What Plone means to me (and my clients)

My partner and I are participating in the Plone Strategic Planning Summit on Friday.
As we head in to 3 days of heavy discussion and yummy Google food… I thought I’d take a few minutes to provide a high-level view of what Plone means to myself and my client base.. (please keep in mind this is a brain dump if any statements are inaccurate..it’s because this is what I understand right now.. I can most certainly be reeducated)When we started working with Plone in 2001.. we started because Plone was touted as a CMS. OH look.. we can create this page template and our client can log in and update their own content with this neat little WYSIWYG (at the time it was epoz). Epoz was Plone to our clients.

Flash forward 6 years later.. different clients … and Kupu is Plone (or FckEditor for our clients who opted for that) to our clients. But does that make Plone a CMS? We don’t think so.. that just means that Plone is providing one of the key features requested. A browser based WYSIWYG is an expectation now.. not a “gee whiz” component like it was 7 years ago. The ability to add folders, images, documents.. is an expectation. Does Plone manage content well… it depends on who you ask. For the medium sized company that doesn’t have 100,000+ documents to process and archive.. it does just fine.. but do we really want to stay in the CMS-only arena.. ?

90% of our implementations are intranets and extranets with custom applications built on top with AZAX and Python.

In 2001 our client base was small business brochureware sites and Plone was just too much for that even back then. The attraction, giving control of the content to the website owner. So yes, in 2001, I would have called Plone a CMS.. today… 7 years later.. Plone has evolved into a whole nother beast. It’s a framework… a base for creation of online environments that allow business to be conducted in a centrally accessible secure location.
I always appreciated the “modularity” of Plone.. the ability to add and take away components as needed. We either integrate everything that’s needed for a quickly running ootb experience… including Varnish or Squid preconfigured.. or keep Plone “Core” ..clean, light and modular…and allow the users to add what they want.. Our biggest complaints from clients are performance .. “but our other site wasn’t this slow” and to that I usually say ” but you didn’t have membership or security..” That doesn’t always work.. especially when their competitor is lightning fast and has membership (don’t know about security). I know there is someone out there saying, “then don’t use Plone”. Why shouldn’t we? We are primarily a Plone shop only because 90% of our calls are for Plone.

Example of a call from potential client:

“Hi, I’m Joe from Medium Size Company here in the Bay Area, we did a bunch of research on possible applications for our corporate intranet. We have narrowed it down to Sharepoint or Plone, what can you tell me about Plone?”

From here we launch into, “What features do you need.. etc etc” and usually Plone fits really well… and then they ask,
“During our research we ran into a lot of discussion about Plone performance issues, can you respond?”

From here we launch into, ” Plone isn’t slow, it does a lot (thanks Joel Burton)” and we explain how, we optimize our sites using Varnish, etc.

We don’t get, “Hi, we need a website where we can update our content without paying a webmaster” – that is the kind of call we received in 2001…

As was mentioned by Chris McDonough. We never use Plone as is..it is always customized and always requires development because each and every client has their own vision of the “right” way to setup their online process. Telling clients to “change their way” of doing business to suit the application.. (well you’ve heard what they’ve said about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole). Having the capability to meet the clients needs… and be able to utilize all the strengths of both zope and plone.. that would be ideal.
The calls we get these days are for intranet installations.. and non-profit community sites (where they want levels of access). We turn away brochureware.. send them to Joomla.. do we really want to be a CMS or a high quality intranet/extranet/corporate framework for building any application required? Plone is just too feature packed to limit itself to advertising “one” main feature of the framework.

We are looking forward to getting together with the other 48 participants of this summit. Our goal is to learn more about how the “other side” thinks.. we are integrators….we have the day-to-day interaction with our clients.. we build applications for clients based on the code base provided by the hard working core development team… and maybe… we’ve been wrong all this time and need to readjust our idea of what Plone is….we just need to know.

Plone is just one of many tools we use to build rich internet applications.. but we love Plone (and the community) so while we sit amongst other Plone type people we will absorb(listen) and contribute(engage) in an activity that is unprecedented in the Open Source industry. How exciting is that..!?

Resources for Plone designers

So you heard me lamenting not that long ago about the unfairness of the new “way” to theme a Plone site (Plone 3.0). How those of us who are integrators were feeling the sting of being “left behind”.

As time is passing I’m warming up to the ideas presented and trying my hardest to assimilate myself into this new “process” as much as possible. I owe it to my clients. That said.. I’m always on the look out for resources to help those of us who don’t dream in code learn how to make Plone look pretty (or at least match our clients look & feel).

So about a month ago one of the regulars on IRC , RobZoneNet, posted his theming write up to the channel and I, being curious, went on over and took a look.

Rob has provided an excellent write up for those of us who don’t need to know about adaptercomponenttypethingiesontuesday…


Beautiful! I have this baby printed out and stuck on my wall with a bright red thumbtack…talk about valuable!

Oh and to top it off.. Rob is working on another one..


Wanna learn more about TAL or how to customize the Plone favicon.. go here

(most of these were written by Rob)

Granted..one must always check Plone.org for the latest in documentation.. but keep these links bookmarked because I guarantee you.. these will be dog eared in no time.

Doccomm Sprint – Day 4

It was a quiet day on the ecommerce side today… payment processors, administrative screens and viewlets were being hacked away at while documentation for GetPaid was starting to develop.

The highlight of the day was a walk from our sprinting headquarters to the main GooglePlex for lunch with Alexander Limi.. Weather was gorgeous ..
See new pictures at http://www.flickr.com (tags: doccomm sprint plone)

Documentation team announced.. “this half of the wall is done! woohooo” (refer back to the card sorting posts over the last day or two).

All in all the day was productive… as a sponsor, an organizer and participant.. I have to say.. Go Plone! you rock…

Doccom Sprint – Day 1 recap

Getting ready for Day 2 of the Doccom Sprint at Google in Mountain View and sitting here reflecting on our first day of sprinting.Google was gracious in providing us a space to sprint. The weather here has been gorgeous as usual. California in June is the best place to be.. (I’m prejudiced of course.. ). The vegetarian sandwich at lunchtime was sublime, as were the homemade chocolate chip cookies.

We started the day with a round of introductions and then split up into two groups.. “GetPaid” and “The Doc Side” (a la Erik Rose’s “come on over to the doc side”)

The documentation team created a circle of chairs and leaned in to discuss some hardcore doc issues as the “GetPaid” team assessed the tasks needing to be done.. and who wanted to tackle what.. After a bit they broke out and started doing what they do best..

In the end we had a group of five or so guys working on unit tests (Dave Fowler (GSoC student), Eric Steele, David Brenneman, Brian Gershon, David Siedband (siebo).

Bill Schindler (bitranch) and Stephen Hindle (mech422) will be working on thecheckout wizard with Kapil T (hazmat)

Chris Johnson (cjj), Veda (vedawns) and myself are working on the UI aspect of the GetPaid system.

I had some “battery” issues with my camera but I was able to grab a few pictures


and one movie at the Welcome Dinner.. Francis Ford Coppola I am not..