in a Liferay hook plugin.

Creating Language Files

The steps in this section show you how to use Liferay IDE to create a language property hook plugin for overriding Liferay’s default text values with your own custom values.

  1. If you don’t yet have a hook project, create one following the steps in the Creating a Hook tutorial.

  2. In Liferay IDE, right click your hook project and select NewLiferay Hook Configuration. In the window that appears, select the Language properties check box and click Next.


    Figure 2: In the Liferay Hook Configuration wizard, you can select the Language properties check box to create a language properties hook.

  3. Accept the default path docroot/WEB-INF/src/content for the content folder. Click on the Add… button and add the names of any language properties files that contain text values that you want to customize. Then click Finish.


    Figure 3: The Liferay Hook Configuration wizard lets you specify any language properties files to customize.

    Behind the scenes, the Liferay Hook Configuration wizard adds a blank copy of each of the custom language properties files you specified. It creates them in the hook project’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/content/ folder.

  4. In the generated properties files, specify each of the properties that you are customizing and assign your custom values to them.

    For example, to customize the Sign In portlet’s title for English and Spanish languages, you’d specify the javax.portlet.title.58 property in each language file and assign it your custom value in that language. Here’s what you might specify in the following language files for the Sign In portlet’s title:

    • Language.properties: javax.portlet.title.58=Welcome
    • Language_en.properties: javax.portlet.title.58=Welcome
    • Language_es.properties: javax.portlet.title.58=Bienvenidos
  5. Deploy your hook and reload any page that uses the language key you’ve customized. To see the customization for the particular language that you customized, you can add the Language portlet to a page and click on a nation’s flag that uses that language.

    For example, to switch to see a Spanish translation customization, add the Language portlet and click on Spain’s flag. To switch back to an English translation, click on the U.S. flag or Great Britain’s flag.


    Figure 4: Here’s a Spanish translation of the Sign In portlet’s title.

If you created the language properties hook using Liferay IDE, you’re finished and can skip the next section. The Liferay Hook Configuration wizard in Liferay IDE automatically takes care of inserting the proper references in the liferay-hook.xml file to your language files. If you need to add more language files, simply run the wizard again.

The Liferay Hook Configuration wizard is the easiest way to create and configure custom language properties files. If you didn’t use Liferay IDE’s Liferay Hook Configuration wizard or you created your hook project using the Plugins SDK, the next section shows you how to create and configure custom language properties files manually.

Manually Creating and Referencing Custom Language Files

In order to override any one of Portal’s language properties files, you must put the custom language properties file in your hook plugin’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/content folder. On deploying the hook plugin, the portal applies the properties of each of these language properties files.

Each custom language property file must match the name of the file it’s overriding. If you wanted to override Portal’s Language_en_GB.properties file, for example, then you’d create an empty Language_en_GB.properties file in the hook plugin’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/content folder and add custom properties to that file.

In order for Liferay Portal to use your new language properties files, you must specify them in the plugin’s liferay-hook.xml file. Each reference to a language file in liferay-hook.xml is defined in a language-properties tag. For example, you could reference custom language files for English, Spanish, and the default language properties file by specifying them in the liferay-hook.xml file like this:


Note that each of the files must reside in the plugin’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/content folder and the content folder must be included in the path for each language file.

You can create these references manually in raw XML, or by using Overview mode in Liferay IDE’s XML editor. Overview mode provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for adding and editing XML without requiring you to enter any raw XML tags.

Just follow these steps in Liferay IDE to use Overview mode to reference your language files.

  1. Open liferay-hook.xml and click the Overview tab to access Overview mode.

  2. Click Language Properties in the Outline column on the left. The Language Properties field appears to the right.

  3. Click the plus icon and type in the language file that you want to reference. For example, to add a reference to Language_en.properties, enter content/Language_en.properties. You can repeat this step for as many language files as you want to reference.

Important: Unless you’re adding language properties files using the Liferay Hook Configuration wizard, language properties files are not created for you in your plugin project’s docroot/WEB-INF/src/content folder. You must manually create each custom properties file .


Figure 5: Liferay IDE’s Overview mode for editing liferay-hook.xml facilitates specifying custom language files.

If you want to view the XML references that Liferay IDE generated for you, click on the Source tab of liferay-hook.xml editor.

Now that you’ve customized the Liferay language key values, you can enjoy seeing your new titles, labels, and message strings in your portal.

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