Using Configurable Portlet Preferences

Portlet Preferences are properties for storing basic portlet configuration data. Administrators often use preferences to provide a customized view of a portlet to subsets of users or even all of a portlet’s users. Portlet preference controls are sometimes made accessible to users themselves for configuring portlets just the way they like them. Liferay simplifies making portlet preferences configurable in portlet JSPs. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a default configuration JSP page and how to add a portlet preference control to it. Figure 1 shows what a configurable portlet preference looks like in a portlet’s Configuration menu.


Figure 1: Portlet preferences, such as this portlet’s checkbox for showing location addresses, let you customize your portlet in many different ways.

First, you’ll learn how to create the default Setup tab for your portlet’s configuration page.

Creating a Default Setup Tab in the Portlet’s Configuration Page

Before you can begin adding configurable portlet preferences, you must first create a place for them to reside in your portlet’s Configuration menu. The following steps explain how you can put preference controls in a Setup tab in the Configuration menu for your portlet preference.

  1. Open your portlet’s liferay-portlet.xml file.

  2. Add the element <configuration-action-class>com.liferay.portal.kernel.portlet.DefaultConfigurationAction</configuration-action-class> inside the <portlet> element. Here’s an example snippet to show you where it goes in the context of your liferay-portlet.xml file:


Notice that you’ve specified the default configuration action class. You can update this tag with a custom configuration class, as demonstrated later in this tutorial. If you redeploy your portlet and open your portlet’s Configuration page, you’ll find the new Setup tab.


Figure 2: Simply by specifying Liferay’s default configuration action class in your portlet’s liferay-portlet.xml file, you provide your portlet with a Setup tab for adding your portlet’s configuration setup options.

The Setup tab is empty for now, but you can add a portlet preference control to it, next.

Implementing a Configurable Portlet Preference

Now that you have your Setup tab in the Configuration menu, you can add a custom option to it.

In order to add a configurable portlet preference to the portlet, you must do the following things:

  1. Specify a Configuration JSP in the portlet.xml
  2. Create the Configuration JSP for Displaying the Portlet Preference Options
  3. Create a Configuration Action Implementation Class for Processing the Portlet Preference Value
  4. Modify the View JSP to Respond to the Current Portlet Preference Value

You can specify a configuration JSP file, first.

Step 1: Specify a Configuration JSP in the portlet.xml

Your portlet needs a way to display configuration options to the user. Liferay checks to see if your portlet specifies a configuration JSP via a config-template initialization parameter in your portlet.xml file. You can specify one for your portlet.

Open the portlet.xml file and declare your initialization parameters with the <init-param>...</init-param> tags within your portlet’s <portlet> element. Here’s an example code snippet that sets a portlet’s configuration JSP path to /html/yourportlet/configuration.jsp:

    <display-name>Your Portlet</display-name>

Next, you can create the configuration JSP file that you just specified.

Step 2: Create the Configuration JSP for Displaying the Portlet Preference Options

You must create a configuration JSP file and write JavaScript to let the user control the portlet preference.

  1. Create the JSP file in a location matching the path you specified for the config-template parameter in your portlet.xml file.

  2. Add an action URL for the configuration. For example, you can specify one like this:

    <liferay-portlet:actionURL portletConfiguration="true" var="configurationURL" />
  3. Retrieve the current value of your portlet preference and save it to a local variable. For example, you could retrieve a portlet preference named somePreferenceKey and save it to a local Java variable with the following code:

    boolean somePreferenceKey_cfg = GetterUtil.getBoolean(portletPreferences.getValue("somePreferenceKey", StringPool.TRUE));

    Liferay’s static GetterUtil class provides helpful methods for processing values from portlet preferences.

  4. Add a form to present the current setup and to enable the user to submit any changes via the action URL that you specified in step 2. For example, you could specify the form using an <aui:form> with a submit button. Here’s a form into which you could present the portlet preference for the user to control:

    <aui:form action="<%= configurationURL %>" method="post" name="fm">
        <aui:input name="<%= Constants.CMD %>" type="hidden" value="<%= Constants.UPDATE %>" />
        <!-- Preference control goes here -->
            <aui:button type="submit" />

    The sample code above passes the value of a generic variable named Constants.CMD to signify that this form’s action is an update to the portlet.

  5. You must add your portlet preference control within your configuration page’s form. You can use an <aui:input> tag to display the control and get the user’s input. In order for the value to be persisted, the <aui:input> tag’s name attribute value must follow the naming convention preferences--somePreferenceKey--, where you’d replace somePreferenceKey with the name of your portlet preference.

    For example, here is an input checkbox that lets the user set the value of a portlet preference named somePreferenceKey:

    <aui:input name="preferences--somePreferenceKey--" type="checkbox" value="<%= somePreferenceKey_cfg %>" />

Your configuration JSP is all set to display your portlet preference options. You’re ready to implement a custom class to handle the configuration action. If you don’t need to use the portlet preference in your portlet’s controller logic, then you can skip the next step.

Step 3: Create a Configuration Action Implementation Class for Processing the Portlet Preference Value

You can create a custom configuration action class for accessing the portlet preference and invoking any preference handling logic that you want. The class must extend the DefaultConfigurationAction class.

You can optionally override DefaultConfigurationAction’s processAction() method to add any processing logic for the portlet preference. For example, you could override the method and access your preference with code similar to this:

public void processAction(
    PortletConfig portletConfig, ActionRequest actionRequest,
    ActionResponse actionResponse) throws Exception {  

    super.processAction(portletConfig, actionRequest, actionResponse);

    PortletPreferences prefs = actionRequest.getPreferences();

    String somePreferenceKey = prefs.getValue(
        "somePreferenceKey", "true");

    // Add any preference processing here.

The super-class’s processAction() method is responsible for reading the portlet preferences from the configuration form and storing them in the database. Usually, you’d add appropriate validation logic for the parameters received from the form.

Another common method to override in a custom configuration action class is the DefaultConfigurationAction’s render() method. The render method is invoked when the user clicks the configuration icon.

No matter what methods you override, make sure to import any classes you need. Here are some common classes you may need to import:

import javax.portlet.ActionRequest;
import javax.portlet.ActionResponse;
import javax.portlet.PortletConfig;
import javax.portlet.PortletPreferences;

Lastly, you must specify your new custom configuration class in the liferay-portlet.xml file. Replace the value of the existing <configuration-action-class>...</configuration-action-class> with your custom configuration class’ fully qualified class name. Here’s a snippet to show you where it goes in the context of the liferay-portlet.xml file:


Since your configuration action implementation is ready to process your portlet preference, you can update your portlet’s view JSP to respond to the portlet preference.

Step 4: Modify the View JSP to Respond to the Current Portlet Preference Value

In your view JSP, you can implement logic to display your portlet based on its configured preferences. You can access portlet preferences via the implicit variable portletPreferences. To access this variable, make sure to include the <portlet:defineObjects /> tag in your JSP.

Here’s an example of accessing a boolean value stored in a portlet preference named showLocationAddress:

boolean showLocationAddress_view = GetterUtil.getBoolean(portletPreferences.getValue("showLocationAddress", StringPool.TRUE));

You can view a sample view.jsp file to see an example of handling portlet preference inside a view JSP. The JSP retrieves the value of a portlet preference named showLocationAddress and if the preference’s value is true, all of the location’s fields are displayed. If it is false, then the address fields are omitted.


Figure 3: Liferay Portal makes it easy to customize a portlet UI. Privileged users can adjust the preference settings within the portlet’s configuration page.

That’s it! You’ve created a custom configuration page and added a portlet preference to your portlet.

To see the configuration page and portlet preference in action! Navigate to your portlet’s Configuration page to see the portlet preference control that you added.


Figure 4: Your new portlet preference is available in your portlet’s Configuration page.

Great job! You added a new Setup tab to your portlet’s configuration page and you added a configurable portlet preference to that page. Now you know how to use Liferay’s portlet preferences in the portlets you develop.

Related Topics

User Interfaces with AlloyUI User Interfaces with the Liferay UI Taglib

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