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Give the dog a Plone

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  1. Give the dog a Plone Dominic Hiles Kieren Pitts

  2. Introduction • Who are we? • What is Plone? • Implementing the Plone CMS • Plone pitfalls • Summary

  3. ILRT • 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)

  4. Who are we? • Dominic Hiles • Web developer • Background in information systems design • Kieren Pitts • Senior Technical Researcher • Web development • Previously a research biologist

  5. 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

  6. 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) HESDA HEFCE – Good Management Practice UCISA SCONUL Church of England Institute for Fiscal Studies Environment Agency INASP JISC Assist Children’s Society West Yorkshire Archive Service National Maritime Museum CILIP, BIOME, BECTA, DLTR, LTSN centres and more… Clients (2002-04)

  7. 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

  8. The Plone Environment Optional Web server (e.g. Apache) Web application Plone CMF Zope

  9. Open source TTW management XHTML 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

  10. Why Plone? • Open Source • Free! • Feature rich - good fit with user requirements • Experience with Zope • Platform independent

  11. The Projects • LTSN BEST • 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

  12. Real World Plone

  13. Skins • 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

  14. 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

  15. 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?

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. Versioned Submit Pending Publish Retract Revert Reject Private Published Re-edit (copy) Retract Publish

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. edit-On Pro in action

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. Summary • 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

  26. Discussion Slides available at: http://www.ilrt.bris.ac.uk/publications/conf/IWMW2004/plone_slides.ppt Contact: dominic.hiles@bristol.ac.uk kieren.pitts@bristol.ac.uk