Social Apps Proxy – Winning app in the Liferay Marketplace App Contest

MPAC-Winner-Badge-White-2Last month I entered and won this year’s Liferay Marketplace apps contest with my latest Liferay Portal app! There were some really good entries and it must have been a tough contest to call. Social Apps Proxy was my entry. It’s an app for drastically simplifying the building of other Liferay Portal apps that need to integrate with the social graph of its users. For example it can be used to retrieve recent mentions of the user on Twitter. That’s about 10 lines of code to achieve, and the full source code for this can be found here.

Social Apps proxy can be downloaded here.

Social Apps Proxy - Now available

Social Apps Proxy – Now available

James Falkner (Liferay community manager) wrote a good blog on the contest results.

In reality I started building the app some time before the contest was announced, because I wanted to combine my knowledge of a few different technologies that I had been working with in recent years. Namely XForms 1.1, OAuth 1.0a, and all things Liferay Portal!

The link to XForms 1.1 may seem obscure, but it was possibly my experience with XForms 1.1 that triggered the idea to build the app in the first place. XForms 1.1 has no native support for consuming OAuth services or parsing JSON data commonly returned by such services. It is however a superb framework for rapidly building complex forms using its model driven approach and excellent support for consuming HTTP services. So the idea was to create a HTTP proxy server which would do all the OAuth and JSON parsing (transforming it to XML) stuff on its behalf without it even being aware! Liferay Portal’s plug-able architecture provided a great opportunity to put a face on the proxy server for easy configuration and deployment. And from a user experience perspective, allowing users to managing their OAuth tokens for a whole website (web domain) hosted on Liferay Portal instead of using something specifically put together for an individual form (or portlet) is going to be more aligned with the user’s expectations of OAuth itself.

Integrating XForms with Liferay Portal is not something I will go into detail with, but Orbeon Forms is the XForms 1.1 implementation I am most familiar with and it comes with out of the box Liferay Portal integration. I’m sure other XForms implementations can also be integrated quite easily and Social Apps Proxy will work with those too!

So does that mean that Social Apps Proxy requires a XForms 1.1 implementation to be useful? Not at all. Any kind of app that can be deployed as a portlet to Liferay Portal can use Social Apps Proxy. Once installed, all portlets will automatically receive a special token as a render request attribute which indirectly links the app to all of the user’s OAuth tokens. Using the special token the app can request any OAuth resource as if it requires no OAuth token. Whenever this requires user authorisation the Social Apps Proxy will provide a special HTTP response with an authorisation URL which the portlet should simply send the user to.

So what’s next?

I’m going to be at a few upcoming Liferay conferences; The North America Symposium, London Solutions Forum, and the DevCon in Germany. It would be great to discuss how Social Apps Proxy could be improved so if you’re going to be at any of those events then great. Or you can simply leave a comment, it would be great to hear from you either way!

References

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Upcoming Liferay meetup in Exeter on 24th June

In recent years I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Liferay Portal open source community. For some time I have felt I should contribute something back beyond proving assistance to other members via message boards and such. For me, in order to participate offiline I have had to do a fair bit of travelling to London, Bristol, Worcestershire, Stockholm and Wiesbaden (Germany). I have enjoyed every meetup, but part of me wishes there was more of a community here in the South West of UK. To hopefully help build this I’ve organised a meetup in Exeter with talks that should be of interest to those with little or no exposure to Liferay Portal as well as the seasoned expert.

You can RSVP for the meetup here. If you intend to come, it is important you RSVP so I can ensure there is enough food and freebies (!) to go around.

To give you a heads up…

Continue reading

17th September Liferay UK User Group meetup in review

September was an interesting month packed full of interesting meet ups and opportunities to put into practice concepts that I have been evolving over the past couple of years. In this post I will cover the Liferay UK User Group (@LiferayUKUG) meet up on the 17th September hosted on LGA (Local Government Association) premises in Westminster (London). Continue reading

Can we assert online identity whilst preserving autonomy and anonymity?

I recently attended #ukgc12 (UK Gov Camp 2012) for the first time. For those who are not familiar with this conference, it’s a gathering of 300-400 individuals with ties to UK central or local government, who want to innovate using technology or debate ethical issues surrounding the use of technology. The conference spanned two days this year: the first day focussing on debate and the second day on workshops.

Although I found all the sessions I attended very inspiring, my personal favourite has to be the debate on “democratic identity” chaired by @curiousc. I found this debate intellectually stimulating because identity management is something I have been interested in from a technical perspective for some time. My focus has been focussed using identity management techniques to help make web applications convenient for users to use, with the belief that this will increase convergence. However, I had never approached it from a democratic perspective before. Continue reading

Are the days of traditional CRM systems numbered?

Historically I have been a advocate of CRM technology. Now I’m no longer sure if it’s going to survive long term; at least not without a radical shift in approach.

Service providers commit a lot of resources into keeping their customer data up to date, so that it can feed into delivering a more streamlined service to the individual, facilitate BI and power campaigns. There appears to now be a realisation that this approach is both expensive and, in reality, ineffective. They’re always playing catch up. Continue reading