I'm a Java developer in charge of making a product which allows clients to "build their own site". I've spent a lot of time looking into Liferay, as I don't have any experience in building CMSs, and want to either use it, or get ideas of how to build a decent system.

The time line is short, requirements are vague, yada yada

Is Liferay a good technology to work with when showing the client (who may be very low on computer expertise) a user interface to build a site? The thing is, I want the power and flexibility to avoid the learning curve in building a CMS like product, but I don't want to waste time learning a new technology only to find its over-kill, or can't do the simple - but uncommon and unimplemented - things that we are asked to add as features

Ideally I'd like to provide multiple web interfaces to the core API to build the sites - one that is very powerful, and another that is watered down and easy to use.


If you have such vague requirements and a tight deadline, I'd probably look for an already built open source CMS that may meet the clients requirements. You have two issues here to consider that may cause you trouble in the long term if you wanna go on with the project given that 1) you have vague requirements (which is pretty normal I guess, most clients don't know what they want) and 2) a tight deadline. If you really think you can do it, go ahead. But be careful not to deliver something half-baked and unpolished. The client will not appreciate that, after you have agreed to do it on such terms.

  • there is no "client" - it is a project from "above", a product offering, but it's as much an internal app as external – walnutmon Jan 4 '11 at 2:58
  • If it's a product offering, then you meant "customers". Either way, good luck. – jasonco Jan 4 '11 at 3:02
  • +1 for that. Look for an existing open source CMS and customize it for your needs. I know of only one for Java, Nuxeo 5, I have no idea if it's any good. They have nice slides. :) – Lennart Regebro Jan 4 '11 at 7:59
  • haha, yes, I did mean customers - it's not exactly a unique situation I'm in, but if you're used to selling software to a client who is paying you, the approach is different than if you're creating software for a boss who is not giving you enough information - that is the crux of my dilemma; I don't know what they want, but they want it soon, so I want to use a tool that can do "anything" so that instead of scrambling to get basic CMS functionality working, I can instead focus on progress – walnutmon Jan 4 '11 at 14:28

Speaking from experience of the non-computer saavy using LifeRay, I can say that it is best avoided. It is a very powerful system in the right hands, but the level of complexity in the admin UI is astounding. It really tries to be anything to everyone and fails at doing the simple stuff well. We are in the process of ripping all instances out and moving to some custom systems.

Personally, if I needed something like this in a pinch, I would probably run with Wordpress multi-user.

  • Appreciate the info - how was Liferay from the eyes of designers? I'm not too concerned with Admin UI, as we can simplify it, and I will likely be admining it in the begining. Wordpress from what I understand is a blogging tool, and not being able to develop my own functionality in Java would be a major problem – walnutmon Jan 4 '11 at 15:24
  • First, by admin UI I meant "the ui to update anything at all." I wasn't personally involved in the project in the design phase, but the minor redesigns I've been around indicate it is pretty par for the course for most CMS stuff. – Wyatt Barnett Jan 4 '11 at 17:44
  • @walnutmon: +1: Around here we call it Deathray. 'Nuff said. – Robusto Jul 25 '11 at 20:16

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