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[Another in a series of posts about moving from Django to Plone. I'm a Plone/Zope newbie writing about my bafflements and enlightenments as they happen.

Some of my opinions are certainly wrong. I'm writing this in the expectation that the history of my meandering learning path may be useful, or at least entertaining, to future Plone newbies. If I sound wordy today, it may be because I just watched Good Night, and Good Luck. on my Blu-ray player. (The difference between Edward R. Murrow, and the regurgitating talking heads of today's television, is a sad thing to contemplate.)]

I spent only half of this week on Plone/Zope. Here’s some of what I bumped into.

Portlets, Viewlets, and Content Managers

I’ve been puzzled about the big conceptual difference between portlets and viewlets. Not until I read page 234 of Professional Plone Development did I understand that it was in their invocation model! A viewlet will generate page content anywhere in the page when a viewlet manager deliberately invokes it. A portlet may generate content in the left or right column, automatically.

Read More


[This continues from my previous post about my Django-to-Plone odyssey. My first post in the series explains why I'm learning Plone, and the caveats that apply.]

For your enlightenment or amusement, here are some things I’m bumping into this week.

Skins vs. browser directories

From the Plone Theme Reference and other sources, I’ve learned about the dual existence of the skins and browser subdirectories.

Ick. Both can hold templates, CSS, and images. The Theme Reference’s explanation of which one to use wasn’t very clear, at least to me. Penn State’s WebLion site had more easily understood advice, but when to use which directory is still fuzzy. The names of the two directories don’t help at all — they provide zero mnemonic assistance.

In contrast, Django has one folder for all site static media (the admin interface also has its own folder), and you can organize it however you wish. (Flat, subdirectories, whatever.) Ditto for templates. I needed about 30 seconds to understand all of that in Django; compared to an hour or so of multiple readings for Plone, and I still don’t think I understand it. Read More


[This continues from my first post about my Django-to-Plone odyssey.]

I now understand more of Plone‘s underlying concepts. I can’t yet create a non-trivial Plone site from scratch in a reasonable amount of time, but I’m getting closer. I’ve read some of, and have temporarily put aside, Professional Plone Development. I’ve read a few of the on-line tutorials and quite a bit of the documentation, and I’m now reading The Zope Book, which has been the high point of the past week.

For your erudition or amusement, here are more notes from my shift from Django to Plone/Zope.

Light Bulbs

These little epiphanies enabled parts of the Plone/Zope universe to click into place. I hope writing about them will help someone else… Read More


This is the first of what might be a series of posts about learning Plone.

I’ve worked in Django since January 2006, when Joe HeckKaren Williams, and I built the now-defunct TrenchMice site. I haven’t done any Django work since March, when I joined Fisher Communications, but I’ve followed the mailing lists and blogs. And I bought and read the recently published Django books, just for grins.

At work, I’ve been getting ready to launch a Django-based CMS project. It was going to use Ella, PyLucid, Ellington, or maybe be built from scratch. But at the end of July, unexpected requirements changes made me shift it from Django to a Plone base. (I won’t go into the reasons why now; that’s an interesting post for a later time.) So without any warning, this Djangonaut needed to become a Plonista.

I thought that writing about my process of learning Plone might be useful to future Plone neophytes. Or at least entertaining. Read More

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