Using Liferay as a social platform
Whether you plan to build a social network or enable social applications as part of your overall user experience, Liferay Portal has the tools to make those features work for you. Starting with a suite of applications–including a profile summary, activities feeds, social requests, a wall, and more–and rounding things out with an API to handle relationships between users as well as publish their activities to each other, Liferay Portal helps you implement common features of social networks.
Figure 1.8: Liferay Portal provides feeds of social activities. These feeds can contain entries from any of Liferay’s built-in applications or applications that you write.
Social relationships in Liferay Portal are ideally suited for everything from public social networks to enabling social features in your corporate Intranet. Users can form relationships with one another, allowing them to see updates from those whose activity they need to track. That’s far more powerful than having them subscribe to multiple individual RSS feeds or visit multiple profiles, because the system keeps track of the updates from those with whom you have a relationship, automatically.
More than this, however, Liferay is a great integration platform for social applications. It fully supports the OpenSocial framework. You can publish gadgets you find online, or you can use Liferay Portal’s built-in OpenSocial gadget editor to create and serve your own OpenSocial gadgets.
Figure 1.9: Liferay Portal’s OpenSocial gadget editor lets you rapidly create social applications that can be served across the web to any other OpenSocial container.
Liferay Portal also supports the creation of Facebook applications; in fact, no additional coding is necessary to publish your Liferay applications on Facebook (you would, of course, need to use Facebook’s API to use Facebook-specific features like posting on users’ timelines). All you need to do is get an API key and canvas page URL from Facebook.
Figure 1.10: Any Liferay application can be published to multiple social networks with a few clicks.
As you can see, Liferay Portal is built with social applications in mind. It’s highly likely, however that you also have your own application you need to run on your website. The Liferay Portal platform is ideal for the web application you’re considering writing. In addition to this, Liferay Portal is easily configured to be used as a shared hosting platform for multiple web sites. Let’s look at the benefits you can reap by using Liferay Portal in these ways.