One of the more promising areas in open-source applications has been the Web publishing and portal space. And it just got even better with the arrival of Plone 1.01.
Version 1.01, which was released in February by the Plone Team, is one of the best open-source portal and Web publishing products that eWeek Labs has seen. Plone is based on the Zope application server and Zope Content Management Framework, both of which use the popular Python scripting language.
We found Plone, which can be downloaded at www.plone.org, to be an excellent system for creating and managing collaborative portals or Web sites or for building corporate intranet pages. It proved to be much more capable and flexible than the competing PHP-Nuke. And Plone —which runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows—is quite possibly the most easily deployed server application weve ever seen, open-source or commercial.
However, although Plone is consistently referenced on its site and in its documentation as a content management application, dont expect to use it like a high-end Web content management system such as those from Vignette Corp. and Documentum Inc. For high-level Web site content management implementations, Bricolage is a better open-source alternative.
Plone administrators are regular users who have more management options when they log in to the portal. As an administrator, we could control much of the default look and feel of our site, define roles for users, and choose which options would be available to users.
Because Plone also leverages the fairly strong workflow options that come from Zope Content Management Framework, we could build fairly complex workflows to define the process of publishing some content to the site.
Plones biggest strength is probably the content publishing options it gives to regular users. Although Plone has many of the common open-source publishing features—such as Slashdot-like, discussion-enabled news and content—we found these features to be more flexible and capable in Plone than in other open-source applications.
We could easily add a wide variety of content to the Plone portal, including documents, folders, images, discussion forums, calendar events and issue collections. And because we could define the state of the content, it was easy to work on it before making it visible to other users. Plone also supports WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning), which made it easy to add content directly to the site.
Of course, like any good interactive portal, Plone provides a wide variety of user customization options. Users can easily define and customize their areas, from adding content to changing the skin of the site.
Probably the weakest aspect of Plone is its documentation; the Plone Team recommends using the mailing lists on the main Plone site for queries. Site administrators will also want to reference the documentation for Zope, available at zope.org.
East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.