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Liferay Portal Adds Social Features, Marketplace

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The Liferay 6.1 portal recently introduced rounds out features for serving as a platform for social application development, while also introducing a marketplace for software plugins.

Liferay is an open source Java portal developed and supported by Liferay Inc. "There might be as many as half a million sites on Liferay," Chief Marketing Officer Paul Hinz said in an interview. It's hard to tell how many installations of the free community edition are out there, he said, but Liferay makes money on the enterprise edition that powers public websites like Sesame Street, community sites like Cisco Developer Network, and inside-the-firewall portals.

Hinz said a distinguishing feature of the portal is that it includes a full Web content management system. This release also makes the platform more social, giving developers the freedom to open up new ways of collaborating around and commenting on items such as calendar entries. The system can be set up with user profiles and activity streams, and configured for either reciprocal "friend" connections or Twitter-style "follower" connections.

In addition to enhancing the basic platform, Liferay hopes to get other developers to enrich it with the addition of a marketplace on the "app store" model. Companies planning to offer plugins in the Liferay Marketplace include Alfresco, Vaadin, TandemSeven, salsaDev, Roambi, Omegabit, Xtivia, ProfIT Software and SocialEkwity.

[ There are growing questions about the proliferation of App Stores. Read more about Many App Store Applications Are Bulk Duplications ]

Liferay 6.1 can also support multiple enterprise content repositories, such as Documentum and Alfresco, on the back end, while presenting users with a common user interface. Web publishers can take advantage of new features for staging and versioning content under development before it is shared with the world.

Prior to its acquisition by Oracle, Sun Microsystems partnered with the company to make Liferay part of a portfolio of open source Java servers under the GlassFish brand. Post acquisition, Oracle had a surplus of portal servers and Liferay went its own way again, Hinz said.

Like other portals, Liferay supports a boilerplate navigation and layout scheme where content and applications can be added and moved around within a grid of squares on an index page. Liferay was built around the Java portlet model, but can also incorporate Google Gadgets and software written in other languages using the OpenSocial user interface integration standard. Currently, Liferay supports OpenSocial 1.1, but support for the recently released OpenSocial 2.0 specification should follow in the next release, Hinz said.

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