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Comment Plone is much more flexible (Score 1) 369

OK, so I'm slightly biased in that I run a company that does predominantly Plone development, but one of our biggest clients uses Confluence to actually project manage the Plone project we are developing for them. So in effect we use both, for different sides of the same coin.

Confluence is quite powerful, and some of the tools for previewing MS Office documents in your browser are pretty good. However where Plone shines is its flexibility. We use Plone ourselves for our own intranet and the great thing is it goes well beyond just storing documents:

* It shows a list of all latest SVN commits from our repository
* There is a shared calendar with SMS alerts, iCal integration, etc
* It integrates with our time tracking software to produce time tracking reports for each project
* There is a wiki on there for ad-hoc knowledge bits
* There is a directory of all our contacts with click-to-dial integration with our desk phones
* All our quotes are 'written' in Plone and converted to PDF to send to the client. It handles all the formatting via Apache FOP
* There are image galleries for both social company photos, and also library of screenshots for quotes, etc.
* Management dashboard with graphs of time spent in the past week on which projects

So whilst Confluence is pretty good, I think you'd be hard pressed to customise it quite to the extent where it really starts to deliver business value by integrating with your actual business processes and other software.

Comment Python - Plone4 in under 3 minutes (Score 2, Informative) 31

If you are a python developer, or at least have python2.6 installed on your system, then check out this lightning talk screencast I did for Europython last week:

Screencast of installing Plone 4

I go from a base python2.6 installed to an installed and running Plone instance in under 3 minutes. Admittedly I had a local egg cache due to the flaky conference wifi, but if you did this without a cache it would do the same, just take a bit longer downloading all of the eggs.

Plone really is the easiest CMS I've ever worked with in terms of deployment and installation (mainly due to the fantastic zc.buildout system). There are also the binary installers for various platforms as well, which will get you up and running in about 15 minutes with just a few clicks.


Comment 10,000 commits last 12 months! (Score 2, Informative) 31

The Plone *core*, ie the main central bit, not including any of the add-ons, or 3rd party integrated parts like the visual editor, or the underlying framework Zope, has had over 10,000 commits to the SVN repo in the past 12 months alone. That is nearly 30 commits a day every day for a year. That is really quite an impressive level of activity for any Open Source project, especially in a fairly niche market (we are talking a large web content management system here, not an operating system).

The number of books being published on Plone recently shows just how many people are using it. And the 8th International Plone Conference ( this year is expected to attract over 400 developers and users from across the world.


Submission + - UK Police retains DNA data despite promise not to->

redalien writes: "In 2008 I invited two policemen into my home and voluntarily gave them a DNA and fingerprint sample to help with a murder investigation, as they'd promised it would only be used for that investigation. I was never under any suspicion and could just as easily have said no. Almost a year after the investigation closed they have now confirmed that they've retained my samples and at my request have begun an investigation to see if there are sufficient "exceptional circumstances" to remove them.

I'm not the only one that was told samples would be removed, so if you've had such a promise from the police I recommend contacting their data protection registrar immediately."

Link to Original Source

Comment R&D Tax Credits in the UK (Score 1) 289

A couple of years ago I went to a seminar by HMRC (Revenue and Customs) on R&D Tax Credits here in the UK. I stood up and asked the speaker how Open Source is seen by HMRC in terms of R&D tax credits. I explained to them that the software we help develop (Plone) is used by numerous public sector organisations in the UK. One of the key criteria for R&D Tax Credits is that you need to own the IP of whatever it is you are developing. I explained to them that our entire business model was based upon us *not* owning the IP of the software we are helping to develop.

I was laughed at. Seriously. The speaker and a good portion of the audience laughed at my ridiculous idea of my business not owning the IP of the software I was developing.

The Plone Foundation recently valued Plone using COCOMO at US$3 million.


Book Reviews

Submission + - Plone 3 for Education->

Reinout writes: "Plone 3 for education, break the webmaster bottleneck by empowering instructors and staff, is a new book for those that want to use Plone in an educational setting. Easy to read, comprehensive and goal-oriented.

The author, Erik Rose works at Penn State University, supporting many educational Plone websites. So his credentials for writing the book are OK.

Target audience: well, you want a website for your course or your university department or your group of teachers. You're able to get your hands on a webserver where you can install Plone. You want multiple people to be able to comfortably update the site without getting stuck on a single webmaster. The book's subtitle rightfully is break the webmaster bottleneck by empowering instructors and staff. You can set up a reliable, functional and professional website yourself without needing to pay tens of thousands of Dollars/Euros/whatever in license fees. You'll need to know about websites in general and you'll need to be reasonably comfortable installing stuff on your own PC and, possibly/probably with someone's help, on a webserver.

Non-educational audiences can get benefit from the book, too. A results-oriented intro on skinning/theming doesn't hurt a small business website. And the calendaring tips are also useful for a church or sports club website. You might want to look up the online table of contents.

Book style: perhaps strange for a technical book, but I'd say it makes you enthousiastic. It shows you how to accomplish things with Plone. How to get specific things things done, as the book is laced with screenshots ("this is what your course page can look like") and direction-giving introductions ("you'll probably need a staff directory, here's what you can accomplish"). The tone is friendly, but with experience-born firmness and personal opinion in some cases.

Overall book impression is very positive. For a technical book it is mercifully thin at some 190 pages compared to the customary 300. Yet it is remarkably complete. You get to set up your site with content, tips on essential add-on products, skinning/theming basics, web server installation and setup instructions and basic maintenance (backup/restore) guidelines. All the basics you really need. If you need more, there are other books.

For more elaborate theming you could pick up Veda William's Plone 3 Theming book and for hard-core development Martin Aspeli's Professional Plone Development.

The first chapter shows you how to get most of the information you need to present for a course done with out-of-the-box Plone. A couple of folders, events for exam dates, agenda items for homework and assignments, some overview pages. And practical advice, for instance on enabling comments: they help invite feedback and increase interaction between students. And with the proper settings, comment spam is virtually non-existant. The chapter has effective screenshots that show what you can accomplish and how to do it. The screenshots are especially handy for Plone's powerful collections ("smart folders" that effectively show search results) as they can be tricky to configure. A screenshot helps a lot in explaining the necessary settings.

The second chapter helps you install the first add-on product with reasonably complete instructions. The add-on helps you show your date and event related information in prettier ways than is possible with stock Plone. The chapter has some side comment on security (group/user rights) setup which deserved a more prominent spot. But where... The book is full of small helpful tips and information, so perhaps such "oh, by the way" sidebars are ok. Also good: the author is not afraid of pinpointing Plone pain points: in this case spotty support for showing recurrences.

A university or school needs a list of faculty/staff. The author and his colleages wrote a specific add-on for this purpose and documented it fully in chapter three. A-z listings, per-department views, per-speciality views. Handy is the documentation on how to best use the various grouping methods (department, speciality, group) and how to connect the staff in this listing with their actual login accounts.

But... every university is different and wants extra fields: a fax number, a building floor, a list of published papers. Plone allows you to extend existing products in a reasonably clean way and chapter 4 shows you how. Watch out, though, as the instructions on how to set up a new site to test your extension misses several steps and uses a program which full installation instructions are only explained in chapter eight. One of the rare real omissions in the book.

Chapter five helps you add blog and forum functionality. There are several add-ons for that. Add-ons mean extra functionality but also extra risk: how well are they maintained? The author helps you with criteria and gives you his own recommendation. Most of the time I agree, but I was a bit surprised at the "PloneBoard" add-on's description of recieving prompt updates all the time: two or three years ago it was a problem child with a poor maintainance record as far as I could see at the time. So take a good look at the current maintenance record of add-ons!

Chapter six has one of those attention-grabbing sentences in the introduction that invite you to really delve into the chapter: "triple your traffic using the iTunes store". And yes, later on it helps you set up podcasting for your audio or video lecture notes with Plone and submit the podcast to iTunes. Which apparently triples the incoming traffic for many educational institutions.

A Plone killer feature is introduced in chapter seven. PloneFormMailer is a fantastic add-on for creating forms without resorting to programming. Almost all sites I deployed when working as a full-time Plone programmer included PloneFormMailer. The author heaps praise on this add-on and he's right. Good point for the book: it shows all the available form field types as small screenshots. That helps when building the forms.

Chapter eight is on theming/skinning/styling your Plone site. Theming is a bit of a pain point in Plone right now. Plone is halfway the easier, but sloppier and harder to debug Plone 2 style of skinning and some incredible (I mean that!) probably-there-in-a-year Plone 5 goodness. And being halfway means confusion, so this is a difficult chapter for a book author. In my opinion, the author has done a good job explaining all the necessary ingredients and the various ways in which you can get your hands on some necessary adjustments of Plone's default style to your organisation's style.

Chapter nine made me say "wow". A solid chapter on deploying your site on the server. Including apache and squid setup and a Plone caching tutorial. Yes, your site needs to be able to stand up agains a whole flock of students hitting your site right after class (or five minutes before the final exam). For educational settings, the tip to look at Enfold proxy to integrate with Windows' IIS server is a good one. One thing that surprised me was to see Squid as a caching proxy: I thought Varnish was the standard by now. At least, it's been at least two years since I last touched Squid.

The last chapter, ten, finishes off the book with some maintentance tasks like backups. Good chapter for yourself or your sysadmin.

All in all: recommended!"

Link to Original Source

Comment Re:okay, so you guys don't like Drupal's security. (Score 1) 219

Plone's security is much higher than Drupal's and most other PHP frameworks. For some stats and analysis see here:

Whilst the analysis will be a bit biased as it is by someone who uses Plone, the stats there are all independent.

Alos both and are Plone sites. Nuff said.


Comment Re:Screw Sharepoint (Score 1) 225

This is why smart people started looking at OODBs a decade ago. Things liek the ZODB have been around for over 10 years now, and newer OODBs like Couch DB are coming onto the block now as well. For general content publishing and file sharing, they make much more sense than an RDBMS.

I don't know why people still use RDBMs for non-relational data. Then wrangle with a ORM on top just for fun. Scrap it. Use an OODB.


"Who cares if it doesn't do anything? It was made with our new Triple-Iso-Bifurcated-Krypton-Gate-MOS process ..."