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RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works such as blog entries and news articles. RSS allows users to stay up-to-date with your site’s content without actually having to visit your site! Instead, they can subscribe to your site’s RSS feed with an RSS feed reader. Their RSS reader reads your site’s RSS feed and displays information about all the web content that’s published on your site, such as each article’s title and publication date. If one of your site’s web content articles grabs their attention, then they can follow their RSS reader’s link to the article’s full content on your site. Many RSS readers are available today, including web-based readers, ones for the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, and ones for mobile devices. Let’s see how to create RSS feeds in Liferay.

Managing RSS Feeds from the Control Panel

To manage a Liferay site’s RSS feeds, navigate to the Site Administration → Content page of your site and click Web Content. Site administrators can use this Web Content administration portlet to manage their site’s web content, including web content structures and templates, which we examined above. Site administrators can also use the Web Content administration portlet to manage their site’s RSS feeds. Click ManageFeeds if you’d like to add, edit, or delete RSS feeds.

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Figure 3.7: Clicking ManageFeeds from the Control Panel’s Web Content administration portlet opens a popup window which displays your site’s RSS feeds. You can add or edit RSS feeds, configure their permissions, or delete them.

Click the Add Feed button to add a new feed. You need to enter a name and select a target page for the feed. A feed’s target page serves two purposes:

  1. The site to which the target page belongs determines which web content articles appear in the feed. For example, if the target page belongs to the Marketing site, only web content articles belong to the Marketing site will appear in the feed.

  2. The target page is the page where “orphaned” web content articles will be displayed. “Orphaned” web content articles are articles that have been published in your site but have not been configured to be displayed in specific Web Content Display portlets. Liferay RSS feeds can provide links to any published web content articles, both “orphaned” articles and articles that have been configured to be displayed in specific Web Content Display portlets. For articles that have been configured to be displayed in a specific portlet, the RSS feeds’ links point to the portal page of that portlet. For “orphaned” articles, the RSS feeds’ links point to the feed’s target page. When users click on such links for “orphaned” articles, the full content of the “orphaned” article is displayed on the target page.

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Figure 3.8: To create a new RSS feed, you only need to specify a name and a target page. Of course, you can also configure other features of the feed such as its permissions, web content constraints, and presentation settings.

To specify a target page, you need to enter the target page’s friendly URL. Note that friendly URLs do not include the host name. For example, the friendly URL of a public page called Welcome belonging to a site called Marketing might look like this: /web/marketing/welcome. Optionally, you can specify a target portlet ID. This would be the portlet ID of a Web Content Display portlet on the target page in which “orphaned” web content should be displayed. The portlet must exist or else the content will not displayed. The URL field contains the address of your RSS feed. It appears after you’ve actually created the feed by clicking Save.

The final two sections of the Add Feed form allow you customize which web content articles appear in your feed.

  1. The Web Content Constraints section allows you to select a web content type and a structure with which to filter the articles that appear in your feed. You can select a particular type of web content such as Announcements, News, or Press Release. Only articles of the type you select will appear in your feed. You can also choose for only web content articles that have a particular structure to appear in your feed. This is useful since customized kinds of web content articles are often created using web content structures.

  2. The Presentation Settings section allows you to customize additional details about your feed and how articles are displayed in your feed. Leave the Feed Item Content set to Web Content Description if you’d just like a description of each article to appear in your feed. Set it to Rendered Web Content: Use Default Template if you’d like the full content of each article to appear in the feed. Customizing the Feed Type allows you to choose which web feed language to use for your feed. You can choose Atom 1.0 (the default), RSS 1.0, or RSS 2.0. Customize the Maximum Items to Display to choose the maximum number of articles should appear in your feed at one time. Leave the Order By Column set to Modified Date to have articles arranged in order from the last time they were published or modified. You can set the Order by Column to Display Date if you want to have articles arranged in order from the time they were configured to be displayed in a specific Web Content Display portlet. Lastly, you can leave the Order by Type set to Ascending to have the oldest articles at the top of the feed or you can set it to Descending to have the newest articles at the top of the feed.

When you’re done configuring your RSS feed, you can click Preview to see how your feed looks. If you’re satisfied, click Save to create your feed.

Once one or more feeds have been created, they’ll appear in a list in the Feeds popup window when you click ManageFeeds. You can edit existing feeds using the same form used for creating them. The main difference is that when you edit an existing feed, the URL field is populated. Copy this URL into a new browser tab or window to test your feed. From the Feeds popup window, you can also customize the permissions of feeds or delete feeds.

It’s possible to completely disable RSS feeds at the portal level. You can do this by setting the rss.feeds.enabled property to false. By default, it’s set to true. If you keep the default, RSS enabled, you can make several other RSS property customizations. Please refer to the RSS section of your portal.properties file for details.

Using the RSS Portlet

The RSS portlet allows you to display any number of RSS feeds and configure how they are displayed. If you’re looking for a web-based RSS reader, look no further: just add the RSS portlet to one your personal site’s private pages, and voila! You have your own personal RSS reader. Open the portlet’s Configuration popup to select the feeds to be displayed and customize the display. The RSS portlet can also be placed on sites’ public or private pages to make feeds available to guests or site members, respectively. In these cases, make sure that only site administrators have permission to customize the RSS portlet and select feeds to be displayed.

Once you’ve added the RSS portlet to a page, open the portlet’s Configuration popup window by clicking on the gear icon at the top right corner of the portlet and selecting Configuration.

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Figure 3.9: The RSS portlet’s configuration window lets you choose feeds to be displayed and allows you to customize the display settings.

By default, the RSS portlet displays two feeds. In the Feeds section, click on the green plus sign to add a new feed or on the red minus sign to remove a feed. Enter the URL of the RSS feed to display into the URL field. If you leave the Title field blank, the feed’s title appears in the RSS portlet. If you enter a custom title into the Title field, the custom title appears instead of the feed’s title.

In the Display Settings section, use the following checkboxes to select the feed details that should be displayed:

  • Show Feed Title
  • Show Feed Published Date
  • Show Feed Description
  • Show Feed Image
  • Show Feed Item Author

You can also select the number of entries and expanded entries that should be displayed per feed. Expanded entries show more of an article’s actual content than regular entries. By default, each feed shows eight entries per feed but only one expanded entry per feed. You can set the feed image alignment to control whether feed images appear to the right or left of the text. By default, the feed image alignment is set to Right. Finally, you can select a header web content and/or a footer web content. These are web content articles that appear in the RSS portlet either above all of the feeds or below all of the feeds. You can use these to provide an introduction, description, or footnotes about the feeds that you’ve selected to be displayed.

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Figure 3.10: By default, the RSS portlet is configured to display feeds from Liferay Community Blogs, Yahoo News, and the New York Times. This image displays what the Liferay Community Blogs feed looks like in the RSS portlet.

Now that we’ve discussed how to create, manage, and use RSS feeds, let’s examine site templates and page templates. Site templates are a powerful tool for managing many similar sites. Let’s examine how they work and then we’ll look at page templates.

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