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Since blogs are a mainstay on the web, bloggers and blog administrators expect feature-rich environments for publishing blogs. They want both a powerful editor and a pleasurable authoring experience. Blog admins demand an intuitive environment that facilitates configuring blog instances and managing blog entries efficiently. Liferay Portal’s Blogs meets these demands.

Its editor delivers features you’d expect in an elegant in-context manner. It has a complete set of WYSIWYG controls that appear where and when you need them. You can stay in this easy-to-use mode or switch to source mode to edit your content’s HTML code. In source mode, you can work with light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background. To cap things off, you can open the dual screen HTML editor to see your code rendered in real time. You’ll have a satisfying experience creating awesome blog posts.

Lastly, Blogs empowers you to show off your blogs using powerful display apps. You can leverage Liferay Portal’s built-in display templates or create your own, to present blogs the way you like them. And you can now add a beautiful cover image to each of your blog entries, like album covers for your posts. Let’s face it–you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you’re more likely to draw readers to your blog entry by decorating it with an enticing cover image!

By now you’re probably chomping at the bit to start blogging, right? Let’s get started.

Adding Blog Entries

Each site comes with a built-in blog instance, so let’s explore adding an entry to your site’s blog. In Site Administration, the Blogs app provides the best place to draft blogs. Click the Menu icon (icon-menu.png) to open the product menu. Then navigate to Sites[Site Name]ContentBlogs. The Entries screen appears, listing the site’s blog entries.

Click the Add icon (icon-add.png) to create a new blog entry.

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Figure 1: This screenshot highlights the blog entry editor’s controls for formatting text, justifying images, and editing tables.

The screen presents fields to set a cover image, title, and subtitle, and an area for entering content. You may be asking yourself, “Where are the content editor’s controls?” The editor gives you a seamless writing experience, displaying controls when you need them and hiding them from view when you don’t need them. This keeps your canvas uncluttered, so you can focus on writing. As you create content, context-specific controls appear.

Go ahead and enter text in the Content area. If you highlight text, controls appear (In Figure 1, notice the controls above the highlighted word hiking). These controls let you style the text or convert it to a link or a tweet to share your blog post on Twitter. You can also use keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+b for bold, Ctrl+i for italics, and Ctrl+u for underline. You can even mention other users by entering the “@” character followed by the user’s name.

Whenever you park your cursor in the content area, the Add icon (+) appears. If you click on it, it shows controls for inserting an image, table, or horizontal line (icon-content-insert-controls.png). To insert an image, click the icon that depicts the mountain silhouette. The image file selector screen appears. It lets you choose an existing image or upload a new one. You can also drag-and-drop image files into the content area. If you like an image, but want to modify it a bit, use the Image Editor. Select an existing image from the Documents and Media repository and click the pencil icon (icon-edit-pencil.png) in the bottom right corner of the preview window, to open the Image Editor. Any edits you make are automatically applied to a copy of the image.

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Figure 2: You can use the Image Editor to customize your Blog’s photos.

After you add an image to the blog entry, clicking the image brings up controls for justifying it to the right or left side of the article. In Figure 1, notice the image justification controls above the moon image.

You can also insert a table with as many rows and columns as you like. If you click inside the table, table editing controls appear (see the table in Figure 1). They let you designate the first row and/or column as table headers. The controls also enable you to add rows, columns, and cells.

Now you’re familiar with the editor’s regular mode. If you’d rather work with the content’s HTML code, you can. To switch the editor to source view, select the Source icon (</>). Note that a Roller icon (icon-roller.png) for regular mode appears, giving you the option to switch back to regular view. To satisfy your eyes, source view’s moon icon and sun icon let you switch between a dark theme and a light theme.

You can even work in a dual pane view that shows your HTML code on the left and a preview pane on the right. To open this view, click the Enlarge icon (icon-enlarge.png). You can arrange the HTML and preview panes horizontally or vertically. You can also hide the preview pane, so the HTML editor takes up the entire window space. No matter how you want to use the HTML editor, it can really help you stay “in the zone” as you create awesome blog entries.

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Figure 3: The enlarged source editor helps you minimize screen clutter and render changes in real time.

Every 25 seconds, the entry you’re editing is automatically saved as a draft, so a browser crash or network interruption won’t cause you to lose your entry. You can exit the enlarged editor by clicking Done (which saves your content) or clicking Cancel to abandon any changes since the last auto-save. From the normal-sized source view, you can click the Roller icon (icon-roller.png) to switch back to the WYSIWYG editor.

You’ve learned all the ins and outs of the content editor. Next, you’ll learn how to specify your blog entry’s other characteristics.

The edit screen’s first input field–Drag & Drop to Upload–lets you add a cover image (optional) for your entry. This might be an image that represents your entry’s purpose and is designed to attract readers. An Asset Publisher shows a blog entry’s cover image, by default, as part of the blog entry’s abstract. You can drag and drop onto this field any image you like. As an alternative to dragging and dropping an image, you can click the Select File button to use the image selector to choose an existing image attached to the blog, an image file from Documents and Media, or an image outside the Liferay Portal instance. You can browse to an image file and upload it. If you select an image from Documents and Media, you have the option to use the Image Editor to customize and edit the image for your cover. Once you’ve selected the image from Documents and Media, you can access the Image Editor by clicking the pencil icon (icon-edit-pencil.png) in the bottom right corner of the preview window. Any edits you make are automatically applied to a copy of the image, which you can then use as your cover photo.

After you’ve uploaded the image, it displays in the image pane. To center image content, click on the image and drag it into place with your mouse. Then click on the checkmark icon to save the image placement. You can even add a caption. And if you want to select a different image, you can click the Change icon (icon-change.png) to use a different image. Lastly, clicking the trash can icon removes the image from the blog entry.

Below the Content area are several panels for configuring your blog entry.

The Categorization panel’s options allow you to associate tags and/or categories to your blog entry. Doing this improves search results for blog entries, and you get more navigation options for your users. For example, you can add the Tags Navigation application to another column on your blogs page, which lets users browse blog entries by tag.

Below this is the Related Assets panel. If there’s some other content in the Liferay Portal instance that’s related to your entry, you can choose it here. For example, you might want to write a blog entry talking about a discussion that happened on the forums. To link those two assets together, select the forum thread under Related Assets.

The Configuration panel is next. Since Liferay DXP Fix Pack 13 and Liferay Portal CE GA4, you can specify a friendly URL for the blog entry. The default selection of Automatic generates the URL for you based on the blog entry’s title. The generated URL appears in the text box shown below the Blog Entry URL heading. Alternatively, you can select the Custom option to write your own URL. Once published, you can view the blog entry by navigating to the friendly URL. What if you decide to change the blog entry’s URL later on? No worries. The original link will redirect to the new friendly URL.

You can also specify an abstract for the blog entry within the Configuration panel. Choose a 400 character text-only abstract or a custom abstract containing a thumbnail image and a manually written description. Below the abstract section, you can set a particular Display Date for the entry.

Lastly for your blog entry’s configuration, you can allow pingbacks. Pingbacks are XML-RPC requests that are automatically sent when you link to another site. If you link to another site in your blog entry, Liferay Portal sends a pingback to the other site to notify that site that you linked to it. Similarly, if someone links to your blog entry, Liferay can receive a pingback from that person’s site and record the link.

The Permissions panel is last. It lets you restrict viewing the blog entry to the owner only or site members (default), or open viewing to site guests. Clicking on the More Options link, brings up a permissions table to grant permissions to or revoke permissions from site guests and site members, with regards to the blog entry.

The blog entry permissions enable a role to perform the following actions:

Update: Edit and modify the blog entry.

Permissions: View and modify the blog entry’s permissions.

Delete: Move the blog entry to the Recycle Bin.

View: View the blog entry.

Update Discussion: Edit another user’s comment on the blog entry.

Delete Discussion: Delete any comments on the blog entry.

Add Discussion: Comment on the blog entry.

Once you’ve finished your blog entry, click Publish. Your blog entry appears with the site’s other blog entries.

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Figure 4: Blogs in Site Administration is the perfect place to create and manage blog entries. It has several options for modifying, displaying, filtering, and finding entries.

Congratulations on creating your blog entry! Before displaying it on your site’s pages, you may want to learn how to manage blog entries.

Managing Blog Entries

The Blogs application in Site Adminstration helps bloggers and blog administrators manage blog entries. Search finds entries that match the keywords you enter. The Order by selector enables you to organize entries by Title or Display Date, in ascending or descending order. Blog entries are displayed using icons, by default. You can select either icon (icon-icon-style.png), descriptive (icon-descriptive-style.png), or list (icon-list-style.png) display style. The icon style shows large cover images, descriptive style displays single cell rows that show the author’s image and entry information, and list style displays the entries using several columns for each entry. Working with existing blog entries has never been easier!

You can manage entries individually or in a batch. Each entry has an Actions icon (icon-actions.png) to edit the entry, configure its permissions, or move it to the Recycle Bin. You can select the All checkbox to select all entries or select an entry’s individual check box, and click the trash icon to move them into the Recycle Bin. Under the Images tab you can view individual images and delete them individually or in a batch.

The Options icon (icon-options.png) at the top of Blogs lets you configure permissions and notifications, or import/export the blog. Here are the blog instance Configuration options:

Email From: defines the From field in the email messages that users receive from Blogs.

Entry Added Email: defines a subject and body for the emails sent when a new blog entry has been added.

Entry Updated Email: defines a subject and body for the emails sent when a new blog entry has been updated.

RSS: lets you enable RSS subscription and choose how blogs are displayed to RSS readers.

  • Maximum Items to Display: choose the total number of RSS feeds entries to display on the initial page. You can choose up to one hundred to be displayed.

  • Display Style: choose between Full Content, Abstract, and Title. These options work just like the ones above for blog entries.

  • Format: choose which format you want to deliver your blogs: Atom 1.0, RSS 1.0, or RSS 2.0.

You’ve learned how to create blog entries and manage them. It’s time to consider blog security. For example, who is allowed to view the different blog instances and who is allowed to add blog entries?

If you have a personal blog, the default permissions should work well for you. If you have a shared blog, you may want to adjust its permissions. The default settings make it so only the owner of the site where the application was added can add entries. This, of course, is great if the Blogs app has been added to a user’s personal pages, but doesn’t work so well for a shared multi-author blog. But don’t worry: it’s easy to grant blogging permissions to users.

First, create a role for your bloggers and add them to the role. Next, in Blogs, click OptionsEntries Permissions. A list of both instance and site roles is displayed, and currently only the owner is checked for the Add Entry permission. Mark any other role or team that should be able to add blog entries and then click Save. Once you’ve done this, users in the roles or teams that you selected are able to post to the shared blog. You can also grant roles and teams the ability to subscribe to blog updates.

From within the Control Panel, you can configure all the permissions for Blogs. Permissions for the Blogs and Blogs Aggregator applications are covered next.

You’ve now created a blog entry and learned how to manage blog entries and permissions. Next, you’ll learn how to use the Blogs and Blogs Aggregator applications to display blog entries the way you want them.

Displaying Blogs

You can add the Blogs application a page from the Add menu. Since Blogs supports scopes, you can use it to create a multi-author blog to build a site like http://slashdot.org/ or to create multiple personal blogs to build a site like http://blogger.com. What’s the difference? Adding the Blogs app to a site page creates a shared blog for members of the site. Adding the app to a user’s personal site (dashboard) creates a blog just for that user. Blogs works the same way in both cases. And of course, you can scope a blog to a page to produce a blog instance for just that page.

Add the Blogs application to one of your site’s pages. It lists abstracts of the site’s recently published blog entries. Notice that each entry’s cover image shows prominently in the listing. The figure below shows a blog entry abstract.

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Figure 5: Here’s a blog entry in abstract format.

You can see that in the summary view, you don’t see the trackback/pingback link, and you only see the number of comments that have been added. If you click the entry’s title, you’ll see the whole article, all the comments in a threaded view, and the trackback/pingback link which others can use to link back to your blog entry.

The full view of the blog entry also contains links to share blog entries on social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. This gives your readers an easy way to share blog entries with friends, potentially driving further traffic to your site.

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Figure 6: Users can view your blog entry in all its glory. They can rate it, comment on it, and share it with other people.

By default, the Blogs application displays the abstract and image of the latest entries. There are several display options that let you configure the listing to look the way you want. To configure the application, click the Options icon in the app’s title bar and select Configuration. The Display Settings are in the Setup tab. To choose the right settings, you should think about the best way to display your entries as well as how you want users to interact with bloggers.

Here are the Display Settings:

Maximum Items to Display: choose the total number of blog entries to display on the initial page. You can select up to 75 to display at once.

Display Template: choose between Abstract, Full Content, Title, or Basic. Setting this to Abstract shows the entry’s cover image and first four hundred characters of text. Users can click on the entry’s title to see its full content. You can click Manage Display Templates for Liferay to select an existing Blogs application display template (ADT) or to create your own. To learn how to customize your own display templates with Application Display Templates visit the Using Application Display Templates section of this guide.

Enable Flags: flag content as inappropriate and send an email to the administrators.

Enable Related Assets: select related content from other applications to pull into their blog entry for readers to view.

Enable Ratings: lets readers rate your blog entries from one to five stars.

Enable Comments: lets readers comment on your blog entries.

Enable Comment Ratings: lets readers rate the comments which are posted to your blog entries.

Enable Social Bookmarks: lets users tweet, Facebook like, or +1 (Google+) blog posts. You can edit which social bookmarks are available in the Social Bookmarks section of the Configuration menu.

Display Style: select a menu, simple, vertical, or horizontal display style for your blog posts.

Display Position: choose a top or bottom position for your blog posts.

Social Bookmarks: choose social bookmarks to enable for blog posts, which includes Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Here are descriptions for the other Blogs Configuration tabs:

Permissions: shows Liferay Portal’s permissions dialog for the Blogs application.

Communication: lists public render parameters the application publishes to other applications on the page. Other applications can read these and take actions based on them. For each shared parameter, you can specify whether to allow communication using the parameter and select which incoming parameter can populate it.

Sharing: lets you embed the application instance as a widget on on any website, Facebook, or Netvibes, or as an OpenSocial Gadget.

Scope: lets you specify the blog instance the application displays: the current site’s blog (default), global blog, or page blog. If the page doesn’t already have a blog instance, you can select scope option [Page Name] (Create New) to create a page-scoped blog instance for the Blogs application to display.

Liferay Portal’s Blogs application excels at aggregating information from multiple places. The Blogs Aggregator application lets you “bubble up” blog entries from multiple users and highlight them on your site. Let’s look next at how that works.

Aggregating Blogs

You can set up a whole web site devoted just to blogging if you wish. The Blogs Aggregator lets you publish entries from multiple bloggers on one page, giving further visibility to blog entries. You can add it to a page from the Collaboration category in the Add (icon-add-app.png) → Applications menu.

If you click Configuration from the Options icon (icon-app-options.png) in the app’s title bar, the Blogs Aggregator’s configuration page appears. From here, you can set its options.

Selection Method: select Users or Scope here. If you select Users, the Blogs Aggregator aggregates the entries of every blogger on your system. If you want to refine the aggregation, you can select an organization by which to filter the users. If you select Scope, the Blogs Aggregator contains only entries of users who are in the current scope. This limits the entries to members of the site where the Blogs Aggregator resides.

Organization: select which organization’s blogs you want to aggregate.

Display Style: select from several different styles for displaying blog entries: Body and Image, Body, Abstract, Abstract without Title, Quote, Quote without Title, and Title.

Maximum Items to Display: select the maximum number of entries the app displays.

Enable RSS Subscription: creates an RSS feed out of the aggregated entries. This lets users subscribe to an aggregate feed of all your bloggers. Below this checkbox, you can configure how you want the RSS Feed displayed:

  • Maximum Items to Display: select maximum number of RSS items to display.

  • Display Style: select from several different styles for displaying RSS feeds: Abstract, Full Content, and Title.

  • Format: select which web feed language to use for your feed, which includes Atom 1.0, RSS 1.0, or RSS 2.0.

Show Tags: for each entry, displays all the tags associated with the blogs.

At the top of the Configuration screen, there’s an option called Archive/Restore Setup. It lets you store your current Setup configuration or apply an existing archived Setup. This is especially helpful when you have multiple configurations you like to use in Blogs Aggregator instances.

Here are descriptions for the other Blogs Aggregator’s Configuration screens:

Permissions: shows Liferay Portal’s permissions dialog.

Communication: lists public render parameters the application publishes to other applications on the page. Other applications can read these and take actions based on them. For each shared parameter, you can specify whether to allow communication using the parameter and select which incoming parameter can populate it.

Sharing: lets you embed the application instance as a widget on on any website, Facebook, or Netvibes, or as an OpenSocial Gadget.

Scope: lets you specify the blog instance the application displays: the current site’s blog (default), global blog, or the page’s. If the page doesn’t already have a blog instance, you can select scope option [Page Name] (Create New) to create a page-scoped blog instance and set the Blogs app to display it.

When you’ve finished setting the options, click Save. Then close the dialog box. You’ll notice the Blogs Aggregator looks very much like the Blogs application, except that it shows entries from multiple blogs.

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Figure 7: The Blogs Aggregator lets you display blog entries authored by multiple authors from different sites.

Last up is showing your Liferay Portal instance’s recent bloggers.

Highlighting Recent Bloggers

A great way to applaud bloggers is to display their names using the Recent Bloggers app. It lists the names of users who’ve most recently posted blog entries. It shows their name, profile picture, and number of posts. It’s a great way to show off who’s who on your site. You can add the Recent Bloggers app to a page from the Collaboration category in the Add (icon-add-app.png) → Applications menu.

If you click Configuration from the Options icon (icon-app-options.png) in the app’s title bar, the Recent Blogger’s configuration page appears. From here, you can set its options.

Selection Method: select Users or Scope here. If you select Users, the Recent Bloggers aggregates all the users on your system. If you want to refine the aggregation, you can select an organization by which to filter the users. If you select Scope, the app will show only users who are in the current scope. This limits the users shown to the site where the resides resides.

Organization: select which organization’s users you want to show.

Display Style: select from several different styles for displaying users: User Name and Image and User.

Maximum Items to Display: select the maximum number of users the app displays.

Sharing: lets you embed the application instance as a widget on on any website, Facebook, or Netvibes, or as an OpenSocial Gadget.

Scope: lets you specify the blog instance the application displays: the current site’s blog (default), global blog, or the page’s. If the page doesn’t already have a blog instance, you can select scope option [Page Name] (Create New) to create a page-scoped blog instance and set the Blogs app to display it.

When you’re finished setting the options, click Save. Then close the dialog box.

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Figure 8: You can show off your site or organization’s most recent bloggers from the Recent Bloggers app.

Add the Recent Bloggers app to a page on your site to draw attention to the users who are contributing helpful blogs on your site.

Summary

Throughout this section, you’ve learned how to create blog posts in a powerful no-nonsense editor, manage blog instances and blog entries, and display blogs the way you like them using the the Blogs and Blogs Aggregator applications. Now you can enjoy the benefits of participating in the world of blogging.

Blogs are terrific for sharing information on a topic, posting important announcements, and expressing yourself. And if comments are enabled, users can have short exchanges about your blog entry. The best place to discuss things or ask questions, however, is in a forum. Next, you’ll learn how to create forums using Message Boards.

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