Liferay DEVCON 2019: Massive Changes On The Way

Liferay DEVCON 2019:
Massive Changes On The Way

40+ sessions and technical workshops, 60 speakers, audience from all over the world, 2,000 cups of coffee consumed. This is how it was at Liferay DEVCON 2019. From then on, we’ve started a tradition of participating at the yearly Liferay Developer conference.

Aimprosoft team in the company of Brian Chan, Chief Software Architect and co-Founder of Liferay
Image 1. Aimprosoft team in the company of Brian Chan, Chief Software Architect and co-Founder of Liferay

DEVCON is the biggest event conducted every year for developers, DevOps, architects, and all other savvy specialists who want to pump up their knowledge in Liferay technology, network with their co-fellas on the emerging IT issues, and just have fun in a relaxing and friendly atmosphere.

This year everyone was welcomed to Mainz, Germany to spend 3 engaging days at the conference on November 18-20, 2019. This old European city added to the warm and homely atmosphere prevailing at the event.

Altstadt city streets at dusk
Image 2. Altstadt city streets at dusk

Unconference

Like the starter served before the main course, the Unconference had driven the thirst for knowledge before Day 1 of the conference. If you are a hands-on developer and resolve day-to-day issues on projects, Unconference is the event just for you: it presents you with the excellent opportunity to go beyond the agenda and define the topic of interest by yourself on the spot.

Choosing topics of interest for discussion at Unconference
Image 3. Choosing topics of interest for discussion at Unconference

It appeared to be a perfect opportunity for us to talk it over in the circle of the fellow co-thinkers arm in arm with the Liferay leadership team. We were really delighted by the openness and supportiveness of the community that contributed to the involvement of everybody in the common cause.

The breakout groups at Unconference formed according to the high-focus issues. Everyone could take most of it thanks to the Law of 2 Feet: “if at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning, nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.”

In the circle of co-thinkers with Liferay experts discussing the technical issues
Image 4. In the circle of co-thinkers with Liferay experts discussing the technical issues

The discussions revolved around widget and content pages as the shift to the letter is on the roadmap. It is planned widget pages will become deprecated in the near future, and the special converter for transforming them into content pages has already been developed. We are going to see its release in Liferay DXP 7.3 pretty soon. This shift enables adding fragments to content pages, which means your users will be able to manage them without developer interference.

Another piece of news was that developers would be able to use Spring, PortletMVC4Spring in particular, to simplify their code and boost the performance of the system. Core Spring will be updated from 4.x to 5.1.

PortletMVC4Spring introduction
Image 5. PortletMVC4Spring introduction

Zero Day of the Unconference only partly foreshadowed the whole range of changes Liferay had in store for the near future. But first thing first. Let’s take it up in the right order.

Day 1: What’s for the main course?

Day 1 of the Conference was marked by the key note of Bryan Cheung, Liferay Founder & CEO, who talked about the three newly-released products in 2019: Liferay Commerce, Analytics Cloud, and DXP Cloud in addition to the Liferay flagship product — DXP.

Liferay newly-released products
Image 6. Liferay newly-released products

A broad issue of DXP 7.2, the latest version of Liferay DXP, which was released with new and improved features in 2019, was highlighted by Jorge Ferrer, Vice President of Engineering at Liferay. The “go headless” concept has been implemented by leveraging headless APIs for out-of-the-box services so that Liferay can be seamlessly integrated across all the systems

Headless API implementation with REST in DXP 7.2
Image 7. Headless API implementation with REST in DXP 7.2

The bulk of features such as AI for auto-tagging, modern front-end development, authoring of content, and search were given special attention as they support customer experience (CX) and streamline business processes in the organization. Portlet 3.0 is intended to support JEE 7, optimized JSF, WSRP, web sockets, and open social standards. Completely decoupled front-end with Liferay’s out-of-the-box API layer will enable developers to build front-end using any relevant tools and frameworks like React and Angular for the project.

Portlet 3.0 application in DXP 7.3
Image 8. Portlet 3.0 application in DXP 7.3

A workshop of Rodolfo Miranda and Carlos Lancha provided the party with practical knowledge on how to use React and Angular to build rich applications with ease by using create-react-app, angular-cli, and Liferay’s js-toolkit frontend tools.

A suite of customized search features including Result Rankings, Synonyms, Learning to Rank, Cross-Cluster Replication, new search widgets, and APIs ensures a customer can easily search any content.

Like it or not, the commerce new reality is that customers expect B2C experiences from B2B businesses. The ambitious purpose to resolve these complexities led to a new version of the Liferay B2B commerce platform — Commerce 2.0.

To fill the gap of customer expectations, multi-site catalog management that supports complex B2B commerce models, exploded views for ensuring customers to dig deep into the details, product recommendations enhanced by ML learning, advanced customer insight, and account management were implemented. Now with OpenTalend and MuleSoft Components, developers can speed up import, export, and synchronization of your product data between Liferay Commerce and other ERP/CRM systems.

Commerce 2.0 enhanced features for B2B
Image 9. Commerce 2.0 enhanced features for B2B3

As the move towards cloud is all the rage, much attention was dedicated to the launching production-ready DXP projects in the cloud, database/documents backup, and in-sync restore, autoscaling Liferay instances in the same cluster to provide businesses with easy cloud adoption and bring enterprises fully managed and hosted environment.

Launching production-ready DXP projects in the cloud
Image 10. Launching production-ready DXP projects in the cloud

David Nebinger, a Lead Consultant at Liferay, sparked a discussion on Resources Importer, Site Initializers, environmental setup using Liferay Upgrade Processes as well as scripting options such as Groovy Scripts in the control panel and other practical methods of a site via code deployment.

The speech of Brian Chan, Chief Software Architect at Liferay, winded up the First Day of DEVCON and fuelled much inspiration. He addressed the community by unveiling the far-reaching plans for the future: the support platform will be upgraded and adapted for the convenience and queries of the Liferay community. The technical documentation will be upgraded for the Liferay developers. And the main piece of news is that the Liferay product releases are expected to be once in 6 weeks.

Day 2: The party goes on

The Day 2 provided the participants with practical experience on how to use Fragment Renderers, Fragment Entry Processors, Asset Lists, and Info Framework features to build a compatible site.

Gabriel Albuquerque, Liferay Backend Software Engineer, and Marcela Cunha, Software Engineer, empowered everybody with an opportunity to learn how to apply the Liferay Data Engine APIs to create an application not plunging into persistence code or complex custom business logic that increases development efficiency.

The new Micro Frontends approach to break up monoliths was given a way. Stian Sigvartsen, Liferay Core Software Engineer, presented how to overcome challenges on OAuth2 and enhance apps security.

Micro Frontends architecture in DXP 7.2
Image 11. Micro Frontends architecture in DXP 7.2

AI/ML technologies were not left aside and found its implementation on Liferay Portal via virtual assistance. Chatbots will interact with your customers to cater to a better CX and commerce boost.

Kubernetes serve as a perfect tool for managing your project infrastructure, so the topic covered how the usage of a Git push helps you deploy Liferay code and configurations changes consistently to a Kubernetes cluster. As well as with Service packs and other Liferay existent tools, developers can patch their Liferay environments automatically and make deployments pursuant across environments.

Developing Liferay on Kubernetes or OpenShift
Image 12. Developing Liferay on Kubernetes or OpenShift

Angelo Youn closed the session by paving the roadmap for DXP 7.3. Many improvements are expected along the way concerning fragmentation. A lot has been told about Headless API here, but the issue will be taken further, and we see its evolvement in DXP 7.3.

Fragmentation in DXP 7.3
Image 13. Fragmentation in DXP 7.3

Customization is the primary option because the content should comply with the unique inquiries of the customers. To meet this demand, masters and starter content management templates will appear in 7.3 in addition to the existent display template page to ensure the uniqueness of pages and themes.

Data Engine API for the front end development will be realized in DXP 7.3 to allow non-developers to create applications.

Website performance is the subject for measurement as there is no point in business if you don’t see and measure its results. The data reporting tools that track performance metrics and provide real-time analysis of traffic patterns on your customers’ website are vital for any type of business, but for B2B marketing and ecommerce, it’s simply a question of survival. Having taken it seriously, Liferay provides advanced content performance tools that are AI-driven.

Liferay AI-driven content performance tools
Image 14. Liferay AI-driven content performance tools

What was helpful is that you get knowledge from different perspectives: the Liferay experts and your colleagues who face the same issues on projects and learn along their path as you do. By multiplying our efforts, the best of the technology can be achieved.

Our impressions? Liferay is taking on new dimensions. A lot is expected in terms of technology advancements and change. Liferay is still uncovering its potential, and we are happy to be part of it.

Official Liferay DEVCON 2019 recap video

Some me-time

The impressions would have been incomplete if you do not take a chance to discover new places while far from home. Mainz proved to be a calm city with tiny half-timbered houses and cobblestoned streets of Altstadt (the Old Town). It possesses a medieval untold flavor that like a veil covers the city. You can wander around Altstadt (the Old Town) or go down to the Rhine river, visit the main attractions, and sample flowery aromas of Rieslings, the Rhine region trademark of sparkling white wines.

Enjoying our free time at Altstadt in Mainz
Image 15. Enjoying our free time at Altstadt in Mainz

We were not different from the other curious tourists and paved our path to the Gutenberg Museum to explore the history of Western Europe printing. As well we could not miss (and we take on the bravery to recommend it) climbing up the city’s highest hill to visit St. Stephan cathedral. Its beautiful architecture with a touch of unearthly blue stained-glass windows designed by Marc Shagall leaves you with an unpathing feeling of delight and hope for humanity.

Blue stained-glass windows designed by Marc Shagall at St. Stephan cathedral
Image 16. Blue stained-glass windows designed by Marc Shagall at St. Stephan cathedral

To round off the day with a well-deserved meal and plunge into the art of brewing, we pampered ourselves with a pint of authentic flavored Helles Märzen at Eisgrub Bräu pub.

We had marvelous three days thanks to the supportive Liferay community and Liferay core engineering team, and we are already looking forward to the next year’s DEVCON. See you there! Meanwhile, if you want to have a word with us, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We are closer than you think!

Aimprosoft team at Liferay Devcon 2019