Transitioning from Portlet Preferences to the Configuration API

This tutorial describes how to take an existing portlet developed for Liferay Portal 6.2 or prior, which uses portlet preferences to allow administrators to configure the portlet, and convert it to use the new Configuration API.

For more information on the Configuration API and the recommended ways to develop configurable applications for Liferay Portal CE 7.0, please see the Making your applications configurable tutorial.

Before you start, it’s important to understand the benefits of making this change. That will allow you to decide whether to go ahead with the change or not, since previous configuration mechanisms of Liferay Portal 6.2 and prior still work in Liferay Portal CE 7.0.

The main benefits are:

  • Ability to modify the default portlet preferences through the new System Settings UI. Previously the default configuration of a portlet could only be set by modifying the portlet.xml file, which was not easy to extend.

  • In the future Liferay will support modifying the default values for any portlet using this API for each company or site. If you use the new API you won’t need to make any change to benefit from this.

  • You can now use the PortletPreferences API to allow users to have their own personal preferences for the portlet, which was the original intention of this API.

  • Have full programmatic control of the scope of the configuration (Portlet Instance or Group), instead of leaving it to the liferay-portlet.xml file.

  • It becomes easier to read the configuration of the portlet from any class or JSP just by knowing its name. The configuration is also presented as a typed object which reduces the possibility of error reading a property name or type.

One final thing to note is that using the new Configuration API preserves all existing configurations of the portlet, since it uses the same persistence storage (the PortletPreferences table). That means that you can deploy a new version of the portlet to a running system and the existing portlets that may have been added to its pages and configured will not need to be reconfigured.

If your existing (Liferay Portal 6.2 or prior) application uses portlet preferences and you have decided to convert it to use the new Configuration API, follow these steps to update your application:

  1. Identify the existing preferences of the portlet configuration.

    For example, you could check the configuration.jsp (where you will find DOM elements with the name preferences--XXX--, where XXX is the name of the preference).

  2. Determine the scope of the portlet configuration. The traditional way of specifying it is through liferay-portlet.xml. Look at the elements preferences-company-wide, preferences-unique-per-layout and preferences-owned-by-group to determine the right scope. The following table maps out the scopes:

    liferay-portlet.xml Scope
    preferences-company-wide=true Company
    preferences-owned-by-group=true AND preferences-unique-per-layout=false Group
    preferences-owned-by-group=true AND preferences-unique-per-layout=true Portlet Instance

    Related to this, we make the following recommendations for the scope of the configuration of a portlet:

    • For any portlet that can be added to a page it should be Portlet Instance.
    • For any portlet that is accessible through the product menu and is used to administer the site it should be Group.
  3. Create a Java interface that will represent the configuration, with one method per existing preference.

    By Liferay’s convention, the suggested names for these interfaces are [Portlet Name]PortletInstanceConfiguration for the portlet scoped ones or [Portlet Name]GroupServiceConfiguration for the group scoped ones. However you can choose different conventions.

    This interface will use two annotations (@Meta.OCD and @ExtendedObjectClassDefinition) to declare that it represents a configuration and to specify the desired scope. The id specified in the @Meta.OCD annotation must be the fully qualified class name of the interface.

    For example,

        category = "[category]",
        scope = ExtendedObjectClassDefinition.Scope.GROUP
        id = "[package].[PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration",
    public interface [PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration {
        @Meta.AD(deflt = "", required = false)
        public String displayStyle();
        @Meta.AD(deflt = "0", required = false)
        public long displayStyleGroupId(long defaultDisplayStyleGroupId);
  4. In the code above replace [category] with a category name of your choice. Out of the box Liferay uses: wem, forms, collaboration and foundation. If your portlet fits in any of those go ahead and use them. If you pick any other name it will be added, but you will need to provide a translation as well.

  5. If you want to specify the name of the configuration as it will appear in System Settings (and optionally translate it to several languages) add the attributes name and localization (to specify the location of a resource bundle file) to the @Meta.OCD annotation:

    localization = “content/Language”, name = “[PortletName]” id = “[package].[PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration”, )
  6. Create one class that implements the Configuration Bean Declaration interface to let the Configuration framework know about the Configuration class.

    public class [PortletName]GroupServiceConfigurationBeanDeclaration
            implements ConfigurationBeanDeclaration {
        public class getConfigurationBeanClass() {
            return [[PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration.class;
  7. Change the configuration JSP to retrieve the configuration using the Configuration API. If the scope is “Portlet Instance” the configuration can be retrieved from portletDisplay:

    [PortletName]PortletInstanceConfiguration portletInstanceConfiguration = 

    Once the configuration object is obtained, the individual preferences can now be changed from this:

    String displayStyle = portletPreferences.getValue("displayStyle", defaultValue);

    … to this …

    String displayStyle = v.displayStyle();
  8. Finally it is usually necessary to read the configuration from Java classes or other JSPs. In cases where the portletDisplay is not available, or when the scope is “Group” or “Company”, the PortletProvider class offers methods to obtain the configuration. The best way to access the PortletProvider depends on who is making the invocation:

    Within an OSGi Component a reference to the ConfigurationProvider can be obtained and used as follows:

        @Component(service = Foo)
           public class Foo {
             protected void methodWhichNeedsConfiguration() {
                        [PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration.class, groupId);
                private ConfigurationProvider _configurationProvider;

    Within a service created with Service Builder the code is very similar:

           public class FooServiceImpl {
             protected void methodWhichNeedsConfiguration() {
                        [PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration.class, groupId);
                private ConfigurationProvider _configurationProvider;

    For all other cases it is preferred to get the configuration injected or passed as a parameter. As a last resort it is possible to use ConfigurationProviderUtil to obtain the configuration, although this method might have issues in highly dynamic environments:

            [PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration groupConfiguration 
                  [PortletName]GroupServiceConfiguration.class, groupId);
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