Creating Custom Item Selector Views

Have you found you need to create a new selection view for your app? No problem. Item Selector views are determined by the type of entity the user is selecting. The Item Selector can render multiple views for the same entity type. For example, when a user requires an image from the Item Selector, the selection views shown below are rendered:


Figure 1: An entity type can have multiple selection views.

Each tab: Blog Images, Documents and Media, URL, and Upload Image, is a selection view for the Item Selector, each one represented by an *ItemSelectorCriterion class. The tabs in figure 1 are represented by the following *ItemSelectorCriterion:

The default selection views may provide everything you need for your application. If, however, your application requires a custom selection view, for instance to link to an external image provider, you can follow the steps outlined in this tutorial.

This tutorial covers how to create new selection views for the Item Selector.

Get started by configuring the module for your view next.

Configuring the Module

Follow these steps to prepare your module:

  1. Add these dependencies to your module’s build.gradle:

    dependencies {
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay", name: "com.liferay.item.selector.api", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay", name: "com.liferay.item.selector.criteria.api", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.portal.impl", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.portal.kernel", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "com.liferay.portal", name: "com.liferay.util.taglib", version: "2.0.0"
            compileOnly group: "javax.portlet", name: "portlet-api", version: "2.0"
            compileOnly group: "javax.servlet", name: "javax.servlet-api", version: "3.0.1"
            compileOnly group: "org.osgi", name: "org.osgi.service.component.annotations", version: "1.3.0"
  2. Add your module’s information to the bnd.bnd file. For example, the configuration below adds the information for a module called My Custom View.

    Bundle-Name: My Custom View
    Bundle-Version: 1.0.0
  3. Add a Web-ContextPath to your bnd.bnd to point to the resources for your module. For example:

    Web-ContextPath: /my-custom-view

    If you don’t have a Web-ContextPath your module won’t know where your resources are. The Include-Resource header points to the relative path for the module’s resources.

Now that your module is configured, you can create the view next.

Implementing the View

To create a new view you must first know what kind of entities you want to select in the new view: images, videos, users, etc. The kind of entities you choose determines the specific ItemSelectorCriterion you need to use. For example if you were selecting images, you must use the ImageItemSelectorCriterion.

Next, you need to know the type of information the entity can return when it’s selected. For example, if the entity returns its URL, you would use URLItemSelectorReturnType for the return type.

For a full list of the available criterion and returns types that Liferay’s apps and app suite’s provide see the Item Selector Criterion and Return Types reference.

Once you’ve determined the kinds of entities you wish to select, follow these steps to create your selection view:

  1. Create an Item Selector View Component class:

        property = {"item.selector.view.order:Integer=200"},
        service = ItemSelectorView.class

    Note that the OSGi component is registered with the property item.selector.view.order. The Item Selector view order (the order of the rendered tab views) is prioritized according to these settings:

    • The item.selector.view.order property’s value for multiple views with the same criteria. The lower the value is, the more priority it has, and the sooner it will appear in the order.
  2. Implement the ItemSelectorView interface using the criterion the view requires. For example, the configuration below uses the ImageItemSelectorCriterion class to implement the view:

    public class SampleItemSelectorView
        implements ItemSelectorView<ImageItemSelectorCriterion> {
        public Class<ImageItemSelectorCriterion> getItemSelectorCriterionClass() 
            return ImageItemSelectorCriterion.class;
        public ServletContext getServletContext() {
            return _servletContext;
        public List<ItemSelectorReturnType> getSupportedItemSelectorReturnTypes() {
            return _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes;

    The implementation above also sets up some methods you’ll use in the steps that follow. The getSupportedItemSelectorReturnTypes method returns a list of *ItemSelectorReturnType*s. You’ll populate this list in a later step to specify the return types the selection view supports.

  3. Configure the title, search options, and visibility settings for the selection view:

    An example configuration is shown below for a selection view called Sample Selector:

    public String getTitle(Locale locale) {
        return "Sample Selector";
    public boolean isShowSearch() {
        return false;
    public boolean isVisible(ThemeDisplay themeDisplay) {
        return true;

    The following methods are demonstrated above:

    • getTitle method: returns the localized title of the tab to display in the Item Selector dialog.
    • isVisible() method: returns whether the Item Selector view is visible. In most cases, you’ll want to set this to true. You can use this method to add conditional logic to disable the view.
  4. Next, set the render settings for your view, using the renderHTML method. The example below points to a JSP file to render the view:

    public void renderHTML(
        ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response,
        ImageItemSelectorCriterion itemSelectorCriterion,
        PortletURL portletURL, String itemSelectedEventName,
        boolean search
    throws IOException, ServletException {
        ServletContext servletContext = getServletContext();
        RequestDispatcher requestDispatcher =
        requestDispatcher.include(request, response);

    The renderHTML methods passes the *ItemSelectorCriterion required to display the selection view. Next, the portletURL, used to invoke the Item Selector, is passed. Then the itemSelectedEventName is passed. This is the event name that the caller listens for. When an element is selected, the view fires a JavaScript event with this name. Finally, a search boolean is passed, specifying when the view should render search results. When the user performs a search, this boolean should be set to true.

    Note that the itemSelectedEventName is passed as a request attribute, so it can be used in the view markup.

    The view markup is specified this way:

    RequestDispatcher requestDispatcher =

    Although the example uses JSPs, you can use another language such as FreeMarker to render the markup.

  5. Use the @Reference annotation to reference your module’s class for the setServletContext method.

    Below is an example configuration:

        target =
        unbind = "-"
    public void setServletContext(ServletContext servletContext) { _servletContext = servletContext; }

    The target parameter is used to specify the available services for the servlet context. In this case, it specifies the com.liferay.selector.sample.web class as the default value, using the osgi.web.symbolicname property. Finally, the unbind = _ parameter specifies that there is no unbind method for this module. A method is defined to set the servlet context as well.

  6. Finally, populate the _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes list specified in step 2 with the return types that this view supports.

    The example below adds the URLItemSelectorReturnType class and FileEntryItemSelectorReturnType class to the list of supported return types, but you could use more return types if the view could return them. More return types means that the view is more reusable:

    private static final List<ItemSelectorReturnType>
        _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes =
                new ItemSelectorReturnType[] {
                    new FileEntryItemSelectorReturnType(),
                    new URLItemSelectorReturnType()
     private ServletContext _servletContext;

    The servlet context variable is declared at the bottom of the file.

As a complete example, below is the full code for the FlickrItemSelectorView class:

public class FlickrItemSelectorView
        implements ItemSelectorView<FlickrItemSelectorCriterion> {

        public Class<FlickrItemSelectorCriterion> getItemSelectorCriterionClass() {
                return FlickrItemSelectorCriterion.class;

        public List<ItemSelectorReturnType> getSupportedItemSelectorReturnTypes() {
                return _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes;

        public String getTitle(Locale locale) {
                return FlickrItemSelectorView.class.getName();

        public boolean isShowSearch() {
                return false;

        public boolean isVisible(ThemeDisplay themeDisplay) {
                return true;

        public void renderHTML(
                        ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response,
                        FlickrItemSelectorCriterion flickrItemSelectorCriterion,
                        PortletURL portletURL, String itemSelectedEventName, 
                        boolean search)
                throws IOException {

                PrintWriter printWriter = response.getWriter();

                        "<html>" + FlickrItemSelectorView.class.getName() + 

        private static final List<ItemSelectorReturnType>
                _supportedItemSelectorReturnTypes = 
                                new ItemSelectorReturnType[] {
                                        new TestURLItemSelectorReturnType()


The diagram below illustrates how the Item Selector’s API works (right-click to view larger image):


Figure 2: Item Selector views are determined by the desired return types of the criterion, the supported return types of the view, and the criterion supported by the view.

Once you’ve implemented your Item Selector view, you must create the view markup.

Writing your View Markup

You’ve implemented your view, specifying the criteria and return types, along with important configuration information, such as how to render the view. All that’s left is to write the markup for your selection view.

Naturally, the markup for your selection view will vary greatly depending on the requirements of your app. You can use taglibs, AUI components, or even pure HTML and JavaScript if you prefer, to write your view. Regardless of the approach you choose to create your view, the view must do two key things:

  • Render the entities for the user to select
  • Contain JavaScript logic that passes the information specified by the Item Selector return type via a JavaScript event when an entity is selected.

If you’re following the example in the last section, the JavaScript event name has been passed as a request attribute in the renderHTML method of the *ItemSelectorView class, so it can be used in the view markup as follows:
        `<%= {ITEM_SELECTED_EVENT_NAME} %>',


Below is the complete Layouts.jsp view markup for the com.liferay.layout.item.selector.web module:

Some Java imports are defined first:

LayoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext = 

LayoutItemSelectorCriterion layoutItemSelectorCriterion = 

Portlet portlet = PortletLocalServiceUtil.getPortletById(
company.getCompanyId(), portletDisplay.getId());

Note that the LayoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext is an optional class that contains additional information about the criteria and view, but it isn’t required.

The snippet below imports a CSS file for styling and places it in the <head> of the page:

        <link href="<%= PortalUtil.getStaticResourceURL(
        request, application.getContextPath() + "/css/main.css", 
        %>" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" />

You can learn more about using the liferay-util taglibs in the Using the Liferay Util Taglib tutorial.

This snippet creates the UI to display the layout entities. It uses the liferay-layout:layouts-tree taglib along with the Lexicon design language to create cards:

<div class="container-fluid-1280 layouts-selector">
        <div class="card-horizontal main-content-card">
                <div class="card-row card-row-padded">
                                checkContentDisplayPage="<%= layoutItemSelectorCriterion.isCheckDisplayPage() %>"
                                draggableTree="<%= false %>"
                                expandFirstNode="<%= true %>"
                                groupId="<%= scopeGroupId %>"
                                portletURL="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getEditLayoutURL() %>"
                                privateLayout="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.isPrivateLayout() %>"
                                rootNodeName="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getRootNodeName() %>"
                                saveState="<%= false %>"
                                selectedLayoutIds="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getSelectedLayoutIds() %>"
                                selPlid="<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getSelPlid() %>"

The configuration above renders the UI shown in the figure below:


Figure 3: The Layouts Item Selector view uses Lexicon and Liferay Layout taglibs to create the UI.

This portion of the aui:script returns the path for the page:

<aui:script use="aui-base">
        var LString = A.Lang.String;

        var getChosenPagePath = function(node) {
                var buffer = [];

                if (A.instanceOf(node, A.TreeNode)) {
                        var labelText = LString.escapeHTML(node.get('labelEl').text());


                                function(treeNode) {
                                        var labelEl = treeNode.get('labelEl');

                                        if (labelEl) {
                                                labelText = LString.escapeHTML(labelEl.text());


                return buffer.join(' > ');

The snippet below passes the return type data when the layout(entity) is selected. In particular, take note of the url and uuid variables, which retrieve the URL or UUID for the layout:

        var setSelectedPage = function(event) {
                var disabled = true;

                var messageText = '<%= UnicodeLanguageUtil.get(request, "there-is-no-selected-page") %>';

                var lastSelectedNode = event.newVal;

                var labelEl = lastSelectedNode.get('labelEl');

                var link ='a');

                var url = link.attr('data-url');
                var uuid = link.attr('data-uuid');

                var data = {};

                if (link && url) {
                        disabled = false;

                        data.layoutpath = getChosenPagePath(lastSelectedNode);

This checks if the return type information is a URL or a UUID; then it sets the value for the JSON object’s data attribute accordingly:

                                <c:when test="<%= Objects.equals(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectorReturnTypeName(), URLItemSelectorReturnType.class.getName()) %>">
                                        data.value = url;
                                <c:when test="<%= Objects.equals(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectorReturnTypeName(), UUIDItemSelectorReturnType.class.getName()) %>">
                                        data.value = uuid;

                <c:if test="<%= Validator.isNotNull(layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getCkEditorFuncNum()) %>">
                        data.ckeditorfuncnum: <%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getCkEditorFuncNum() %>;

The data-url and data-uuid attributes are in the HTML markup for the Layouts Item Selector. The HTML markup for an instance of the Layouts Item Selector is shown below:


Figure 4: The URL and UUID can be seen in the data-url and data-uuid attributes of the Layout Item Selector’s HTML markup.

The last line adds the CKEditorFuncNum for the editor to the JSON object’s data attribute.

The JavaScript trigger event, specified in the Item Selector return type, is fired, passing the data JSON object with the required return type information:

                        '<%= layoutItemSelectorViewDisplayContext.getItemSelectedEventName() %>',
                                data: data

Finally, the layout is set to the selected page:

        var container ='#<portlet:namespace />treeContainerOutput');

        if (container) {
                container.swallowEvent('click', true);

                var tree = container.getData('tree-view');

                tree.after('lastSelectedChange', setSelectedPage);

Your new selection view is automatically rendered by the Item Selector in every portlet that uses the criterion and return types you defined, without modifying anything in those portlets.

Now you know how to create custom views for the Item Selector!

Related Topics

Selecting Entities Using the Item Selector

Creating Custom Item Selector Entities

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