September 20, 2012 / IST / Science & Technology, Web Development.

Plone is among the top 2% of all open source projects worldwide, with 340 core developers and more than 300 solution providers in 57 countries. The project has been actively developed since 2001, is available in more than 40 languages, and has the best security track record of any major CMS.
It is owned by the Plone Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and is available for all major operating systems.

A powerful, flexible Content Management Solution that is easy to install, use and extend.

Plone lets non-technical people create and maintain information for a public website or an intranet using only a web browser. Plone is easy to understand and use — allowing users to be productive in just half an hour — yet offers a wealth of community-developed add-ons and extensibility to keep meeting your needs for years to come.

Blending the creativity and speed of open source with a technologically advanced Python back-end, Plone offers superior security without sacrificing power or extensibility.

It is based on Python and the Zope libraries, Plone has a technological edge that has has helped it attain the best security track record of any major CMS (Source: CVE). In fact, security is a major reason why many CMS users are switching to Plone.

The market is full of open source content management systems, so it is important to do your homework before choosing one for your organization. Remember that a simple CMS may work out great to start with, but lead to problems with scaling or migration when you need more capability than it can provide. At the other end of the spectrum, a powerful CMS can be so difficult to learn and maintain that it never gains acceptance to users. Make sure the CMS you choose meets your needs today without compromising future growth.

In addition to the basic tasks of authoring, tagging and updating content, a CMS should also support:

  • Separation of content and presentation – Authoring must be style-based to ensure publishing to multiple presentation formats.
  • Easy manipulation of content – Non-technical users should be able to add, edit content with minimal knowledge of technical details.
  • Multi-user authoring – Multiple authors should be able to collaborate and edit content together.
  • Workflow and security – If required, content authoring, tagging and publishing should be subject to a centralized set of business rules. Adequate security levels and audit trails must be in place to protect the integrity of the content.
  • Versioning – Track all modifications to the content.
  • Scheduling – Time sensitive content is displayed based on relevant metadata properties such as publication date, expiration date, and so on.
  • Search and indexing – Contextual content listings based on various metadata properties such as author name, publication date, categories, and so on.

Scalability and Performance

Plone was designed to provide a rich feature set, not speed. However, one can increase Plone’s scalability and performance using many techniques and tools. Some basic techniques to improve Plone’s performance are enabling caching (internally, using Zope or externally, using Squid or Apache), configuring Zope to run in “production” mode versus “debug” mode, and of course, increasing hardware resources (faster processors and more memory). Performance bottlenecks can be identified using profiling tools such as Call Profiler, Page Template Profiler and Python Profiler. Call Profiler is a Zope based tool that analyzes an incoming HTTP request. It lists the objects (e.g., document, image, folder etc.) used and access times for each object. The Page Template Profiler works only for Zope page templates and lists the objects used and access times for each object. The Python Profiler provides low-level timing information for underlying Python code.

On the whole, Plone is a very easy to use environment for all Web sites – small to large. Some great examples of Plone built sites are – the Mars Rover site (mars.telascience.org), Zettai (www.zettai.net), Austrian government (www.oesterreich.at).

Good resources to learn more about Plone are plone.org (of course), Zope (www.zope.org) and books such as Andy McKay’s “The Definitive Guide to Plone” by Apress.

Trying out Plone on some of your organization’s difficult-to-corral data can lead to a more robust and secure content management world for you.

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