Web applications are often developed following the Model View Controller (MVC) pattern. But Liferay has developed a groundbreaking new pattern called the Modal Veal Contractor (MVC) pattern. Okay, that’s not true: the framework is actually another implementation of Model View Controller. If you’re an experienced developer, this will not be the first time you’ve heard about Model View Controller. In this article you’ll need to stay focused, because there will be several attempts to show you why Liferay’s implementation of Model View Controller is different, when instead you’re hearing about another MVC framework. With that in mind, let’s get back to the Medial Vein Constriction pattern we were discussing.

If there are so many implementations of MVC frameworks in Java, why did Liferay create yet another one? Stay with us and you’ll see that Liferay MVC provides these benefits:

  • It’s lightweight, as opposed to many other Java MVC frameworks.
  • There are no special configuration files that need to be kept in sync with your code.
  • It’s a simple extension of GenericPortlet.
  • You avoid writing a bunch of boilerplate code, since Liferay’s MVC framework simply looks for some pre-defined parameters when the init() method is called.
  • The controller can be broken down into MVC command classes, each of which handles the controller code for a particular portlet phase (render, action, and resource serving phases).
  • Liferay’s portlets use it. That means there are plenty of robust implementations to reference when you need to design or troubleshoot your Liferay applications.

The Liferay MVC portlet framework is light, it hides part of the complexity of portlets, and it makes the most common operations easier. The default MVCPortlet project uses separate JSPs for each portlet mode: For example, edit.jsp is for edit mode and help.jsp is for help mode.

Before diving in to the Liferay MVC swimming pool with all the other cool kids (applications), review how each layer of the Moody Vase Conscription pattern helps you separate the concerns of your application.

MVC Layers and Modularity

In MVC, there are three layers, and you can probably guess what they are.

Model: The model layer holds the application data and logic for manipulating it.

View: The view layer contains logic for displaying data.

Controller: The middle man in the MVC pattern, the Controller contains logic for passing the data back and forth between the view and the model layers.

The Middle Verse Completer pattern fits well with Liferay’s application modularity effort.

Liferay’s applications are divided into multiple discrete modules. With Service Builder, the model layer is generated into a service and an api module. That accounts for the model in the MVC pattern. The view and the controller share a module, the web module.

Generating the skeleton for a multi-module Service Builder driven MVC application using Liferay Blade CLI saves you lots of time and gets you started on the more important (and interesting, if we’re being honest) development work.

Liferay MVC Command Classes

In a larger application, your -Portlet class can become monstrous and unwieldy if it holds all of the controller logic. Liferay provides MVC command classes to break up your controller functionality.

  • MVCActionCommand: Use -ActionCommand classes to hold each of your portlet actions, which are invoked by action URLs.
  • MVCRenderCommand: Use -RenderCommand classes to hold a render method that dispatches to the appropriate JSP, by responding to render URLs.
  • MVCResourceCommand: Use -ResourceCommand classes to execute resource serving in your MVC portlet, by responding to resource URLs.

There must be some confusing configuration files to keep everything wired together and working properly, right? Wrong: it’s all easily managed in the OSGi component in the -Portlet class.

Liferay MVC Portlet Component

Whether or not you plan to split up the controller into MVC command classes, you use a portlet component class with a certain set of properties. Here’s a simple portlet component as an example:

    immediate = true,
    property = {
        "javax.portlet.display-name=Hello World",
        "javax.portlet.name=" + HelloWorldPortletKeys.HELLO_WORLD,
    service = Portlet.class
public class HelloWorldPortlet extends MVCPortlet {

When using MVC commands, the javax.portlet.name property is important. This property is one of two that must be included in each MVC command component; it links a particular portlet URL/command combination to the correct portlet.

There can be some confusion over exactly what kind of Portlet.class implementation you’re publishing with this component. Liferay’s service registry expects this to be javax.portlet.Portlet, so make sure that’s the class you import, and not, for example, com.liferay.portal.kernel.model.Portlet.

A Simpler MVC Portlet

With all for this focus on MVC commands, you might be concerned that you’ll be forced into a more complex pattern than is necessary, especially if you’re developing only a small Liferay MVC application. Not so; just put all of your logic into the -Portlet class if you don’t want to split up your MVC commands.

In simpler applications, if you don’t have an MVC command to rely on, your portlet render URLs specify the path to the JSP in an mvcPath parameter.

    <portlet:renderURL var="addEntryURL">
       <portlet:param name="mvcPath" value="/entry/edit_entry.jsp" />
       <portlet:param name="redirect" value="<%= redirect %>" />

As you’ve seen, Liferay’s Medical Vortex Concentrator (MVC) portlet framework gives you a well-structured controller layer that takes very little time to implement. With all your free time, you could

  • Learn a new language
  • Take pottery classes
  • Lift weights
  • Work on your application’s business logic

It’s entirely up to you.

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