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Application Builder

Hi liferayers!

I spend my days writing Liferay portlets and there are a lot of tasks that are common to almost every portlet I have to do. It is very usual that the customers ask for a portlet that manage something, for example "Enterprise Resources" (like pcs, phones, cars...) or "Schools".

But what do they have in common? You may ask.

Well, the basic portlet has the following parts:

  • Edit/detail view form
  • Search container with all the items and the action menu
  • Search form
  • Advanced search form

After you create all these "screens" you can create, delete, update, search these objetcs... and it's ALWAYS the same. Wouldn't it be great to do this automatically?

I know there's something called OpenXava that aims to achive this, but it's a developer approach. I want a PORTLET in Liferay that creates PORTLETS.

In SugarCRM you have a module builder that do exactly this, you can define the fields of the new object, and you create the forms, so that with a few mouse clicks you have a custom new module ready to use. It creates the database tables too...

You can create a new module (we would call it portlet) in a few steps:

  • You select the fields of your object and their types
  • You say if it's related with any other system object
  • You define the forms (View, edit, search container, search and advanced search) with a drag and drop system
  • You publish it directly into the system

When I first used SugarCRM, the first thing I thougt was: "I wish Liferay had something like this!"

This will reduce the ammount of work hours needed to create a simple portlet and every user could create a custom portlet without developing... wouldn't it be great?!

This is an initial article. I will go on writing about this in the following days

The forum discussion post is this one:

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Threaded Replies Author Date
Hm - I'm not sure whether I like this approach.... Andreas Oberhack November 20, 2009 1:49 AM
Yeah, Andreas. It's true that this may fit... Juan Fernández November 25, 2009 5:21 AM
Exo portal already has a form builder portlet. Lisa Simpson December 3, 2009 1:12 PM
Hi Lisa: it's true that there's already a form... Juan Fernández December 3, 2009 11:32 PM
Hey guys, We are going through core... Jorge Ferrer December 8, 2009 3:58 PM
Jorge, is there any documentation available on... Sebastian M January 3, 2011 12:45 PM

Hm - I'm not sure whether I like this approach.

I think it's a good approach for simple applications with a simple data / object model.

For more complex applications - and liferay's target market is the enterprise market - I would prefer a direction which is already started quite well with the plugins sdk.

Let's fine tune that code, integrate that in all major IDE's, add ui code generation capabilities and have plugins for several ui technologies like JSP / JSF / Flex etc.

But that's only my oppinion having my own requirements in mind.

Like always: may we should start collecting / discussing the requirements first :-))
Posted on 11/20/09 1:49 AM.
Yeah, Andreas. It's true that this may fit basic needs, with "simple data / object model", as you say, but it can be anough for many people that doesn't have to be necessarily developers, but end users.

The main idea behind this is to build a simple (or not that simple) portlet WITHOUT writing a single code line.

It's true that the plugins SDK is much more powerful... and it's not actually incompatible with this idea, isn't it? I mean, this can be a sdk "facade" for non technical users to design their own simple portlets. This can avoid them to run scared when they need something simple and they realize how much work is to develop a simple portlet.

Anyway, it's up to the community to discuss these issues
Posted on 11/25/09 5:21 AM in reply to Andreas Oberhack.
Exo portal already has a form builder portlet.
Posted on 12/3/09 1:12 PM in reply to Juan Fernández.
Hi Lisa:
it's true that there's already a form builder and an application builder, but they are just the first steps in this direction. If we evolve from this point, we will be able to reach a real application builder where every user may, with as less as possible tech knowing, create their own portlets.

I think about creating a school or a veterinary clinic admin portlet in several clicks, I think about creating a contact management system with a few clicks... this can make Liferay a "development" environment of web applications.

Posted on 12/3/09 11:32 PM in reply to Lisa Simpson.
Hey guys,

We are going through core development spring in L.A. right now, and thought that you'd like to know that Ray Augé, one of Liferay's senior engineers has presented how he's been using a rapid application development environment based on the web content capabilities to convert around 60 independent portlets to a few structures and templates. What he's done is very similar to what is being discussed here and we've decided to make some improvements and incorporate it into the roadmap.
Posted on 12/8/09 3:58 PM.
Jorge, is there any documentation available on this approach?
Posted on 1/3/11 12:45 PM in reply to Jorge Ferrer.