Liferay Custom Notifications

Java tutorial on how to handle Liferay custom notifications. There is very little good information on this topic but I’ve seen a good need for a proper documentation so here’s a nice example of how to handle Liferay User Notifications based on Liferay 6.2 Notifications API. The official documentation on Liferay notifications is rather weak but then again the feature is also rather new and it’s not even 100% part of the core Liferay experience. Liferay 6.2 notifications have improved quite well and I feel it’s time to make them a first-class feature.

If you download the Liferay 6.2 bundle with Tomcat then you have the Notifications portlet installed already. If you installed Liferay on your own Tomcat or other Application Server using the WAR installation method then you need to install Notifications Portlet from the Marketplace.
Here’s a link to the Notifications CE Portlet on Liferay Marketplace.

Liferay custom notifications require a User Notification Handler class that turns the notification into a nice HTML fragment that is displayed to the user. Also Liferay wants us to define the notification types that our portlet or application is creating in a definition file upfront.

So the first thing we need to do is to define the location of our class that extends BaseUserNotificationHandler class and definitions inside liferay-portlet.xml. This can be done in liferay-portlet.xml like this:


The important part is user-notification-definitions and user-notification-handler-class tags. Now we need to actually define our notification inside that example-user-notification-definitions.xml. This file should go into your resources folder. Since I’m using a maven based project then this file goes into src/main/resources/:

location of example-user-notification-definitions.xml

If you are running an Ant based project then you have to place this file inside docroot/WEB-INF/src/ folder.

Here’s the example-user-notification-definitions.xml I created:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE user-notification-definitions PUBLIC "-//Liferay//DTD User Notification Definitions 6.2.0//EN" "">

Notice how we are using some public final Strings from class files like this: ${com.example.notifications.ExampleUserNotificationHandler.PORTLET_ID}. This allows us to define our Portlet ID in one location and keep things a little bit simpler.
Ok, so now we have our example defined and we can actually Add a new notification for the user. We can do so by using the built-in UserNotificationEventLocalServiceUtil in either our Service Builder class or one of our portlet classes.

Here’s how to add a new notification event:

    JSONObject payloadJSON = JSONFactoryUtil.createJSONObject();
    payloadJSON.put("userId", user.getUserId());
    payloadJSON.put("yourCustomEntityId", exampleEntity.getEntityId());
    payloadJSON.put("additionalData", "Your notification was added!");

		(new Date()).getTime(),
		false, serviceContext);		

If you are doing this inside a portlet then you need the serviceContext, you can get one like this:

ServiceContext serviceContext = ServiceContextFactory.getInstance(portletRequest);

So now that we have our notification inside the database we want to actually show it to the user. When we look at the dockbar our notification number gets increased so we can be pretty sure that the notification was added. When you attempt to actually look at the notification you will probably see a blank white box. We need the notification handler class to actually handle the display side of our notification. This current example also handles the behavior like providing Approve and Reject buttons right in our example notification so that our example user could perform an action straight from the dockbar notification and not waste extra time when it’s a trivial task. I don’t have the correct screenshot but the look we are going after is similar to that you can see on this picture:
liferay custom notifications

Basic idea being we have an Approve and Reject buttons on our notification, so that you can click on the notification or it’s background to go and View more details, but you can also directly perform some custom actions like Approve or Reject in this Liferay custom notification tutorial. The buttons could also be “Report as Spam” or “Notify the Security”. It’s all up to you where that link takes the user.
So here’s our handler class:

import javax.portlet.ActionRequest;
import javax.portlet.PortletURL;
import javax.portlet.WindowState;

import com.liferay.portal.kernel.json.JSONFactoryUtil;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.json.JSONObject;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.log.Log;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.log.LogFactoryUtil;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.notifications.BaseUserNotificationHandler;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.portlet.LiferayPortletResponse;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.StringBundler;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.StringPool;
import com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.StringUtil;
import com.liferay.portal.model.UserNotificationEvent;
import com.liferay.portal.service.ServiceContext;
import com.liferay.portal.service.UserNotificationEventLocalServiceUtil;

public class ExampleUserNotificationHandler extends
		BaseUserNotificationHandler {
	public static final String PORTLET_ID = "example_WAR_exampleportlet";
	public ExampleUserNotificationHandler() {



	protected String getBody(UserNotificationEvent userNotificationEvent,
			ServiceContext serviceContext) throws Exception {

		JSONObject jsonObject = JSONFactoryUtil

		long yourCustomEntityId = jsonObject

		String title = "<strong>Example notification for entity ID "
				+ yourCustomEntityId
				+ "</strong>";

		String bodyText = "Some other text.";

		LiferayPortletResponse liferayPortletResponse = serviceContext

		PortletURL confirmURL = liferayPortletResponse.createActionURL(com.example.notifications.ExampleUserNotificationHandler.PORTLET_ID);

		confirmURL.setParameter(ActionRequest.ACTION_NAME, "doSomethingGood");
		confirmURL.setParameter("redirect", serviceContext.getLayoutFullURL());
		confirmURL.setParameter("yourCustomEntityId", String.valueOf(yourCustomEntityId));
		confirmURL.setParameter("userNotificationEventId", String.valueOf(userNotificationEvent.getUserNotificationEventId()));

		PortletURL ignoreURL = liferayPortletResponse.createActionURL(com.example.notifications.ExampleUserNotificationHandler.PORTLET_ID);
		ignoreURL.setParameter(ActionRequest.ACTION_NAME, "cancelForExample");
		ignoreURL.setParameter("redirect", serviceContext.getLayoutFullURL());
		ignoreURL.setParameter("yourCustomEntityId", String.valueOf(yourCustomEntityId));
		ignoreURL.setParameter("userNotificationEventId", String.valueOf(userNotificationEvent.getUserNotificationEventId()));

		String body = StringUtil.replace(getBodyTemplate(), new String[] {
				"[$CONFIRM$]", "[$CONFIRM_URL$]", "[$IGNORE$]",
				"[$IGNORE_URL$]", "[$TITLE$]", "[$BODY_TEXT$]" }, new String[] {
				serviceContext.translate("approve"), confirmURL.toString(),
				serviceContext.translate("reject"), ignoreURL.toString(),
				title, bodyText });
		return body;

	protected String getLink(UserNotificationEvent userNotificationEvent,
			ServiceContext serviceContext) throws Exception {

		JSONObject jsonObject = JSONFactoryUtil

		long yourCustomEntityId = jsonObject
		LiferayPortletResponse liferayPortletResponse = serviceContext

		PortletURL viewURL = liferayPortletResponse.createActionURL(com.example.notifications.ExampleUserNotificationHandler.PORTLET_ID);
		viewURL.setParameter(ActionRequest.ACTION_NAME, "showDetails");
		viewURL.setParameter("redirect", serviceContext.getLayoutFullURL());
		viewURL.setParameter("yourCustomEntityId", String.valueOf(yourCustomEntityId));
		viewURL.setParameter("userNotificationEventId", String.valueOf(userNotificationEvent.getUserNotificationEventId()));
		return viewURL.toString();

	protected String getBodyTemplate() throws Exception {
		StringBundler sb = new StringBundler(5);
		sb.append("<div class=\"title\">[$TITLE$]</div><div ");
		sb.append("class=\"body\">[$BODY_TEXT$]<a class=\"btn btn-action ");
		sb.append("btn-success\" href=\"[$CONFIRM_URL$]\">[$CONFIRM$]</a>");
		sb.append("<a class=\"btn btn-action btn-warning\" href=\"");
		return sb.toString();


NB Important Information: The com.example.notifications.ExampleUserNotificationHandler.PORTLET_ID string that you use as your notification type has to match an actual portlet ID. It doesn’t actually need to be YOUR portlet ID but that would be the right thing to have there. The reason being that Notifications display portlet uses it to display a small portlet icon next to your notification to help the user identify the source of the notification. Providing a bad Portlet ID or something like null leads to a hard-to-trace NullPointerException in the JSP. Took me an hour to track it down.

The problematic part is this code from notifications-portlet view_entries.jsp source

<span class="portlet-icon">
<liferay-portlet:icon-portlet portlet="<%= PortletLocalServiceUtil.getPortletById(company.getCompanyId(), userNotificationEvent.getType()) %>" />

If you have a question or having trouble getting it working then feel free to write me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you out. If you would like to read more about Liferay related subjects then also make sure to comment on that and if you liked what you read then make sure to subscribe – It’s FREE!