generic setup vs portal_quickinstaller

As a Plone themer who tries desperately to stay on top of the ‘new and improved’ best practices (always changing) I’ve a question to ask the Plone community as a whole.

Those of us to create themes for clients, should we be concerned about using generic setup for more than just exporting an actions.xml file and including it in our theme? I realize that uninstall profiles are key as well. Anything we should be concerned about in relation to generic setup when creating our theme products?

Right now, I’m teaching students to make changes in the zmi, then go to portal_setup and export the actions.xml (for example) and include the exported actions.xml in their /profiles/default directory in their skin product. Is this wrong?

Thank You!

Why does Plone theming hurt so good

It’s Wednesday morning and I haven’t even had my coffee yet and the second thought in my mind is my Plone filled day ahead (the first thought being is there anymore Frosted Flakes left and did the kids eat it all).

There are days, like today, where I wonder to myself why, after nearly 9 years, I’m still building Plone sites. Plone is still hard, but it is getting easier, or so I’m told. Am I a masochist maybe? Is the strength and pull of the Plone community so strong that even though my common sense says run, run far away and never look back, I still sit here day after day creating Plone themes? Maybe it IS Stockholm syndrome after all. I’ve been at the mercy of Plone’s multiple changes and increasingly more difficult theming story for a long time. Granted, I stay on top of “what is coming next” and know much of this ‘pain’ will go away with Plone 4. Or will it?

After all I am a designer, not a programmer. And yet I spend 99% of my time in code. Don’t even get me started on viewlet modification! Plone has so many awesome features, my clients love Plone because I love Plone. My clients see through my eyes, voice and actions that Plone is the right tool for their project. It is, really. Why does it hurt so much to make it pretty! Why do I love that it hurts so much? What am I going to do with myself when Plone has reached the point where theming is easy!? I can’t bear the thought.

I have tried to leave, to pull myself away from this project that has such a hold on me. It’s not easy. Plone is just so charming when you do what it tells you to do. Cross Plone and you’ll see, it can throw a nasty little traceback at you without giving it a second thought. Oh Plone what shall I do, I know I should leave you but I can’t. Plone you make me crazy, but you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

/* heading to the kitchen for coffee and mumbling something about interfaces and zcml */

What would I do if I wasn’t in IT?

Andy McKay asks, “If you were going to throw in the chips on an IT career, what would you do?

Entertain. I’d get into voice over work or television in some capacity.

Prior to my kids and the necessity to make a decent living and support a half-a-dozen human beings I loved community theater. I was a singer, dancer, comedic actor but only locally ;-). I even took a 9 month course on becoming a dj (during the commercials on an 8-track tape era). I was told (by one instructor) after I’d paid the big bucks to take the course that I’d never make it in the radio business because I sounded too much like a female version of Mr.Rogers. So what is wrong with sounding like a sweet compassionate lady? huh? Guess if my speaking voice sounded more like Grace Slick or Stevie Nicks I might have been more successful. Although my favorite part of the entire course was the splicing and combining reel-to-reels to create commercials and song mixes. It’s been 22 years since I took that course. Time flies.

I never had the usual dream of going to hollywood to become an actress (had a girlfriend go to hollywood to ‘make it big” and come back within 60 days totally dejected, poor baby) I still love singing but my foray into the technology field has made it really tough to make time for my first love, performing.

Working on a computer and doing all the ‘research’ required to stay ‘current’ has pretty much planted my rather ample behind in this chair permanently! As I’ve gotten older and wiser there are a lot more demands on my time in front of the computer. I sit here a lot more. It’s hard to get motivated to take a walk or go outside when there are 25 tabs in my firefox, each with something I really wanted to learn. My chosen technology, Plone, is not easy to learn and always changing and it takes me longer than most to grasp some of the concepts so I read and experiment sometimes for hours on end.

My kids are all pretty much grown. When they were little I chased after their active little selves and walked them back and forth to school and took them to the park. I was healthy and got a lot of sun (even though I looked like a little lobster all summer, I thrived in that sun and just felt vibrant and alive). Now my kids don’t want to be seen with their, “moOOmm” anymore so I don’t HAVE to go anywhere. Heck I can order anything I want online!!

I often fantasize about making it big in technology then quitting the industry and becoming one of those actors/actresses who started in the entertainment industry really late in life. I mean you have to have a grandma or mean old lady in every show right? (not sure I could pull off mean, but that’d be the ultimate in acting prowess)

I love what I do right now, but no it wasn’t my first choice. Though my foray into online training is giving me the opportunity to utilize my voice and personality to help others learn my favorite technology, Plone.

C2E Training Online Update

Update on planned sessions for C2E Training Online

Our 4 hour sessions, designed to help get you started with customizing/using Plone.

C2E Training Online: CSS for Plone – Beginner
April 28, 2009 – 8am – Noon (Pacific)

C2E Training Online: Plone for Content Managers
April 29, 2009 – 8am – Noon (Pacific)

C2E Training Online: CSS for Plone – Advanced
April 30, 2009 – 8am – noon (Pacific)

C2E Training Online: Viewlet Mastery
May 12, 2009 – 8am – Noon (Pacific)

**3- day class, 4 hours each day**

C2E Training Online: Plone 3 Themes and Custom Views

May 5, 2009 – May 8, 2009 from 8am – 12pm pacific daily

(Register for this class by April 24, 2009 and you’ll be entered in a drawing for 1 of 2 copies of Veda Willams’ Plone 3 Theming book (coming out in May)

ATTENTION: This class is online and does not require travel.

This online class will be a workshop. Be prepared with a design you want to convert to Plone. We will start with a photoshop file or a design that you need to convert to Plone (can be an existent website with no photoshop file). We will setup Plone on our system together and create a filesystem theme product (installing and using buildout).

Topics we will cover:

  • Installing Plone (Unified Installer)
  • Creating a file system product with paster
  • Preparing our development environment for skinning
  • Learning the directory structure of your new Plone theme product (what goes where)
  • CSS for Plone
  • Best practices for Plone theme development
  • Working with Viewlets and viewlet managers (adding/hiding/moving)
  • Learn how to customize through the zmi and export to your skin
  • Adding styles to Kupu
  • Working with portlets and portlet managers
  • Dealing with cross browser issues

I’m limiting the actual class size to 20 people but will make a recording of the class available after the session for those who are visual learners and have an extremely busy schedule and want to view the course on their own time. (fee for recording is the same as the class) – email me if you want a recording of the class.

The class will be a combination of lecture and hands-on.

Until April 24 the fee for this online class is only $200 – after April 24th it will be $300.

(I usually hold an optional follow up session for students about 2 weeks later to see how everyone is faring with their new design and answer any questions that come up)

Feel free to email me with any questions. Hope to see you there!