The Users Section of the Control Panel
The Users section of the Control Panel is used for most administrative tasks involving user management. There, you’ll find an interface for the creation and maintenance of the following portal entities: users, organizations, user groups, and roles.
Figure 16.1: The Users section of the Control Panel allows portal administrators to manage users, organizations, user groups, and roles. It also allows administrators to monitor users’ live portal sessions if monitoring has been enabled for the portal.
Since we explained how to manage sites, teams, site templates, and page templates in chapters 2 and 3, we won’t discuss them in detail here. Nevertheless, remember that it’s possible and sometimes simpler to use sites, site memberships, and teams to organize users and manage permissions than it is to use organizations, user groups, and custom roles.
As a portal administrator, you’ll use the Users section of the Control Panel to create users, organizations, and user groups, implement security via roles and permissions, and administer your users. Note that only users with the administrator role, which is a portal scoped role, have permission to view the Control Panel. You can, of course, grant permissions to view one or more sections, such as the Users section, to custom roles.
Adding and Editing Users
Are you using Liferay’s default administrative user, Test Test (firstname.lastname@example.org)? If so, let’s add a user account for yourself and configure your new account so it has the same administrative access as the default administrator account. From the Dockbar, click Admin and select Control Panel. Then click on Users and Organizations. Click the Add button and select User. Fill out the Add User form using your name and email address. When you are finished, click Save.
Figure 16.2: You need to at least enter a screen name, email address, and first name in order to create a new user account.
After you submit the form, the page reloads with a success message. An expanded form appears that allows you to fill out a lot more information about the user. You don’t have to fill anything else out right now. Just note that when the user account was created, a password was automatically generated. If Liferay was correctly installed and a mail server was set up (see chapter 14), an email message with the user’s new password was sent to the user’s email address. This, of course, requires that Liferay can properly communicate with your SMTP mail server.
Figure 16.3: Once you’ve completed the basic form for creating a new user account, you’ll see a much more detailed form for editing the user and adding additional information.
If you haven’t yet set up your mail server, you’ll need to use this page to change the default password for your user account to something you can remember. You can do this by clicking on the Password link in the box on the right, entering the new password in the two fields and clicking Save. Next, you should give your user account the same administrative rights as the default administrator’s account. This allows you to perform administrative tasks with your own account instead of having to use the default administrator account. In production, you should always delete or disable the default administrator account to secure your portal.
On the form for editing a user, click the Roles link in the menu on the right side of the screen. This page shows the roles to which your account is currently assigned. You should have one role: Power User. By default, all users are assigned the Power User role. The Power User role doesn’t grant any special permissions. It can safely be ignored. Alternatively, it can be used to extend the User role. If there are certain custom permissions that you’d like all of your portal users to have, you can grant these custom permissions to the Power User role. You can also customize the default roles a new user receives via Default User Associations. We’ll learn to do this when we look at Portal Settings in the next chapter.
We want to assign the Administrator role to our user account. On the form for editing a user, after having clicked on Roles at the right side of the screen, click the Select link under Regular Roles. A dialog box pops up with a list of all the regular (portal-scoped) roles in the portal. Select the Administrator role from the list. The dialog box disappears and the role is added to the list of roles associated with your account. Don’t forget to click the Save button which is at the bottom of the blue bar of links on the right side of the screen. You are now a portal administrator. Log out of the portal and then log back in with your own user account. Next, let’s look at some other aspects of user management.
If you click on Users and Organizations in the Control Panel, you should now see your user account in the list of users. If you want to change something about a particular user, you can click the Actions button next to that user.
Edit: takes you back to the Edit User page where you can modify any aspect of the user account including the screen name, email address, first name, last name, site and organization memberships, roles, etc.
Permissions: allows you to define which roles have permissions to edit the user.
Manage Pages: allows you to edit the personal pages of a user.
Impersonate User: opens another browser window which allows you to browse the site as if you were the user.
Deactivate: deactivates the user’s account.
Note that most users can’t perform most of the above actions. In fact, most users won’t even have access to the Control Panel. You can perform all of the above functions because you have administrative access.
Next, let’s look at how to manage organizations.
Organizations are used to represent hierarchical structures of users such as those of companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, churches, schools, and clubs. They are designed to allow distributed user administration. Organizations can be used, for example, to represent a sports league. The league itself could be modeled as a top-level organization and the various sports (soccer, baseball, basketball, etc.) could be modeled as suborganizations. The teams belonging to the various sports could be modeled as sub-organizations of the sports organizations. So, for example, you could have an organization hierarchy that looks like this:
- Atlantic Sports League
- Atlantic Soccer Association
- Midway Soccer Club
- Fairview Soccer Club
- Oak Grove Soccer Club
- Atlantic Baseball Association
- Five Points Baseball Club
- Riverside Baseball Club
- Pleasant Hill Baseball Club
- Atlantic Basketball Association
- Bethel Basketball Club
- Centerville Basketball Club
- New Hope Basketball Club
Whenever you have a collection of users that fit into a hierarchical structure, you can use organizations to model those users. In Liferay, organization administrators can manage all the users in their organization and in any suborganization. Referring to the hierarchy above, for example, an organization administrator of the Atlantic Sports League could manage any users belonging to the league itself, to any of the associations, or to any of the associations’ clubs. An organization administrator of the Atlantic Soccer Association could manage any users belonging to the Atlantic Soccer Association itself, or to the Midway Soccer Club, Fairview Soccer Club, or Oak Grove Soccer Club. However, an administrator of the Atlantic Soccer Association would not be able to manage users belonging to the Atlantic Baseball Association or to the Bethel Basketball Club.
Organizations and suborganization hierarchies can be created to unlimited levels. Users can be members of one or many organizations. The rights of an organization administrator apply both to his/her organization and to any child organizations. By default, members of child organizations are implicit members of their parent organizations. This means, for example, that members of child organizations can access the private pages of their parent organizations. This behavior can be customized in your portal’s
portal-ext.properties configuration file.
Since organizations are designed for distributed user administration, organization administrators have an entirely different set of privileges than site administrators. Site administrators are responsible for the pages, portlets, and content of their site. They are also responsible for managing the membership of their site. To this end, they can set the membership type to Open, Restricted, or Private. They can also add users to or remove users from their site but cannot manage the users themselves. Organization administrators, on the other hand, can edit users belonging to their organization or any suborganization. They cannot add existing users to their organization but they can create new users within their organization. Only portal administrators can add existing users to an organization.
Many simple portal designs don’t use organizations at all; they only use sites (see chapters 2 and 3 for more information on sites). Remember that the main purpose of organizations is to allow for distributed user management. They allow portal administrators to delegate some of their user management responsibilities to organization administrators. If you don’t anticipate needing to delegate user management responsibilities, your portal design need not include organizations. In order to decide whether or not your portal design should include organization, think about your portal’s function. A simple photo-sharing web site, for example, could be powered by sites only. On the other hand, organizations are useful for corporations or educational institutions since their users can easily be placed into a hierarchical structure. In fact, organizations in Liferay are designed to model any group hierarchy, from those of government agencies all the way down to those of small clubs. Of course, users can belong both to organizations and to independent sites. For example, a corporation or educational institution could create a social networking site open to all portal users, even ones from separate organizations.
Additionally, organization administrators can assign organization-scoped roles to members of their organization. For example, consider an IT Security group in a corporate setting. You could have a suborganizaton of your IT organization that handles security for all of the applications company-wide. If you grant the IT Security organization the portal administrator role, all the members of the organization would have administrative access to the entire portal. Suppose further that a user in this organization was later hired by the Human Resources department. The simple act of removing the user from the IT Security organization also removes the user’s administrative privileges, since the privilege came from the IT Security organization’s role. By adding the user to the HR organization, any roles the HR organization has (such as access to a benefits system in the portal) are transferred to the user. In this manner, you can design your portal to correspond with your existing organization chart and users’ permissions are granted according to their positions in the chart.
Of course, this is only one way to design it. If you have more complex requirements for permissions within an organization, you can create custom organization-scoped roles to assemble the permissions you wish to grant to particular users. Alternatively, you could consider attaching a site to your organization and using site teams to assemble the sets of permissions (see below). We’ll discuss roles and permissions in more detail later in this chapter.
Does your organization need to have its own site? Many organizations don’t, but since some do, Liferay allows sites to be attached to organizations. If an organization has an attached site, the organization’s administrators are treated as the site administrators of the attached site. This means that they can manage the pages, portlets, and content of the site as well as the users of the organization. Members of an organization with an attached site are treated as members of the organization’s site. This means that they can access the private pages of the organization’s site, along with any portlets or content there. The capability of attaching sites to organizations allows portal administrators to use organizations to facilitate distributed portal administration, not just distributed user administration. Next, let’s learn how to create and manage organizations.
To add an organization, click the Users and Organizations link in the Control Panel. Then click the Add button and choose Regular Organization. To attach a site when you create an organization, click on Organization Site at the right and check the Create Site box. If you don’t know right now if your organization needs a site, that’s fine. You can always add one later if the need arises.
Figure 16.4: Adding a new organization is easy. Once you’ve clicked Save to create the organization, you can specify additional details about the organization.
Name: Enter a name for the organization.
Type: Choose whether this is a regular organization or a location. A location cannot have any suborganizations.
Parent Organization: Select an organization in the system to be the direct parent of the organization you are creating. Click the Remove button to remove the currently configured parent.
Tip: By creating an organization, you automatically become both a member and receive the Organization Owner role, which gives you full administrative rights within the organization. This means that you can, for example, appoint other users to be organization administrators or organization owners. Organization owners are equivalent to organization administrators except that they can assign the Organization Owner and Organization Administrator roles to other users; they can also remove the memberships of other Organization Administrators or Owners. Organization administrators can’t make these role assignments and can’t manage the memberships of other Organization Administrators or Owners.
Fill out the information for your organization and click Save. As when creating a new user, after you click Save to submit the form, a success message appears along with a new form which lets you enter additional information about the organization. Organizations can have multiple email addresses, postal addresses, web sites, and phone numbers associated with them. The Services link can be used to indicate the operating hours of the organization, if any.
For now, click on the Back icon. This takes you back to the list of organizations. Click the Actions button next to the new organization you created. This shows a list of actions you can perform on this organization.
Edit: lets you specify details about the organization, including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and websites.
Manage Site: lets you create and manage the public and private pages of the organization’s site. This only appears for organizations that have attached sites.
Assign Organization Roles: lets you assign organization-scoped roles to users. By default, Organizations are created with three roles: Organization Administrator, Organization User and Organization Owner. You can assign one or more of these roles to users in the organization. All members of the organization automatically get the Organization User role so this role is hidden when you click Assign Organization Roles.
Assign Users: lets you search and select users in the portal to be assigned to this organization as members.
Add User: adds a new user in the portal and assigns the user as a member of this organization.
Add Regular Organization: lets you add a child organization to this organization. This is how you create hierarchies of organizations with parent-child relationships.
Add Location: lets you add a child Location, which is a special type of organization that cannot have any children added to it.
Delete: removes this organization from the portal. Make sure the organization has no users in it first.
If you click the View button at the top of the Users and Organizations page and select View Hierarchy you can view both a list of users who are members of this organization and a list of all the suborganizations of this organization.
Users can join or be assigned to sites when they share a common interest. Users can be assigned to organizations when they fit into a hierarchical structure. Users groups provide a more ad hoc way to group users than sites and organizations. Let’s look at them next.