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Using Liferay Sync on Your Desktop

Liferay Sync synchronizes files between your Liferay Portal sites and desktop devices. It lets you work with your files without using a browser. The Sync clients also ensure that the files are updated with the latest changes made by other users. To use Liferay Sync in your desktop environment, you must install the Sync desktop client. It’s currently available for Windows and Mac OS. The Sync client stores files locally so that they’re always available, even when you’re offline. Files are automatically synchronized upon your client’s reconnection to your Liferay Portal instance.

On your desktop devices, Liferay Sync creates a new folder structure that it uses to synchronize files. You can treat the files the same as you do any ordinary file. Credentials, Sync folder location, and other options are configured in the client. Also, native desktop notification events inform you of what Sync is doing. The native menu and task bar integration keep Sync controls within easy reach.

This guide walks you through setting up and using the Liferay Sync client on your desktop. Before proceeding, check with your Liferay Portal instance or site administrator to ensure that Sync is enabled for your sites. You then need to install the Sync client on your desktop device. The next section walks you through installing the client.

Installing the Desktop Liferay Sync Client

You can download the desktop client from the Liferay Sync downloads page. Note that you’ll need a Liferay account for this. Once you’ve downloaded the appropriate desktop client for your operating system, installing Liferay Sync on Windows or Mac OS is straightforward.

To install the Liferay Sync client on Windows, you must have administrator privileges. Upon launching the Windows application installer, you’re prompted to choose an install location. Select an appropriate location and click Install. Sync automatically starts after the installation finishes. The first time Sync runs, you need to configure it to connect and sync with your Liferay Portal instance. The configuration steps are shown below, after the Mac installation instructions.

The Liferay Sync client for Mac is packaged in a DMG file. Double-clicking on the DMG file mounts it as a disk image and opens a window showing the image’s contents. To install Sync, drag the Liferay Sync icon to your Applications folder. Once it’s installed, run it from the Applications folder. If you’re running Mac OS X 10.9 or lower, you’re prompted for your machine’s administrator credentials to install the Finder icon/context menu tool. This prompt only appears when installing or upgrading the tool.


Figure 1: Drag the Liferay Sync icon to the Applications folder.

Next, you’ll configure the Sync client.

Configuring the Liferay Sync Desktop Client

Now that you’ve installed Sync, you’re ready to configure it! The configuration steps for Sync on Windows and Mac are identical.

  1. Open Sync and enter your Liferay Portal instance’s address along with your account credentials. Click Sign In when you’re finished.


    Figure 2: The first time you run Liferay Sync, you need to tell it how to communicate with your Liferay Portal server.

    When connecting to a server via HTTPS, an error appears if the certificate can’t be verified. Choosing Proceed Anyway bypasses verification and leaves the connection open to compromise. Liferay Sync attempts to read the certificates specified in the Java Control Panel (see section 20.4.5). If Java isn’t installed, you can also put your certificates in [user.home]/.liferay-sync-3/certificates. Liferay Sync will trust all certificates in this folder.


    Figure 3: When connecting over HTTPS, Liferay Sync produces an error if it can’t verify the security certificate. Choosing Proceed Anyway bypasses verification and leaves the connection open to compromise.

  2. Select the sites you want to sync with. You can search for a site in the Search bar above the site list. If you want to sync all the subfolders of your selected sites, click Proceed and move on to the next step.


    To sync only specific folders in a site, first click the site’s gear icon. In the window that appears, all folders are selected by default. Unselect the folders you don’t want to sync with. Unselecting a subfolder causes the parent folder’s checkbox to show a minus sign, indicating that you haven’t selected all of the parent folder’s subfolders. To sync only the documents at the top of a folder’s hierarchy (no subfolders), unselect all of that folder’s subfolders. You can also do this by clicking the folder’s checkbox until the minus sign appears. Click Select when you’re finished with your selections, and then click Proceed to move on to the next step.


    Figure 5: Choose the site’s subfolders that you want to sync with. The checkbox with the minus sign indicates that not all of the registration folder’s subfolders are selected.

  3. Specify the local folder your Liferay Portal instance will sync with. This folder will be used exclusively for Sync: Sync creates it and it must not conflict with any existing local folder. The Sync folder’s default name is the instance’s host name, and its default location is the user’s documents folder. For example, since the instance in the following screenshots runs locally at the address http://localhost:8080/, Sync creates a Sync folder named localhost in the user’s documents folder. You can, of course, specify any unique name and location for the Sync folder. Click Start Syncing to begin syncing files.


    Figure 6: Specify your local Sync folder’s name and location.

  4. Celebrate! You’ve successfully set up Liferay Sync! Sync congratulates you on setting it up and begins to sync files from the sites you selected to your local Sync folder. Note, completing the initial synchronization may take a significant amount of time, depending on the amount of data being transferred. You can safely close the window as syncing continues in the background. To view the local Sync folder, click Open Folder. To open Sync’s preferences, click the small gray text advanced setup near the top-right.


    Figure 7: Congratulations, you’ve successfully set up Liferay Sync!

Next, you’ll learn how to use the Liferay Sync desktop client.

Using the Liferay Sync Desktop Client

When Liferay Sync is running its icon appears in your task bar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac). Clicking this icon opens a menu that lets you work with and manage Liferay Sync.


Figure 8: The Liferay Sync menu in the Windows task bar and Mac menu bar gives you quick access to Sync.

The top of this menu shows your Sync status. If all your selected sites are synced, then your status is Synced.

Below your Sync status, the menu lists three shortcuts for accessing your Liferay Portal instance’s files:

  • Open Sync Folder: Select a site to open its local Sync folder.
  • View Website: Select a site to view the page in Liferay Portal that contains its Documents and Media app.
  • Recent Files: Lists recently created and modified files in the repositories you can access.

Note that if you sync with two or more Liferay Portal instances, Sync shows each at the top of the menu instead of your Sync status. Mouse over each instance to reveal a submenu with that instance’s Sync status and file shortcuts.


Figure 9: When you sync with more than one Liferay Portal instance, Sync shows submenus for each.

Lastly, regardless of how many Liferay Portal instances you sync with, the menu lists the following three options:

  • Preferences: Open Sync’s preferences.
  • Help: Open Sync’s documentation.
  • Quit: Shut down Sync on your machine.

Next, you’ll learn how to use Sync’s preferences to control how Sync functions on your machine.

Using Sync Preferences

You can use Sync’s preferences to add/remove Liferay Portal instances to sync with, edit connection settings, and control Sync’s basic behavior. Open Sync’s preferences by clicking the Sync icon in the task bar (Windows) or menu bar (Mac OS) and selecting Preferences. A preference screen for your instance accounts displays. This is the Accounts tab in Preferences.


Figure 10: The Preferences menu’s Accounts tab lets you manage syncing with sites per account.

The Accounts tab contains the following:

  • Accounts: the instance accounts you sync with. When you select an account, the sites you have permission to sync with are shown on the right under Syncing Sites. You can use the plus, minus, and pencil icons at the bottom of the account list to add, delete, or edit an account, respectively. You should use caution when deleting an account from your Sync client, as doing so also deletes any local files and folders for that account. Adding an account takes you through the same set of steps you used to set up the Sync client. Click here for instructions on this.

  • Syncing Sites: the sites you have permission to sync with for the selected account. The sites you currently sync with are shown under Selected Sites. Other sites available for syncing are shown under Unselected Sites. To change the sites you sync with, click the Manage Sites button. The window that appears lets you select and/or unselect sites to sync with. This window is identical to the one that appeared when you first configured the client. Click here and see step two for instructions on using it. Use caution when de-selecting sites. De-selecting a site deletes its folder on your machine.

  • Location: the selected account’s local Sync folder location. Click the Change button to change this folder’s location.

The Preferences menu’s General tab contains settings for the Sync client’s general behavior. It lists the following options:

  • Launch Liferay Sync on startup: starts Sync automatically each time your machine starts.

  • Show desktop notifications: shows a small notification in the corner of your screen when a synced file changes.

  • Automatically check for updates: automatically check for new client versions. You can click the Check Now button to check for updates manually.


Figure 11: The Preferences menu’s General tab contains settings for Sync’s general behavior.

Lastly, the Preferences menu’s Network tab lets you control how Sync transfers data with your Liferay Portal instances. It contains the following options:

  • Download Rate: To limit the rate at which Sync downloads data, select Limit to and then specify the rate.

  • Upload Rate: To limit the rate at which Sync uploads data, select Limit to and then specify the rate.

  • Enable LAN Syncing: Whether to download updates from other desktop clients on the same local network before downloading from the server. This can help reduce server load and increase data transfer speeds. Note that LAN syncing only works when enabled in the Liferay Portal instance by the administrator, and in other clients.


Figure 12: The Preferences menu’s Network tab contains settings for Sync’s data transfer behavior.

Note that your Liferay Portal instance’s administrator can also limit the download/upload rate from the Liferay Portal instance. In this case, the Liferay Portal instance’s settings take precedent. For example, if you set a 5.0 MB/s download rate in the client but the Liferay Portal instance’s download limit is 2.0 MB/s, the latter takes precedence. Also, the client’s rate applies across all its accounts. For example, if the client connects to three accounts and its download rate is 5.0 MB/s, then the sum of the download rate for all three accounts never exceeds 5.0 MB/s.

Now that you have a handle on configuring Sync, it’s time to see how it works with the files in your Sync folder.

Using Your Local Sync Folder

Once you configure and run Sync, Sync automatically uploads to your Liferay Portal instance any files you add or modify in your Sync folder. Sync also downloads to your Sync folder any file changes by other users. If you delete a file in your Sync folder, Sync also deletes it from the instance and other clients. You should therefore use extreme caution when deleting files in your Sync folder. If you accidentally delete a file though, not all is lost! The file can still be recovered from the instance’s Recycle Bin, which is enabled by default. Note, if the instance or site administrator has disabled the Recycle Bin, recovering deleted files is impossible.

You can run through the following exercise to familiarize yourself with how to create, edit, download, and upload files with Sync. First, open your Sync folder in your file manager and create a new file called README.txt. Enter the word test in this file. Next, make sure you can access this file in your Liferay Portal site. Go to the site you want to sync with and navigate to its Documents and Media app. It lists your README.txt file.

Download the README.txt file to a convenient location on your machine. Open the file and check that it still says test. Now open the README.txt file in your Sync folder and edit it so that it says second test. Once the changes are synced, go back to your browser and refresh the page with your Documents and Media app. Click on the README.txt file’s name, look at the file information displayed, and check that the file’s version number has been incremented.


Figure 13: Updating a file through Liferay Sync increments the file’s version number. You can view a file’s version number through the web interface.

If you download and open the README.txt file again, it now says second test. Your edit was uploaded to the site! You can be confident that this edit was also downloaded by all other Sync clients connected to your site.

Now delete the README.txt file from your local Sync folder. When the changes finish syncing, go back to your browser and refresh the page containing your Documents and Media app. The file is gone! The file is also deleted from the local Sync folders of all other Sync clients connected to the site. Remember this very important rule: deleting files in your local Sync folder deletes them everywhere! Next, you’ll learn how to use the Sync client for your mobile device.

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