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Displaying Site Pages to Mobile Devices

Mobile device rules allow you to configure sets of rules to alter the behavior of the portal based on the device being used to access Liferay. The proportion of mobile device users browsing the web has been steadily increasing, so it’s important to be able to handle different kinds of devices appropriately. For instance, you can configure the look and feel of Liferay pages accessed by smartphone or tablet users differently from those accessed by PC users.

Both sites and individual pages can be configured with any number of rule groups. A rule group is designed to describe a group of devices; think of a rule group as a mobile device family. It can contain one or more rules that describe a category of devices, such as all Android devices or all iOS tablets. You can define as many rules in a rule group as you need to classify all the devices for which you’d like to define actions. Rule groups can be prioritized to determine which one applies to a given page request.

In order to configure mobile device rules, you need a way to find out the characteristics of the device. While some of the characteristics are provided by the device, most are not. For this reason, there are databases that contain information about thousands of devices. These databases make it possible to learn every detail about a device from the device type, which is included in each request sent to the portal. Liferay’s Mobile Device Rules can connect to device databases so that you can use their device characteristics in your rules.

Liferay provides such a database in the Liferay Mobile Device Detection (LMDD) app from the Liferay Marketplace. Click here for instructions on using Liferay Marketplace to find and install apps.

It’s possible to develop plugins that integrate with other device databases. Even if you don’t have a device database, you can still set up mobile device rules. They won’t, however, be effective until a database is deployed, because the portal won’t have enough information about the devices being used to make page requests. To learn how to tap into Liferay’s Device API, see the Device Detection.

You can access the Mobile Device Rules administrative page from the Content section of the Control Panel. Select the appropriate scope using the context menu selector so your rule groups are available where you expect them to be. The Mobile Device Rules administrative page displays a list of defined rule groups and lets you add more. To add rules to a rule group, select ActionsManage Rules, or click on a rule group to edit it, and then click the Manage Rules link.


Figure 3.28: You can manage device rules from the Mobile Device Rules administrative page.

The rules defined for a rule group, along with the priorities of the rule groups selected for a particular site or page, determine which rule group’s actions are applied to a given request. From the Manage Rules page for a specific rule set, you can add a rule by specifying a rule type. Remember that you can add as many rules to a rule group as you need in order to classify the devices on which you’d like to take actions. Note that, by default, only the Simple Rule type is available. The rules are designed, however, to be extensible, and additional rule types can be added by your developers. Once added, you can edit the rule to specify a device type and operating system.


Figure 3.29: You need to install a device recognition plugin to populate the OS list.

Once you’ve created some mobile device rule groups and added some rules to them, you’ll be ready to set up some actions. The actions defined for a rule group determine what happens to a particular request when the device is detected and the rule group has been found to apply.

You can add actions to a rule group from the Site Pages page of the Control Panel. Select either the public or private pages and then look for the Mobile Rule Groups link in the right-hand menu. Use the Select Rule Group button to select rule groups to be applied either to a site or to a single page. If you select the page group itself from the left-hand menu, the selected rule group applies to all the pages of the site by default. If, however, you select an individual page and then click the Select Rule Group button, the rule groups apply only to that page. You can select multiple rule groups for a particular site or page and order them by priority. The rule groups are checked in decreasing order of priority: the actions defined by the first rule group that applies are executed.


Figure 3.30: You can select a mobile device rule group to apply for a site or page from the Site Pages section of the Control Panel.

To add actions to a selected rule group, use the ActionsManage Actions button and then click Add Action. By default, there are four kinds of actions that can be configured for mobile rule groups: layout template modifications, theme modifications, simple redirects, and site redirects. Layout template modifications let you change the way portlets are arranged on pages delivered to mobile devices, and themes modifications let you select a specific look and feel. If it makes more sense for you to create separate mobile versions of certain sites or pages, you can use a redirect to make sure mobile device users get to the right page. To define a simple redirect, you need to specify a URL. To define a site redirect, you need only specify the site name and page name of the page to which you’re redirecting. Like mobile device rules, mobile device actions are designed to be extensible. Your developers can define custom actions in addition to the four actions provided by default.

To review, if you’d like to configure an action or actions that take place when mobile device requests are received, take the following steps:

  1. Create a mobile device rule group to represent the family of devices for which to define an action or actions.

  2. Define one or more rules for your rule group that describe the family of devices represented by your rule group.

  3. Apply your rule group to an entire page set of a site (all the public pages of a site or all the private pages) or to a single page.

  4. Define one or more actions for your rule group that describe how requests should be handled.

To see how this might work in practice, let’s discuss a few examples of how you can use mobile device rules. First, suppose you have a separate version of a site on your portal that’s specifically designed for mobile phones running Android or Bada. For our example, we’ll make a site called Android/Bada Liferay and we’ll configure the default Liferay site to redirect incoming requests from Android or Bada mobile phones to the Android/Bada Liferay site. Our first step is to create the Android/Bada Liferay site: go to the Sites page of the Control Panel and click AddBlank Site. Enter the name Android/Bada Liferay and click Save. Then, with Android/Bada selected in the context menu selector, click on Site Pages. By default, the newly created site doesn’t have any pages, so click on Add Page, enter the name Welcome, and click the Add Page button. Now our Android/Bada Liferay site has a public Welcome page just like our default Liferay site.

Next, select Liferay in the context menu selector and go to the Mobile Device Rules page of the Control Panel. Click on Add Rule Group, enter the name Android and Bada Mobile Phones, and click Save. You’ll see the message, No rules are configured for this rule group.


Figure 3.31: After adding a new rule, you’ll see a message indicating that no rules have been configured for the rule group.

Click the Manage Rules link and we’ll configure our rule group to apply only to mobile phones running Android or Bada. Click Add Rule, enter Rule 1 for the name and select Simple Rule for the type, then click Save. Then click on the rule to edit it or click ActionsEdit. Under OS, select Android and Bada OS (hold down Control to make multiple selections), select False under Tablet since we want our rule group to apply only to mobile phones, and click Save. Now we just need to define the redirect action for our rule group. Make sure Liferay is still selected in the context menu selector and click on Site Pages. Click on Mobile Rule Groups in the navigation menu to the right.


Figure 3.32: To apply a mobile device rule group to a page set of a site, select the site in the context menu selector, click on Mobile Rule Groups, click Select Rule Group, and select the desired rule group.

Click Select Rule Group and then click the Android and Bada Mobile Phones rule group that you configured. Once you’ve selected your rule group, click Mobile Rule Groups again and click either on your rule group or ActionsManage Actions next to it. Then click Add Action, enter the name Android/Bada Liferay Redirect, and select Site Redirect under Type. Under the Site dropdown menu that appears, select Android/Bada Liferay and under the Page dropdown menu that appears, select the Welcome page that you created earlier. Lastly, click Save. That’s it! Now Android and Bada mobile phone users are redirected to the Android/Bada Liferay site from the Liferay site.

Let’s look at one more example of using mobile device rules before we move on. Suppose you’d like to create another rule so that when a site is accessed by an Android or iOS tablet, a different layout is used. To set this up, we need to follow the same four steps described above. First, make sure that the Liferay site is selected in the Control Panel’s context menu selector and navigate to the Mobile Device Rules page of the Control Panel. Add a new rule group called Android and iOS Tablets. Add a simple rule called Rule 1 to this rule group. As with the previous example, we only need one rule to describe our device family. Edit Rule 1 and select Android and iPhone OS under the OS heading and True under the Tablet heading, then click Save.

Next, click on Site Pages in the Control Panel, select Mobile Rule Groups, and select the Android and iOS Tablets rule group. Notice that you’ve now selected two rule groups for the Liferay site’s public pages and they’ve been assigned priorities. If a device making a request belongs to both of the device families represented by the rule groups, the priority of the rule groups determines which rule group’s actions are executed. Note that in our example, the first rule group contains only mobile phones and the second rule group contains only tablets, so no devices can belong to both rule groups. Now we just need to define an action for our Android and iOS Tablets rule group to use a different layout: On the Site Pages page of the Control Panel, click on Mobile Rule Groups, and then on ActionsManage Actions next to Android and iOS Tablets. Click on Add Action, enter the name Layout Template Modification, and select the Layout Template Modification action type. Lastly, select the 1 Column layout template (or whichever one you like) and click Save. Good job! Now the Liferay site’s pages are presented to Android and iOS tablet users with the 1 Column layout template.

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