Milen Dyankov

on a mission to help developers build clean, modular, and future-proof software

Liferay Portal 6 Enterprise Intranets review

July 04, 2010 | 3 Minute Read

A few weeks ago I was asked by Packt publishing to review the new Liferay Portal 6 Enterprise Intranets book. Going through over 650 pages took me some time but finally I'm ready to share my thought about it. 

By now you are probably scanning the text for something like "In general this is ____ book". Don't bother, I'm not going to generalize in this post. In fact, what you put in place of ____  depends on who you are, what is your Liferay background, and what you expect to learn.


I'm a software developer and I have been using Liferay for a few years now. When I heard about the book, my imagination draw a visions of me learning "how Liferay internal mechanisms work" or "what some of those strange configuration parameters are used for" or "how to tweak portlets' functionality and performance" or ... Of course, none of this had happened! This does not mean the book is bad, it only means I had too big expectations. If you are like me, then you may even get bored trying to read it form side to side. 

One thing that I really miss in this book is pointing out what's new in Liferay 6. I know well 5.2.x version and I would appreciate a special style or sign indicating new (or updated) feature in Liferay 6. This way more advanced readers could concentrate on things that are potentially of their interest and skip the part they are already familiar with.  If it wasn't for the review I would probably scan through the first few chapters for things I don't know (and yes there are some interesting features to learn even if you already know Liferay) and then pay more attention at the last ones.  The good news is the chapter 11 called "Ongoing Admin Tasks" is freely available online  so you can have a look and see how it compares to the level of your knowledge.  


But since "This book is for system administrators or experienced users (not necessarily programmers) who want to install and use Liferay in their teams or businesses without dealing with complex code. Prior knowledge of Liferay is not expected for this book." I decided to pretend I know almost nothing about Liferay and simply followed the instructions in the book (I wish I had the PDF version, it would save me some typing). When I got rid of "come on, I already know all this" attitude, I had to admit the book is quite well organized. Each chapter typically starts with explaining the basic functionality then goes through some configuration options and ends up instructing the reader how to define appropriate permissions. Sure, after the first two chapters you already know the pattern for defining permissions and there is no need to repeat it over and over again. But on the other hand if you intend to later one use the book as a quick reference or cheat-sheet, it may come handy.   

The book will explain almost (as with every book the thing you are particularly interested in, will be probably missing) every intranet feature you may need. Moreover it sometimes goes a bit off topic as I can hardly imagine configuring WAP or SEO for intranet site. It will not give too much details though, only enough to get you started and sometimes make small customizations. For example, it will not tell you how exactly portlet properties affect Liferay, but will give you a list of all properties related to current component with short explanation. 

Being frequent reader of Liferay forums I'm convinced there is need for such book. The number of questions starting with "How can I ..." speaks for itself and from what I've noticed people are already referring to this book for answers. But even if you are more advanced Liferay user, you may still find in the book valuable information about open search, clustering, reporting and audit logging, integration with Alfresco, CMIS and many others. Just remember, don't expect too much details.