Community Edition of Liferay Portal 6.1 Released

A few days ago, the Liferay product and engineering teams announced the release of Liferay Portal 6.1 CE. Last fall, during the Liferay West Coast Symposium, CMS Report was able to get a sneak peak of the features that Liferay Portal 6.1 had to offer. We were impressed then and we're even more impressed now with the changes that have been made since then.

Liferay Portal ships with broad product capabilities and provides more function than you would expect from a traditional portal. Besides having the capability as a web platform, Liferay Portal is also capable of supporting content and document management (including Microsoft office integration). Additional capabilities include:

  • Web Publishing and Shared Workspaces
  • Enterprise Collaboration
  • Social Networking and Mashups
  • Identity Management

Liferay logo and bannerLiferay issues their portal software under two licenses, an open source community edition and an enterprise edition. The Liferay community edition we're talking about in this article is specifically designated as Liferay 6.1 CE GA1.  In addition to the numerous bugs that have been fixed since 6.0 GA4, many new features and improvements have gone into this release.

 The following are some of the highlights of new features and improvements as listed in the Liferay 6.1 CE release announcement:

  • Updated Support Matrix - Liferay's general policy is to update our support matrix for each release, testing Liferay against newer major releases of supporting operating systems, app servers, browsers, and databases (Liferay regularly update the bundled upstream open source libraries to fix bugs or take advantage of new features in the open source they depend on).  For example, Liferay is moving to Tomcat 7.x, MySQL 5.5.x, JBoss AS 7, Geronimo 2.2.1, and others.
  • UI Refinements - Many tasks that used to require a trip to Control Panel (thus losing your UI context) can now be done via the "Manage" menu.  Document Library has gotten a sweet overhaul.  General improvements in snappiness. 
  • Sites - The Sites concept has been introduced, decoupling a set of pages from an associated community or organization.  This is one of the big conceptual changes in 6.1.
  • Setup Wizard - To ease the first-time configuration of a portal (and its associated database), when starting a new instance of Liferay, the optional Setup Wizard will prompt for and configure these items for you.  No more mucking about with portal-ext.properties for those basic configurations everyone wants to do initially.
  • Marketplace Support - Groundwork in the form of app hot deploy and marketplace browsing has been introduced into 6.1, gearing up for the opening of the Marketplace later this year. See this CMS Report article for more information regarding Liferay Marketplace.
  • Mobile Device Enhancements -  For example,  mobile device rules allow you to configure sets of rules and use those rules to alter the behavior of the portal based on the device being used to access Liferay. You can also access and evaluate rules through custom scripts.
  • Social Activity Improvements - Many improvements to the social value system (formerly known as Social Equity). 
  • JSON Web Service Improvements - A lot of work has been done in this area, making it much easier to invoke Liferay's services using REST-like (AtomPub-based) JSON (e.g. through supplied JavaScript libraries, or through standard HTTP requests).  Online documentation is also available (check out http://localhost:8080/api/jsonws on your local install.)
  • Asset Publisher Improvements - The darling of the supplied out-of-box portlets, Asset Publisher can now do things like show and publish content from/to multiple scopes, better linking behavior for assets, and many more.
  • Content Management Goodness - One of Liferay's core strengths is its simple yet powerful Web Content Management System.  There have been many usability and functional improvements to it, including inline drag/drop structure editing, internationalized web content titles, preloading of structures on template creation, and selection of default display pages. 
  • Search Improvements - Lots of performance and accuracy improvements.  Including users in search results. 
  • Unification of the Document Library and Image Gallery - these two apps have historically overlapped each other - that overlap has now been eliminated, by combining the two into a Documents and Media app (with a much fancier UI to boot). 
  • Multiple Repository Mounting - In the new Documents and Media app, you can now mount multiple repositories (e.g. through CMIS) and develop custom connectors to link to existing CMS repositories.  Features that overlap with Liferay are respected (e.g. permissioning, locking, etc).
  • Native support for storing and serving videos and other media types - Liferay now includes preview functionality for rendering PDFs and other common document formats in-browser, eliminating the need for external apps to view.  In addition, audio and video can be captured and played back from within Liferay.
  • Robust content metadata management - New metadata management tools and UIs to easily capture extra metadata related to documents, for efficient searching and categorization of documents. 
  • Establishing contextual relationships between content types - with the Related Assets feature, any asset can be dynamically related to any other asset, for easy cross-referencing. Relations can be mined and analyzed later.
  • Enhanced staging support (including Site Branching, Versioning, and Rollback).  A major overhaul of the staging feature, Liferay allows concurrent editing of sites, with versioning and rollback (undo/redo) of changes on the fly.
  • Dynamic Site and Page Templates - One can now create an entire site based on a site template.  When changes are made to the template, the changes are automatically (and smartly) applied to any derived sites.  Sites can later be unlinked if needed, allowing independent forking.
  • User Customizable Pages - Allows your users to customize certain areas of a site's pages, while keeping other areas fixed.
  • Unified User Management - Liferay has always had the ability to be your central directory of users. The management of said users has not always been easy.  In Liferay 6.1, users and their associated organizations can be viewed hierarchically, allowing easy navigation into your user directory.
  • OpenSocial 1.1 Support - this includes the new pub/sub feature from OpenSocial.
  • Enhancements for Liferay IDE - It's never been easier to develop for the Liferay Platform, using the latest features of Liferay 6.1 and the Liferay IDE.  Liferay 6.1 now includes a remote server deployment plugin, allowing development against a remote instance of Liferay.
  • More social networking and collaboration features  - anonymous comments that are later associated with you when you sign up, follow support, anonymous ratings, related assets, wiki images, setting threads as questions by default, and more.
  • Improvements in scalability, auditing management and monitoring, security, and quality.

You can find the 6.1 release on the usual Liferay downloads page.