Using Developer Mode with Themes

Do you want to develop Liferay resources without having to redeploy to see your portal modifications? Use Liferay Developer Mode! In Developer Mode, all caches are removed, so any changes you make are visible right away. Also, you don’t have to reboot the server as often in Developer Mode.

How does Developer Mode let you see your changes more quickly? In Developer Mode, there are several changes to the normal order of operations. Here is a list of Developer Mode’s key behavior changes and the portal property override settings that trigger them:

  • CSS files are loaded individually rather than being combined and loaded as a single CSS file (
  • Layout template caching is disabled (layout.template.cache.enabled=false).
  • The server does not launch a browser when starting (browser.launcher.url=).
  • FreeMarker Templates for themes and web content are not cached, so changes are applied immediately (freemarker.engine.resource.modification.check.interval=0).
  • Minification of CSS and JavaScript resources is disabled (minifier.enabled=false).

Individual file loading of your styling and behaviors, combined with disabled caching for layout and FreeMarker templates, lets you see your changes more quickly.

As you’re developing your theme plugin, you can use Developer Mode regardless of whether you’re developing it in Liferay IDE. First, you can explore how it’s done in IDE.

Setting Developer Mode for Your Server in Liferay IDE

For Liferay Portal servers of version 6.2 or greater, the Liferay settings section of the server runtime environment creation wizard lets you select either Standard or Development( for the runtime’s Server Mode. The Standard server mode is selected by default. To enable Development Mode, select Development( and save the runtime environment. The next time you start any Liferay server that is based on this runtime environment, it starts in Development Mode.

To enable Development Mode for existing servers, access the Liferay settings section of your runtime environment by double-clicking on the server in the Servers tab.


Figure 1: You can set Developer Mode in the Liferay settings section of your runtime environment in Liferay IDE

For Liferay Portal servers below version 6.2 (e.g., Liferay v6.1 CE Server, Liferay v6.0 CE Server), Liferay IDE enables Developer Mode by default. On starting your Liferay server for the first time, IDE creates a file in your Liferay Portal directory. This properties file has the property setting:, which enables Developer Mode. Next you can take a look at how you can set Developer Mode outside of IDE.

Setting Developer Mode for Your Server Using

If you’re not using Liferay IDE, you must add the file to your application server’s configuration file in order to enable Developer Mode. Since each application server has a different configuration file or UI to specify system properties, you must follow your application server’s specific method for adding the file’s properties to the system properties.

For example, to deploy Liferay in Developer Mode on a Tomcat application server, you’d add to the list of options for your CATALINA_OPTS variable, in your file (setenv.bat in Windows).

Great! You’ve set up your Liferay server for Developer Mode. Now, when you modify your theme’s custom.css file directly in your Liferay bundle, you can see your changes applied immediately on redeploying your theme! Make sure you copy any changes you make back into your _diffs folder, or they’ll be overwritten when you redeploy your theme.

Related Topics

Designing a Layout Template

Developing Applications with Liferay Developer Studio

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