Liferay Symposium North America 2016 - Tuesday's Live Blog

Welcome to the Liferay Symposium North America 2016 Live Blog! If you've never followed one of these live blogs before, the content runs in reverse chronological order so that people following live can just refresh the page and see the latest on top.

Presentation slides will be available in about two weeks (as of 9/27/16). Check

(Looking for Monday's blog? Here you go!)


That's it! Thanks for following along. For those of you who made it out to Chicago, safe travels home and we hope to see you next year!

4:00pm - Closing Keynote - Bryan Cheung, Liferay

Henry Nakamura started the final session with the raffle drawing for the exhibit hall gameboards. Attendees won an Apple Watch and an Amazon Echo.

After, Bryan Cheung came up to close out the event. He brought up a Liferay employee, Sam (founder of Rahab's Daughters) and Darnesha (a survivor of human trafficking), to share about their experiences.

As a survivor of human trafficking, Sam started Rahab's Daughters to provide holistic help to survivors that lets them see a life after being trafficked. The team at Rahab's Daughters goes out on the streets of Chicago every week to try and build relationships with victims, so that they can see that the organization is trustworthy. They also have a safehouse that provides shelter to the women they help.

Darnesha hopes to study Psychology so that she can help others, the way that Sam has helped her. She shared that she wants to teach girls that nothing can hold them back, and they have the ability to do anything they set their minds to. 

The backpacks that we collected and filled during Symposium will be given to the women who come to Rahab's Daughters. When rescued, survivors usually leave all their possessions behind. We can tangibly care for these women during their new start by providing backpacks filled with toiletries and other necessities.

You can learn more about Rahab's Daughters and how to help stop human trafficking at their website:

3:20pm - Digital Transformation in Government, Glenn Saler, Liferay

Glenn Saler shared about Liferay's work with US government agencies and its partnership with Carahsoft, a technology solutions provider for government. Carahsoft is a GSA Schedule holder for Liferay and an open source catalyst that has experience providing resources that help agencies navigate open source communities for the first time.


- Government agencies at every level have received mandates to go digital and innovate new ways to serve its citizens. Use cases for Liferay in government include video based military training, HR and military career portals, post graduate studies portals, energy information, support of space exploration, grant tracking, informational websites, public services, cyber investigations and collaborative workspaces.

- Liferay DXP capabilities:

  • Providing a modern, unified platform to deliver digital services
  • Aiding digital transformation through tools that facilitate government work for employees
  • Benchmarked as one of the industry's most secure platforms

Case Studies:

  • Illinois Student Assistance Commission - ISAC runs two portals on Liferay, one for students and one for employees to collaborate with universities. They manage the grant process for the state of Illinois and facilitate the process of making college more affordable to students (read more here).
  • - Liferay enabled to integrate 17 different legacy solutions into one platform and streamline the search functionality. Most importantly, they were able to implement the new project in only 6 months (read more here).
  • - Alex Kim, one of the implementers from SSAI for this project, shared about The GLOBE Program is a worldwide organization that encourages students to get excited about earth science. Schools organize projects to measure the temperature, look at clouds, measure rainfall, etc. and students are able to upload their work to the site. Currently, the website supports over 30,000 organizations and over 100,000 monthly visitors (read more here).

  • Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs & Health - There has been wide adoption of Liferay throughout the Finnish government. The digital services that the government is building with Liferay reach 5,000,000+ Finnish citizens. For the Ministry of Social Affairs & Health, Arcusys (a Liferay partner) combined 10+ separate governmental organization and campaign sites under one Liferay environment (example case -
  • Online Training Portal for OmaKanta - The Finnish government is also pushing for a national centralized health record system, called OmaKanta. This change requires training 200,000+ health care professionals throughout Finland to use the new digital system. The OmaKanta training solution was built on Liferay and Valamis and significantly lowers training costs. It also makes it easier to update training as needed and ensure that the current information is pushed to users immediately.

2:30pm - Case Study: Digitizing Communications Across 1,000+ Coach Stores - Adrienne Sweeney and Madhukar Kakaraparthi, COACH, Inc.

Coach first implemented Liferay in 2012 as the global intranet. Today, they are going to talk about the VM Insights tool, which they created in order to simplify and consolidate communication between Coach stores and the corporate team.


- Coach has become a global company, and its stores are at the heart of its business. As they grow, communication is becoming more challenging. They use too many tools, processes aren't aligned, and in-store employees end up frustrated by solution overload.

- They had one focus: Simplify + Consolidate + Engage

- Visual Merchandising (VM) is a large part of retail. A Visual Merchandiser coordinates the display exhibits in all parts of a retail store. Coach wanted consistency in stores across the globe so that customers always recognize the feel of a Coach store.

- VM is done via high-resolution PDFs distributed to stores as a guide for them to implement. Coach wanted to digitize this process and give store employees a digital tool that shows them the latest guidelines. The corporate headquarters also needed a way to confirm that the stores had been set up according to guidelines, as well as a way to respond to any questions or challenges that come up.

Before Liferay:

With Liferay, Coach was able to:

  • Consolidate 11 regional tools onto 1 global platform.
  • Stop printing and mailing VM PDFs, which saved 1.4 million sheets of paper and over $500,000 annually.
  • Create one global process with two-way collaboration between corporate and stores across geographies.
  • Design a visually appealing and useful site for their employees (This is the VM team, after all. The final tool needed to be beautiful to match their high standards).

Project Highlights:

  • Built on Liferay 6.2
  • 6 month implementation time
  • Currently have a Liferay DXP proof of concept in progress to see where they can take the tool next

VM Insights: How It Works

  • Stores can access guidelines from the homepage, as well as search to find them quickly. A doc previewer makes it faster to view documents, which was previously a problem due to slow network connections within stores.
  • The out-of-the-box Notifications portlet allows them to alert stores as soon as new guidelines are available, ensuring that communication doesn't fall through the cracks.
  • When the store finishes setting up, they send photos back to corporate, where the VM team reviews and adds comments as needed.


Madhukar also went through a live demo of the tool (using both a laptop and a tablet), showing us a typical workflow for the VM team when they publish new guidelines.

1:50pm - Enhanced Theming With Lexicon - Rob Frampton, Liferay

Rob Frampton is a front-end developer at Liferay and works on many of our theming tools, including Liferay Lexicon.

What is Lexicon?

- Lexicon is Liferay's "Experience Language". You can think of it as style guidelines used to design Liferay DXP's components.

- Lexicon is built on top of Bootstrap, extending its current components and adding new ones.

Theme Architecture

- Any theme in Liferay begins with an unstyled theme. It will deploy, but the Lexicon files aren't implemented. 

- When a styled theme is deployed, it saves over the unstyled theme and replaces the CSS so that the page is now usable, rather than static HTML.

- On top of that, you can write a custom theme that will overwrite any files in Bootstrap and Lexicon as needed. This is an incredibly powerful tool that makes Liferay endlessly customizable.

Leveraging Taglibs

- Taglibs are reusable tags that exist within Liferay DXP. These render Lexicon markup, so that you don't need to look up documentation to implement Lexicon components. 

Customizing Lexicon

- Lexicon allows customization for the core styling, meaning that you can change how Bootstrap and Lexicon look without writing new stylers (I have to admit, this talk is a little over my head, but I think I wrote this statement down verbatim).

Here are some examples of what you can accomplish with only a few changes to variables. The developers for Lexicon have tried to make variables for everything you might want to change in different components, hopefully making it easy for you to customize your site design as much as you want.



In Liferay DXP, when you're designing your theme, you're really styling for Lexicon. But no one wants to spend hours digging through source files and trying to see all the variables they can change... which is why Rob built the Lexicon Customizer.

Components are on the left and Variables are on the right.  Below the Lexicon and Bootstrap elements, you can edit components and see the effect in the Preview pane in the middle. In the slide above, you can see how Rob was able to bring up a color picker to change the look of the green alert. When you're done, export the code and you're good to go (you can see the menu to do this in the top right corner, the three white dots). Rob also walked the group through a couple different workflows for deploying any changes you make.

You can download the Lexicon Customizer at

1:10pm - Must-Have Strategies for Your Website Redesign (Lessons From the Upgrade) - Ryan Schuhler, Liferay

What decisions do you need to make for the upgrade process? What challenges will you run into? Using as a case study, Ryan Schuhler went through lessons our Web Team learned during the upgrade from Liferay 6.1 to 6.2.


- You should consider upgrading or redesigning if:

  • Your site feels dated
  • Your users get lost or feel confused on the site
  • Your site pages feel inconsistent
  • Every time you need a new page, it feels like you're creating everything from scratch. Site redesign isn't just for end users. It also benefits those who are in charge of upkeep.

- Pros:

  • New features
  • Improvement (especially as Liferay continues to add more functionality in new versions)

- Cons:

  • Cost (Time, money and resources)
  • Change (It's difficult to get people excited about better UX, because it means that their process will need to change)

- Stories from, including our process, planning and implementation:

  • Ryan shared how the team created a new design for features pages, but wasn't able to implement it until the upgrade. Lesson learned: you need to balance your current work alongside the upgrade. In this case, the team found a way to create a similar page style on the old version of the website, so that they could get the new design live immediately.
  • One goal for the new site was to funnel and focus our users during their interactions with our websites. This formed the basis of the navigation redesign. Lesson learned: Set limits for navigation ahead of time, so that the site remains manageable in the future. For, they decided to make navigation no more than 3 levels deep.
  • No matter what, if you're using custom portlets, you'll need to update them when you upgrade to a new Liferay version. The Liferay team had an extra layer of complexity because the new website was being developed on a new instance. Lesson learned: Migrate portlets in chunks. First do the minimum amount of work necessary and delay the rest until things are more stable.
  • When the Web Team created a new instance, they created a number of new subdomains. However, they forgot to take into account how this would affect SEO until our SEO analyst brought up the issue to the developers. Lesson learned: work with your SEO analyst to ensure that your upgrade process doesn't tank your SEO.

- Three things to keep in mind:

  • Incrementally improve
  • Think about User Experience
  • Remember SEO

12:50pm - Lunch

Another day, another lunch! This is your last chance to look at exhibits from our sponsors, participate in the charity activity and get your gameboard stickers.

It takes less than a minute to stuff a backpack with supplies. We're almost at 200. Help us fill the last few backpacks we have!


If you finished filling your gameboards, you can drop them off at the Registration desk. Deadline is 2pm!

11:55 am - Liferay Pulse Awards

Presented by Henry Nakamura

Best B2B Digital Experience - Murata Manufacturing

Best Intranet Experience - Domino's Pizza

Best Omnichannel Experience - AvMed 

Best Overall Digital Transformation - Volkswagen Group of America

Congratulations, everyone!

11:10 am - Liferay Product Roadmap

Our VP of Product Management, Ed Chung, is sharing about the changes in Liferay DXP and our roadmap going forward. Exciting stuff – join us next year so you don't miss out!

11:00 am - Liferay Pulse Awards

Every year, we enjoy taking the time to acknowledge our community contributors with our Liferay Pulse Awards. Jamie Sammons presented both our Community Excellence Award and our Individual Contributors of the Year. These are awarded based on number of blog posts, code contributions, new applications added to Liferay Marketplace and forum participation.

2016 Community Excellence Award Winners

2016 Individual Contributors of the Year

(I'm not sure why this photo is glowing. I'm guessing it's because our contributors are truly that amazing.)

10:20 am - Guest Keynote: Why Customer Experience? What Should Digital Leaders About it? - Mark Grannan, Forrester Research

Mark Grannan works as an analyst for Forrester Research with AD&D professionals, helping them understand customer experience and how it can benefit their business.

What is Customer Experience?

- Forrester's CX Index measures effectiveness, ease and emotion of customer experience. These three qualities contribute to customer loyalty, which is built on retention, enrichment and advocacy. Using this index, Forrester is able to measure the quality of customer experience today.

- This slide makes it clear that investing in CX and doing well has huge advantages to your business.

- However, companies in the "Leaders" category have gone out of business in the past ten years, and companies in the "Laggards" category have had great success. There are external factors at play that make it very difficult to measure the true impact of customer experience.

- The question we need to ask is, Does customer experience really drive revenue growth?

- It's easier to find a clear picture when you compare competitors within the same industry:

- This even applies overseas. TalkTalk is a UK equivalent of Comcast and had a data breach that affected customer experience.

- What does this mean for you? What can you do with this information?

  • Map yourself and competitors (see the Apollo Education Group case study from Monday's live blog)
  • Honestly assess your potential (How does your company make money today? Can your company enable experimentation around CX?)
  • Craft your CX strategy (Break from the pack, dominate a segment, ride the disruption)

- How do you use Customer Experience to move my Digital Experience agenda forward? 

  • Look at every step of a customer's journey. We talked about this during our final session yesterday on the need for a holistic customer lifecycle dashboard. The goal today is to optimize the journey, not individual touchpoints. Yes, individual touchpoints need to be excellent, but everything needs to contribute to the overall customer experience.

- The return of the Bell Curve:

- Adopters and Collaborators make up the bulk of the market today. Differentiators – those who are creating new digital products – are still rare. It's hard to create new products and still pay attention to the rest of your business. Companies need to master both sides of digital – Digital Customer Experience and Digital Operational Excellence.

Three Key Takeaways:

- Remember the three "e's" of Customer Experience: Effectiveness, Ease and Emotion.

- Customer Experience is linked to revenue when customers have options and there is Customer Experience differentiation in a market.

- Customer Experience + Digital Operational Experience = "How" to move Digital Experience forward.

9:40 am - Building Deeper Customer Relationships With Audience Targeting - Evan Thibodeau, Liferay

Personalization matters. When experiences are personalized for us, they are transformed into more engaging moments that we remember.


- Audience Targeting allows you to segment users in order to cater content to them according to their activity and identity. Each user is unique, and segmentation allows you to deliver more personalized experiences.

- Campaigns allow you to apply priority, start and end dates, as well as custom reports to your user segments. These three things together – Audience Targeting, Segmentation and Campaigns – give you the ability to control personalized experiences for your customers.

Retail Demo: Finer Cloth (a fictitious brand)

We followed one user, Ray, through his full customer journey with Finer Cloth. Here are the highlights of the demo:

First visit to the website, when we don't yet know anything about Ray. For now, the site shows both men's and women's clothing.

After signing up, we gain some information about Ray and are able to show him a new home page, filled with items that he is most likely to be interested in.

Ray ignores our fall campaign for socks and starts looking at suits instead. Because he is signed in, we're able to track that information and show him this page the next time he visits the website:

But that isn't where the journey ends! We've been talking the past two days about getting to the heart of customer experience, and that goes beyond the initial purchase. What else can we offer Ray? How can we continue to deliver personalized experiences that match his interests and needs?

Evan also showed us how an admin can create these kinds of experiences with Liferay's Audience Targeting module. If you followed along with yesterday's QAD case study, you already saw a short preview of how this works. The retail example may be familiar to you, but examples like QAD show that Audience Targeting is useful for many situations. Think of a typical intranet: the majority of content is irrelevant to the majority of users, because it isn't personalized to their role within the company. That's where audience targeting can help, by serving up the relevant content as needed based on audience segments.

9:00 am - Create Once, Use Everywhere: Maximizing Your Content in Mobile - Javier Gamarra, Liferay

Javier Gamarra works in Liferay's Madrid office and is a Senior Software Engineer working on Liferay Screens. The goal of Screens is to create a single source publishing tool, one CMS for all app and web channels. Javier shared in-depth examples of the new features in Liferay Screens 2.0. If you like to see the technical details of how Liferay Screens does what it does, this session is definitely one to review on the Recap site.


- Content is king. Users today expect to be able to access content everywhere, in every form and at anytime. Millennials in particular have broken the traditional loyalty loop, and now want content to be personalized to every form factor.

- Because of new connected devices, today is a wonderful time to be alive, but a huge pain for developers. We need to find ways to create content once and use it everywhere, in order to save time. Javier explained that this is called COPE = Create Once, Publish Everywhere.

- How to COPE?

  • Separate content from display
  • Ensure content modularity and portability
  • Build Content Management Systems, not WPT. You should have the ability to present content in any format at any time.
  • Build digital experiences across web, mobile and connected devices in order to meet customer expectations.

- New Features in Liferay Screens 2.0 (this is just a quick preview – Javier went through a lot of material!)

  • Objective for screens is easing the development for native applications.
  • Asset Display
  • Gallery that can expose new views with same content
  • Reusable code between apps
  • Structured content
  • New themes to apply to apps

8:50 am

Good morning! Grab your coffee and settle in, because we have another full day of great sessions to looks forward to. We should be starting in a few minutes.

Write a blog post too!

Write a deep dive into how you use Liferay projects in your technology stack. Or let people know useful tips and tricks for a particular functionality. The Liferay community needs you!

Login or Create an account