I was at Plone conference last week in Seattle. There is something about rubbing shoulders with hundreds of developers that keeps your energy level up. People were so engrossed in discussions of content management, configuring and installing portals, hacking Python code and it all seemed so natural. The theme of the conference was Content, Collaboration and Community. All were very much in evidence at the event.
Plone is a content management system and an open source portal framework built on top of Zope. It is written in Python and combines a web server, an application server, a built in object database, a powerful search engine, an awesome component framework and is very, very extensible. It provides support for a wide variety of in-built content types, allows you to define your own content types. The latest version, Zope3 is very component oriented. Plone is a content management and portal layer on top of Zope. Plone makes it easy to use Zope and is very flexible with a skinnable interface. The Plone+Zope combination beats any other portal/cms framework in the industry today.
The beauty of this dynamite combo is that you can install and set up a portal in less than an hour. It is an ideal combination of simplicity, flexibility and power. And it is all free.
The Plone community is very close knit and I heard in the conference that all the Plone consultants are busy with more work than they can handle. I had been to a conference a few years ago in New Orleans. This one is bigger (estimates put it above 350 attendees) and I was surprised to find lots of people traveled all the way from Europe to attend this conference. Looks as if more than 50% of the attendees are new (attending the conference for the first time).
We built an open source portal called OpenCourse a few years ago. I am working on a Learning Portal for XML and chose Plone. You can program Zope/Plone using Python, which is one of the most productive languages I have seen. I looked at Drupal (a PHP based portal framework) and Liferay (a Java based portal) before deciding to go the Plone route. Will share my experience on building the Learning Portal in future entries in this blog.
If you want to check out Plone, these screencasts are the best starting points.