The Good side of Liferay
Liferay is NOT just a Java based CMS. It’s a complete portal environment that’s suitable for large enterprise usage. It should be used as a platform to develop in-house applications or intranet. If you need just a small website to promote something then Liferay is not for you.
Some people compare Liferay with PHP based CMS systems like Joomla or Wordpress but that’s completely wrong. Liferay does contain CMS and it’s not a bad one. It’s rather useful for providing small applications and even better for big applications.
Supporting JSR 168 and JSR 286 means you can deploy Portlet applications that others have developed. Liferay also has a very good support for groups and communities allowing you to build team sites and custom environments for different user-groups with ease. Some cool features that you get with Liferay out of the box are:
- User and Group management
- Multi-site support for having different pages and themes for different user groups
- Proper Access rights and Role management
- Document library management
- Wiki, Blogging and Forums
- Service Oriented Architecture
- Theme support
- Integrates with other existing systems using LDAP, RSS, iFrames and other technologies
The Bad side of Liferay
Developing applications and portals for the first time is a taunting task and comes with a rather massive learning curve. If you plan to use Liferay Service Builder and do everything “the Liferay way” then you have to plan probably at least couple of weeks for learning it first.
If you need to develop a small application quickly AND you don’t have an existing Liferay installation already in-house then you can get your application done way faster by NOT using Liferay. But once you have learned Liferay and have enough need for proper portal then Liferay becomes rather irresistible.
When it comes to documentation and tutorials then it’s not the best situation either. It does have a massive developer’s guide. But the Wiki is filled with tons of content that’s rather old and not updated for the latest releases.
The official developer and administration guides are good but often lack information about some crucial parts or fail to provide decent examples. While they claim to be developer friendly I have to admit that some parts of the development platform is severely lacking. Also note that releases are rather infrequent. Also one should be very cautious because early versions are always rather buggy.