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Using Liferay Portal as a collaborative platform

Many sites have grown organically. You may have grown your community by using separate tools: first a forums application, and then a wiki for collaborative documentation, and maybe even a chat application. It can be hard (and error-prone) to integrate all these applications so your users can use them seamlessly. Thankfully, Liferay includes a suite of collaborative applications, and they’re all integrated together.

Liferay Portal offers every standard collaborative application that’s available. These applications range from personal productivity applications like a calendar and email, to community-building applications like message boards, polls, and wikis.

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Figure 1.6: Liferay Portal’s message boards are as fully featured as any standalone forum application, with the added benefit that they’re integrated with the rest of the system.

This is a suite of integrated applications with all the features of similar, standalone applications. For example, Liferay Portal’s message boards include categories and subcategories, message threads, captcha, RSS feeds, email notification, posting via email, and much more. But more than this, the applications are integrated with the rest of Liferay Portal’s framework. Users log in, and their profiles are used automatically by the message boards and all the other collaborative applications. And as we’ll see later, functionality from the built in applications can be added to your own to provide features like comments in your own software, and you don’t have to write any code to do it.

Liferay Portal’s wiki is another example of a full-featured collaborative application. It has support for authoring pages in a WYSWYG editor, or more advanced users can use the easy-to-learn standard Wiki Creole syntax. Users can comment on wiki articles, and it keeps a full history of every change that’s been made, allowing users to revert back to any change. It also supports RSS feeds (just about every Liferay application does) so you can subscribe to see new articles as they are posted. Each site can have one or more wikis, and each wiki can have one or more top-level nodes.

One important feature of all the collaborative applications–as well as web content and documents–is the Recycle Bin. If users delete content that needs to be restored later, you don’t have to find it in your backups: it’s in the Recycle Bin.

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Figure 1.7: The Recycle Bin can hold any kind of content.

We could go through all of Liferay Portal’s collaborative applications, but let’s save that for the body of the book. Liferay Portal’s suite of collaborative applications includes a blog (complete with blog aggregation features so you can publish multiple users’ blog entries in one place), a chat application for users who are online at the same time, message boards, a wiki, a knowledge base that you can use to publish a library of technical articles, a polling system you can use to have users vote on certain questions, and personal productivity applications like a calendar and email.

Liferay Portal includes every application you’ll need to enable users to collaborate. Next, we’ll see how you can use Liferay Portal as a social platform.

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