The 6.2 release is almost out and I want to use this opportunity to talk about some of the improvements we have done to the dockbar. For those newer to Liferay, the Dockbar is the nick name for the bar that appears at the top of the screen and provides personal and administration options to users. In 6.1, this bar looked like this:
Although, of course it is possible to customize it. For example, here at liferay.com it currently looks like this within my blog:
In some other portals I've seen people just remove the dockbar except for for administrators. While this is something easy to do from the theme, I always advice people to use it as a last resort. The reason is that Liferay has a very flexible permission system and when a user has some management permissions for the current site or page the dockbar is where those editing options will appear. Liferay has some advanced logic to determine what options to show to each user, but you probably won't want to replicate that logic in your theme to determine when to show the dockbar and when not to.
For 6.2 we wanted to improve the Look & Feel of the dockbar as well as its usability. But we also wanted to make it less intrusive, easier to customize. Among other reasons we wanted to reduce the situations in which there was a need to remove the dockbar altogether.
After doing the proper analysis and quite a few discussions between Nate, Juan Hidalgo, Ed Chung and myself made the most visible decission: In 6.1 the dockbar is a full horizontal bar, that goes from left to right. While this is not so bad for intranet-like environments, it is often not desired in public sites. Furthermore, for regular users who only saw his name in the par it was a significant waste of space. We decided that the bar would float from the right top edge (with some padding) and grow towards the left as needed. Thanks to this, we save tons of screen real state, specially for regular users who just see this:
Let's see this in the context of the whole page. As you can see below, by placing the dockbar to the right the site logo and name become more relevant, which is what is desired in most situations:
If the user belongs to at least one site and has some administration priviledges then two additional menus appear:
- My Sites: Shows the sites that the user belongs to, with direct links to the public and private pages (if they exist).
- Admin: Contains a link to the Control Panel if the user has access to it and direct links to the site administration sections (Pages, Content, Users and Configuration) that the user has access to. The direct links to each section was one of the last additions based on early user feedback and it has two benefits: It requires fewer clicks to perform any administration operation and it shows the type of things the user will be able to manage for this site even before clicking them.
That's it for now. I'd love to hear your feedback on these changes.
Also, feel free to let me know what other features or improvements of the dockbar or Liferay 6.2 in general that you would like us to cover in upcoming blog entries.