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The Liferay (news, site) developers catch their breaths from releasing Liferay 6 Enterprise Edition. Still, even as they launch the new product, they already have in mind many of the key features destined for 6.1.

Some Background

In talking to Liferay's Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Hinz, he explained his experience driving strategy for Sun's (news, site) portal technology, back then (early 2000's) portals didn't typically contain their own content creation and editing features. Without those features, Sun needed to partner with CMS vendors in order to offer a full solution. The problem was that there was enough feature overlap in the products that the portal team would cannibalize CMS sales prospects, and the CMS team would cannibalize portal sales prospects.

At the time there wasn't much of a choice because portals were already heavy to run. That heaviness caused them to fall out of favor as companies turned to lighter, more nimble tools that offered more attractive results.

Today many of the older portals are gone. Their companies are out of business, or have been acquired. Of the survivors, many remaining portals are at the end of feature life, with their parent companies only releasing security updates and bug fixes.

New and Enhanced Features

Today's portals tend to offer their own Web CMS features, with varying levels of success. They also tend to be part of application stacks rather than completely stand-alone. Liferay for example lives within a Java stack. Being part of an application stack is one way that the company keeps its portal down to 215MB, making it a light core before you start adding plugins, templates, contents and more.

While Liferay can integrate with a variety of existing CMS's plus CMIS, Hinz says that Web CMS features within Liferay itself are considered vital to its success -- though their goal is not to become a full-fledged enterprise CMS.

Liferay 6 brought many enhancements to the open source product's web content management capabilities. Expect to find many more in version 6.1, along with numerous other improvements such as:

  • Building the presentation layer out further, such as further enhancing their Alloy UI
  • More social collaboration features
  • More developer tools
  • Possibly new standards
  • In-context preview
  • Internationalization of all WCM article fields and URLs
  • Increased SEO performance of WCM portlets
  • Refactoring the staging process to more tightly integrate with the new workflow features
  • Versioned pages
  • Site branches and branch publishing
  • OSGi support
  • Modularity to the point that you can drop a patch or plug-in into a running production server without needing any downtime

Hinz stated that, ultimately, they would love to enable rapid application development simple enough for power and end users to take advantage of. In his talk on the future of Liferay, Senior Software Architect Ray Aúge said that the goal is to produce a more scalable, extensible and maintainable platform.

Where There's Apps ...

While he was playing a bit coy on the details, Hinz did say that one of the company's next steps is to create a marketplace for applications, extensions, plug-ins and so on. The creation of new APIs, extension of others and developer tools added in version 6 set the stage for this move. Now that they're sure that the developer platform is stable and won't constantly change on people, they're ready.

Other Goals

Hinz stated that their goal is to go after customers building every kind of site, leveraging customers like Sesame Street to show off the flexibility they can offer. They also want to appeal to social application developers, pointing out that if you're building a web application today it may as well include social features. Another group they're targeting is the estimated 10,000 customers who currently have solutions built on portals who are at end of feature life, with their Design with Liferay program.

They're also working on the option of making one single payment for unlimited use of Liferay, with different levels for intranet or extranet use. The company currently offers multiple pricing models such as annual subscriptions or larger initial payments and then recurring maintenance fees.