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Give the dog a Plone Dominic Hiles Kieren Pitts Introduction Who are we? What is Plone? Implementing the Plone CMS Plone pitfalls Summary ILRT Unique combination of projects, services and research with national and international reputation 75-80 Staff

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Give the dog a plone l.jpg

Give the dog a Plone

Dominic Hiles

Kieren Pitts

Introduction l.jpg

  • Who are we?

  • What is Plone?

  • Implementing the Plone CMS

  • Plone pitfalls

  • Summary

Slide3 l.jpg

  • Unique combination of projects, services and research with national and international reputation

  • 75-80 Staff

  • Semantic Web – RDF, XML, RSS and more

  • Elearning – Biz/ed, LTSN, LTSS

  • Digital Images – TASi, Biomed

  • Digital Libraries Portals – SOSIG, Regard, Subject Portals

  • Internet Development (ID)

Who are we l.jpg
Who are we?

  • Dominic Hiles

    • Web developer

    • Background in information systems design

  • Kieren Pitts

    • Senior Technical Researcher

    • Web development

    • Previously a research biologist

Internet development id group l.jpg
Internet Development (ID) group

  • 10+ staff: usability engineers, designers, developers (plus other ILRT staff)

  • Consultancy unit – academic and public sectors

  • Web sites, eLearning tools, car-share software, survey software, content management systems

  • Usability reviews, testing, technical reviews

Clients 2002 04 l.jpg

University of Bristol (40-50%)

48 Universities using CROS

5 Universities using BOS

Bristol City Council, Temple Quay companies, NHS, Ford UK, Oxford Universities, Swansea (234car)

University of Southampton (BOPCRIS)


HEFCE – Good Management Practice



Church of England

Institute for Fiscal Studies

Environment Agency


JISC Assist

Children’s Society

West Yorkshire Archive Service

National Maritime Museum

CILIP, BIOME, BECTA, DLTR, LTSN centres and more…

Clients (2002-04)

What is plone l.jpg
What is Plone?

  • A Content Management System (CMS)

  • Version 2 released Easter 2004

  • Built on Zope…

    • An open-source Web application server

    • Written in Python (also used in Google!)

  • …and CMF

    • Content Management Framework

    • Arguably, a "bare bones" CMS implementation

The plone environment l.jpg
The Plone Environment

Optional Web server (e.g. Apache)

Web application




Plone features l.jpg

Open source

TTW management


Extensible workflow system

Accessible GUI

Search engine

WYSIWYG or external XHTML editing

Effective and expiration dates for content

Pluggable user management

External RDBMS Connectivity

Automated RSS feeds

Platform independent

Plone features

Why plone l.jpg
Why Plone?

  • Open Source

  • Free!

  • Feature rich - good fit with user requirements

  • Experience with Zope

  • Platform independent

The projects l.jpg
The Projects


    • Business Education Support Team is the Business, Management and Accountancy subject centre of the Higher Education Academy

    • A "new" site

  • Church of England

    • Migrating an existing site

    • 2000 static HTML pages

    • 350 images, 450 "text" files

    • 4 ASP Web applications, serving data from around 20,000 database records, held in 4 different databases

Skins l.jpg

  • Fundamental Plone concept

  • Separate views on the same content

  • Advantages

    • Avoids compromising site design for site administration ("My Plone")

    • Usable, accessible (WAI AA) administrative interface already written and extensively researched/tested => reduced total cost of ownership

    • Allows developer to customise different aspects of functionality separately

Content maintenance l.jpg
Content maintenance

  • Create the businessroles – what should people be able to do to the content?

  • Create the workflow – provides the mechanism to underpin these roles

Content maintenance roles l.jpg
Content maintenance - roles

  • What should content maintainers be able to do with the content?

    • Create and edit content?

    • Review and Publish content?

    • Remove content?

  • Where on your site should they able to do it?

    • The whole site…

    • ...or just specified areas?

Content maintenance roles 2 l.jpg
Content maintenance – roles (2)

  • Managing the roles

    • Groups are created and named according to a folder-dependant role

      • e.g. info_editors (editors of the info folder)

    • Users are placed in group(s) according to their role(s) in a given content area

    • Roles can also be created that allow users to manage other users

Content maintenance workflow l.jpg
Content maintenance - workflow

  • The process underlying the business roles

  • Can be simple…

    • All content is automatically published when saved or edited

  • …or complex

    • Content must be reviewed before publishing

    • Can be versioned and later retrieved or reverted

Slide21 l.jpg














Content migration l.jpg
Content migration

  • Import of HTML and file objects (e.g. PDFs, Images)

    • Opportunity to migrate HTML to valid XHTML

    • Import process can be semi-automated

  • Plone can connect to and display data from most existing RDBMS

  • It may be better to import these data as Plone "objects"

    • e.g. "Churches for Sale" database

  • Content extractable = exit strategy

Content editing l.jpg
Content editing

  • TTW WYSIWYG editor

    • Kupu supplied as standard

    • edit-On Pro provides different feature set

  • External editor (e.g. Dreamweaver)

  • Editing (X)HTML source

  • Upload new (X)HTML source

Edit on pro in action l.jpg
edit-On Pro in action

So it s all rosy not quite l.jpg
So, it's all rosy - not quite…

  • Out the box, there's only one content role

    • Plone evolved from a community-orientated portal

    • No concept of business "ownership" – content "owned" by creator

  • Designing a collaborative workflow is hard – 40% of development time for Church of England

  • No Versioning or Revisioning

    • We wrote our own…but lots now appearing

  • No deletion management (cf. Windows Recycle Bin)

    • Again, we wrote our own

So it s all rosy 2 l.jpg
So, it's all rosy (2) ?

  • User management

    • Devolving user management to non-developers not possible by default

    • Relatively easy to extend Plone to allow this

    • 3rd Party Product (CMFMember) also available to facilitate this

  • Content migration

    • Again, no tools "out the box"

    • Migration to accessible XHTML invariably requires some manual work

So it s all rosy 3 l.jpg
So, it's all rosy (3) ?

  • Maintenance

    • Our development overlapped Plone 2 release cycle – not good!

    • Product testing required with each new Plone release

    • Writing reusable code can cause problems

    • Some issues ameliorated by appropriate use of CVS

Summary l.jpg

  • Skins – different views on the same content

  • Roles – control what people can do and where

  • User management – allocate roles

  • Workflow - mechanism underpinning the roles

  • Content migration

  • Content editing

Discussion l.jpg


Slides available at:


[email protected]

[email protected]