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Sending Alerts and Announcements

Suppose you’re running a Liferay instance with lots of users. Maybe you have thousands or tens of thousands of users (or more!). Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy way to periodically communicate important information to them? And wouldn’t it be even nicer to have easy ways to periodically send information to specific groups of users? For example, maybe you’d like to send a reminder about a new policy to all of your Liferay instance’s site administrators. Or maybe you’d like to send a reminder to all the members of a certain site to submit an answer to this week’s poll question. Liferay provides two apps that meet this need: the Alerts app and the Announcements app.

alerts-app.png

Figure 1: The Alerts app provides administrators with an easy way to communicate important information to appropriate groups of users.

The Alerts and Announcements apps let you broadcast important information to different groups of users. Each alert or announcement can be created in a specific scope so that you can manage which announcements are sent to which users. Furthermore, each user can configure how they’d like to receive announcements: click on [User Name]My AccountAccount Settings from the Menu and then on Announcements in the Miscellaneous category. This brings up a menu for customizing the delivery options for alerts and announcements. You can select a different configuration for each type of alert or announcement: General, News, or Test. For each type, you can enable delivery by email and SMS (text message). Note that the Website delivery option is checked and grayed out for each alert type. This means that each alert and announcement is always viewable in its respective app on a site.

announcements-delivery.png

Figure 2: Each user can choose how they receive alerts and announcements.

You can also create roles in Liferay for users to make general announcements. For instance, if you’d like an employee in your site to have strict control over what is announced, you can assign them to an Announcements role. To create a simple Announcements role, navigate to Control PanelUsersRoles, click the Add button (icon-add.png), and select Regular Role. Name your role Announcements, give it a title and description, and click Save. Then click the Actions button (icon-actions.png) next to your new role and select Define Permissions. For this particular role, you’ll need to grant two permissions:

  • Control PanelGeneral PermissionsAdd General Announcements
  • Site AdministrationApplicationsAnnouncementsAdd Entry

Click Save after selecting each permission. Now you have a simple Announcements role that can add an entry to the Announcements app and add general announcements to your site! Of course, you can add additional permissions to this role if you prefer.

announcements-app.png

Figure 3: The Announcements app displays a list of announcements to regular users. It also provides administrators with an interface for managing and adding entries.

Now you’ll learn how to create announcements in the Announcements app. When you view the Announcements app as an administrator, you’ll see three tabs: New, Previous, and Manage Entries. The New tab displays non-expired announcements, and announcements you haven’t marked as read. Once an announcement expires or you mark it as read, it moves to the Previous tab. Administrators can use the Manage Entries tab to create new announcements. Non-administrators only see the New and Previous tabs. To add a new announcement, click Manage Entries and then select a Distribution Scope. The distribution scope determines the group of users to which your announcement is sent. Announcements created in the General distribution scope are sent to everyone. If the distribution scope is set a particular site or role, only members of that site or role receive the announcements.

Once you’ve selected a distribution scope, you’ll see a list of that scope’s existing announcements. Click an announcement’s Actions button to edit or delete it. Click Add Entry to create a new announcement. In addition to the Distribution Scope, you can provide the following information:

Title: The announcement’s title. When the app displays the announcement, the full title always appears in bold. If you enter a URL in the URL field, the title serves as a link to the specified site.

URL: The URL is optional. If entered, it must be valid and begin with *http://* or *https://*. For example, an announcement about a news story could include a link to the news article.

Content: The announcement’s body text. You can use the familiar CK editor to write this. Use the Source button to switch between the editor and HTML views.

Type: The announcement’s type. This can be General, News, or Test. As mentioned earlier, each user can specify a different delivery mechanism for each type of announcement. For example, a user could choose to receive General announcements via email and text, News announcements via email only, and no special delivery mechanism for Test announcements. Each user can customize their delivery options by navigating to [User Name]My AccountAccount Settings from the Menu, and then selecting Announcements in the Miscellaneous category.

Priority: The announcement’s priority. This can be Normal or Important.

Display Date: The announcement’s display date. This determines when the announcement is sent to users and appears in the Announcements app. By default, the Display Immediately box is checked. This sets the display date equal to the creation date. Uncheck this box to enter a custom display date. For example, administrators can create announcements for display on a later date. This date can be days, weeks, months, or years in the future. Once the Display Immediately box is unchecked, clicking the Display Date field opens the date-picker widget.

Expiration Date: The date and time the announcement expires. Once an announcement expires, the Announcements app displays it in the Previous tab. Clicking the Expiration Date field opens the date-picker widget.

The Alerts app works the same way as the Announcements app. Alerts is a separate app because it’s designed to be used only for high priority messages or those that require users to take some action. The Alerts app only displays alerts, and the Announcements app only displays announcements. To draw attention to its alerts, the Alerts app displays a red Important tag next to each. To separate important alerts from more mundane announcements, site administrators can place the Alerts and Announcements apps on different pages.

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