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Liferay Extends Portal with Prewired Native Mobile App Components

Liferay Inc. announced a collection of native mobile components to help enterprises meet the exploding demand for iOS and Android apps.

The new Liferay Screens open source offering provides "screenlets" that supply functionality such as user authentication and dynamic data lists, hooked into the company's Liferay Portal that functions as the back-end for an organization's app portfolio.

The open source portal is actually the company's main product, described as "an enterprise Web platform for building business solutions" that combines the best of competing services WebSphere and SharePoint. It provides content and document management, Web publishing and shared workspaces, enterprise collaboration, social networking and mashups and so on.

The portal had provided features exposed in Web sites -- not mobile apps -- through "portlets." Jose M. Navarro explained how he came up with the idea to extend the functionality into the mobile app arena, inspired by the company's mobile SDK that supplied the plumbing to consume the portal's APIs from various devices. His prototype developed into Liferay Screens 1.0, he announced last week.

"The problem we're trying to solve for companies is, ‘how do we quickly build great mobile apps that integrate with the overall customer experience, while keeping development costs to a minimum?'" said company exec Juan Fernandez in a statement yesterday. "Companies have to respond to the mobile explosion, but they need to do so with a strategy. With Liferay Screens, you can develop high-quality, elegant mobile apps quickly without compromising on these long-term considerations."

Liferay Screens is compatible with standard development tools, such as XCode for iOS and Android Studio and Eclipse ADT for Android apps. On the iOS side of things, they work with Objective-C, even though they're written in Apple's newer Swift programming language. Liferay provides guides for developers who want to create their own screenlets or customize existing ones. Developers are also free to use other back-ends, but they must write the custom logic.

While more screenlets are planned to provide more features offered through the previously Web-oriented portal, only eight are available so far.

The company said some testers of the beta version were enthusiastic. "I think the key differentiator of Liferay Screens compared to other mobile solutions in the market is the focus on native," said Nazaret Helices Perez, mobile developer at Near Technologies. "Working with native technologies is a must when you want to deliver high-quality, high-performance apps. Liferay Screens greatly facilitated this for our Liferay projects."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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