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Staying in touch with Chat and Meetings

Liferay’s Chat and Meetings apps let you stay in contact and collaborate with other users. The Chat portlet lets you send instant messages to other logged-in users. The Meetings app integrates with the BigBlueButton and Zoom web conferencing services to let you schedule and conduct meetings from your Liferay instance. We’ll cover both apps here. You’re only a few clicks away from your fellow users!

Using Chat

Liferay’s Chat portlet provides a convenient way of allowing users to send each other instant messages when they are logged into your web site. It appears as a bar at the bottom of every page, showing who is logged on, their statuses, and any chats the logged-in user has open.


Figure 9.33: Liferay’s Chat Portlet offers ways to update your status and notifications through the Settings menu.

The Chat portlet is distributed with the Liferay bundles, but is not included as part of the .war distribution, as it is a separate plugin. If you installed the Liferay .war manually on your application server, you can install the Chat portlet by accessing Liferay Marketplace. You can go to Marketplace by navigating the Control Panel and clicking Store under the Apps heading. You can learn more about Marketplace and how to purchase/download an app in the Liferay Marketplace chapter.

The Chat portlet is very simple to use. To change the settings, click Settings (found near the lower right corner next to Online Friends). Here you can set your status, choose whether or not to show that you are online, whether or not to play a sound if someone sends you a message while you have the window or tab in the background, and whether to enable desktop notifications for new messages. The Chat portlet displays the number of your friends who are online. Click the Online Friends link and then click on a friend’s name to open a chat window. You can have multiple chats open at a time, and can have one or more of them minimized.

Filtering Available Users

By default, all online portal users appear in the Chat portlet. If you want to filter who appears in your contact list you can, but the configuration must be done by someone who has administrative access to the server. The configuration change must be made at the time the chat portlet is deployed.

To filter users, create a portlet-ext.properties file to override some properties of your Chat portlet’s portlet.properties file. You could modify your chat portlet’s portlet.properties file directly, but it’s a best practice to override it instead.

Before you deploy your Chat portlet, extract it to your file system. You can create the portlet-ext.properties file in the chat-portlet/WEB-INF/src directory. It gets copied over to your chat-portlet/WEB-INF/classes directory upon deployment. When you’re finished making changes to your portlet-ext.properties file, you’ll zip the directory structure back into a .war file for deployment. Note that the Chat portlet must be redeployed for settings in properties files to take effect.

The property that refines the list of users that show up in the Chat portlet is buddy.list.strategy. Some common values are listed here:


The default value is all. To show only other users of the sites a user belongs to, set buddy.list.strategy to sites. Setting buddy.list.strategy to social makes only a user’s social connections available in the Chat portlet. Note that you can also combine values by separating them with a comma. Combined values behave like a logical AND statement. Thus, sites,social shows other users of the sites a user belongs to, and the user’s social connections.

You can also further refine the sites setting by using the property buddy.list.site.excludes. This property allows you to exclude specific sites in your portal from the buddy.list.strategy=sites setting. This is especially useful if you have a default site that all portal users belong to, but you still want to filter the users that appear in the Chat portlet by site. If this default site isn’t excluded, then all portal users show up in the chat portlet when buddy.list.strategy is set to sites. The site name to give for buddy.list.site.excludes is the value of the name column for the Group table in your portal’s database. It must be entered in the same case as it is in the database. For example, if you want to exclude a site called Default, enter buddy.list.site.excludes=Default. That site is then ignored when determining the users to show in the Chat portlet.

The social setting for buddy.list.strategy has further filtering options as well. You can set the allowed types of social relationships through the property buddy.list.allowed.social.relation.types. By default this property is set to 2,12. Those values correspond, respectively, to the Friend and Connection social relationship types. The values for some additional social relationship types are listed here along with those of Friend and Connection:


These are bidirectional social relationship types as defined in Liferay’s social API. It’s important to note that these aren’t available out-of-the-box. You must install apps that make use of them before you can leverage them in your portal. For example, Liferay’s Social Networking app from the Marketplace makes use of the “Friend” social relationship type. Similarly, Liferay Social Office uses the “Connection” social relationship type. Developers can make use of any of the social relationship types available in the API.

Jabber Server Integration

Liferay 6.1 introduced Jabber server integration to Liferay’s Chat portlet. Jabber is the original name of the XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) protocol, an open-standard communications protocol based on XML. Using a chat server helps Liferay’s chat scale to very large installations and allows for communication between different chat clients. For example, Jabber server integration allows users using the chat portlet in their browser windows to chat with other users using desktop clients like Empathy, Pidgin, or Kopete.

Jabber server integration is not enabled by default since it requires a running Jabber server. Once you have installed and started a Jabber server, you can enable Jabber server integration by creating a portlet-ext.properties file to override some properties of your Chat portlet’s portlet.properties file. You could modify your Chat portlet’s portlet.properties file directly, but it’s a best practice to override it instead.

Installation Steps

You can use any chat server that supports Jabber. The Chat portlet’s Jabber server integration feature was tested with versions 3.7.0 and 3.7.1 of Openfire, a real time collaboration server distributed under the Open Source Apache License. You can download Openfire from http://www.igniterealtime.org/projects/openfire/. To enable Jabber chat integration, follow these steps:

  1. Start your chat server. If you are using Openfire on a Linux/Mac system, you can start/stop the chat server by executing the openfire shell script in the openfire/bin directory. Usage: ./openfire start or ./openfire stop

  2. Override the portlet.properties file in your /chat-portlet/WEB-INF/src/ directory with a portlet-ext.properties file in the same directory. When you deploy the portlet, the properties files should be copied to your /chat-portlet/WEB-INF/classes/ directory. If you have already deployed the Chat portlet, create the portlet-ext.properties file in your /chat-portlet/WEB-INF/classes/ directory. The contents of your portlet-ext.properties file should like this:

    jabber.service.name=<Host Name>

Note that you must change jabber.service.name to the “Host Name”. If you are using Openfire, you can find the Host Name by using the Openfire administration web tool. If you did not set up administrative credentials when you started Openfire, the default credentials are username: admin, password: admin.


Figure 9.34: View your server information using the Openfire Administration Web Tool.

Additionally, make sure that you set jabber.enabled to true and have added the correct values to jabber.host and jabber.port. If you installed your chat server on a remote machine or chose to not use the default port, change jabber.host and jabber.port accordingly.

  1. Deploy your Chat portlet. Remember that this portlet must be of version 6.1 or higher.

Single Sign On

If the property jabber.import.user.enabled is set to true, the Chat portlet will import the user automatically to Jabber after he logs in to the portal. Once the user is imported, he can use any Jabber client using the same screen name and password he uses to log in to the portal. His buddies will be also imported as they become online in the Chat portlet.

Note that it’s a “lazy import”. Users are imported only after they log in to the portal and their buddies will be added to his list only if they see each other within the Chat portlet. They won’t be able to use other Jabber chat clients until they log in to the portal.

If jabber.import.user.enabled is set to false, users need to create their Jabber account and add buddies manually. They have to create their accounts using the same screen name and password they use in the portal. If they don’t, the Chat portlet won’t be able to connect to their Jabber account.

Alternatively, since Openfire integrates with LDAP, if you are using Openfire and your portal is also using LDAP for authentication, you can disable the jabber.import.user.enabled property.

Using Meetings

The Meetings app, available in the Liferay Marketplace, integrates with the BigBlueButton and Zoom web conferencing services. It lets you schedule, manage, and launch meetings from within Liferay. This app includes two portlets: Meetings, and Meetings Admin. The Meetings portlet lets you schedule, manage, and launch meetings. The Meetings Admin portlet lets you add and configure BigBlueButton and Zoom servers to conduct meetings with. You must have a server configured in Meetings Admin before you can create a meeting in the Meetings portlet.

Once you deploy the Meetings app, you can find Meetings Admin in the Control Panel’s Configuration section. When you first access Meetings Admin, it presents you with an Add Server button and a message telling you there are no servers. To add a server, click Add Server. In the New Server form that appears, give your server a name and select Zoom or BigBlueButton in the Provider Type menu. If you select Zoom, then you must enter your Zoom API key and secret in the corresponding fields. If you select BigBlueButton, then you must enter your BigBlueButton API URL and secret. The following screenshot shows the New Server form.


Figure 9.35: Create a new meeting server by filling out the New Server form.

When you finish entering your server’s information, click Save. Meetings Admin then lists your server in a table. You can edit or delete this server by clicking its Actions button and selecting Edit or Delete. Once you have a server, you can create a meeting in the Meetings portlet.

The Meetings portlet is in the Application menu’s Social category. You can add it to any page you want to create meetings from. This portlet lists any scheduled meetings in the Current tab. The Completed tab lists any finished meetings. Click the Add Meeting button to schedule a meeting. In the New Meeting form that appears, enter your meeting’s information. First, give your meeting a name and enter its time, date, and description. In the Provider field, select the server to use. Note that in this field Preferred Solution represents a Zoom server, and Private Solution represents a BigBlueButton server. To require attendees to use a password to join the meeting, check the Require Password checkbox and then create this password by typing it into the text field below the checkbox. To set the meeting to automatically begin the video conference when attendees join, check the Automatically Start Video checkbox. Lastly, add the participants that you want to join your meeting, and click Save. The Meetings portlet then lists your meeting in a table in the Current tab. Scheduling a meeting notifies the participants via the Notifications portlet and email. The email contains the organizer’s name, the meeting’s date and time, and a link and instructions for joining the meeting. The following screenshots show the New Meeting form, and the Meetings portlet with a currently scheduled meeting.


Figure 9.36: Create a new meeting by filling out the New Meeting form.


Figure 9.37: The Meetings portlet lists any currently scheduled meetings in its Current tab.

To view a meeting’s details, simply click it in the Meetings portlet’s table. If you have the correct permissions, this also presents you with the options to edit, delete, start, or export the meeting. You can also view the meeting’s invitation email template from here. Note that you don’t have to go into the meeting’s details to perform these actions. You can also do so from each meeting’s Actions button in the table. Note that when a meeting is in progress, Start Meeting becomes End Meeting, and Join Meeting appears.

It’s important to note that your meeting doesn’t actually run inside Liferay. When you start or join a meeting, the Meetings portlet hands you off to the meeting’s web conferencing service (BigBlueButton or Zoom) via the server you specified in the Meetings Admin portlet. To start or join a meeting, you must therefore have any required BigBlueButton or Zoom software installed on your machine.

Next, let’s look at how you can integrate your email addresses with Liferay’s Mail portlet.

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