Community Portal Development with Educational Features

  • Web-portal with built-in CMS and administration features
  • On demand integration with external applications and payment providers
  • Low cost of the solution due to the use of open source technologies
Web & Enterprise Portals
Content & Document Management
eLearning & Online Training

Education Services Provider hires Iflexion to set up a web portal, which would contain a user module, with the help of which users would be able to register and subscribe to various services, as well as an administration module, which would allow managing user accounts and groups.



The Customer is a specialized provider of IT services for education and communication, also offers additional possibilities for its clients, such as creating online communities to match users’ interests.

To help further expand the customer reach and establish a direct link with its existing and potential clients the Customer was looking for community portal development featuring a user module for users to register and subscribe to various services, as well as an administration module for managing user accounts and groups.


Iflexion proposed to develop a solution based mainly on existing open source components.

The main point was to reuse existing solutions as much as possible for rapid portal development and stability at the same time ensuring user-friendliness, ability to change the portal layout and support of custom UI themes.

A built-in CMS allows the administrator to change static information on the site (like news, advertisements, etc.). The portal supports integration with external systems (via LDAP user database and XML services). It synchronizes its user database with the LDAP server, allowing other solutions to access this information. The external systems include payment providers (VeriSign, PayPal, or PayEx) and an email server.

Business Benefits

  • Lower cost of the solution due to the use of open source technologies
  • Rapid application development, due to reuse of product-like solutions (like Liferay)
  • On demand integration with external applications
  • Simplicity of installation and maintenance
  • Custom look-and-feel

Development Process

Based on the functional requirements stated by the customer we decided to develop the portal as a set of independent JSR-168 portlets, with Liferay as a portlet engine. Community portal development involved other well-known and widely used third-party libraries, which have large and active communities of users that ensure that they are safe and flexible.

The customer had planned to collect a monthly subscription fee, which could be extended automatically or manually (depending on user choice) and we used VeriSign to support the reoccuring transactions. When adding other payment providers, such as PayPal and PayEx, we faced some problems, which were easily resolved by introducing additional scheduled services on the application side for user subscription management.

During the project, a new version of Liferay was released.

The customer wanted the project to migrate to the new version after the start of initial beta-testing, so the development team changed the target platform for the project to Liferay.

System Highlights

  • Account Management Portlet enables users to register in the VoIP network and set up their profiles. They can create groups with a single payment account for a small community of users (e.g., a family).
  • Profile Management Portlet allows users to modify their personal info.
  • Administration Portlet enables the administrator to browse and manage the accounts of single users and groups.
  • Contact Search Portlet allows users to search old contacts and establish new ones.
  • Contact List Portlet enables users to manage their contacts.
  • Communities Portlet enables users to manage their memberships in various communities.
  • Customizable layouts provide the possibility to change the portal layout and color scheme to one of pre-defined templates.


Regarding the technical architecture, community portal development followed a three-tier model.

Three layers of the system are the presentation layer (based on JSP 2.0 pages), the business logic (server side classes, which encapsulate the business rules), and the persistence (database) layer. The use of open source libraries, e.g. Spring and Hibernate, allowed us to develop a fast and stable solution.

The solution is a Web application, with Liferay Portal (for a Web module) and Zimbra (for a Mail module) on the server side. Zimbra is a mail server, which stores users’ mailboxes, routes emails and provides access for back-end users.


The product was developed as a portal, where people can create their own communities or join existing ones. Additionally, it provides access to some educational services provided by the customer and their partners.

We also integrated the portal with three payment providers so the customer is able to process requests for services and collect payments online: the well-known VeriSign and PayPal, as well as PayEx.

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