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Plone 3 Products Development Cookbook 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
RickJWagner writes "This book takes an interesting path to teaching Plone 3 development. Unlike most software instructional books, it starts way back in the often-unread Preface by listing 10 requirements a mythical customer is asking the reader to implement in Plone 3. The requirements are realistic and I think would probably be quite a stretch for an inexperienced Plone developer. The rest of the book is dedicated to implementing those 10 features, and coaching the reader on Plone 3 development along the way." Read on for the rest of Rick's review.
Plone 3 Products Development Cookbook
author Juan Pablo Gimenez, Marcos F. Romero
pages 388
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer RickJWagner
ISBN 1847196721
summary If you want to develop feature-rich add-on products in Plone, this book is for you.
I wouldn't say this is a good book for a novice Plone user. There really isn't much introductory material, and there is little material to transition the reader from Plone installation to meaty development. A newbie could certainly use this book if it were augmented with additional material (say, the Internet and a fair amount of time allocate), but the reader had better be ready to self-educate on Plone/Zope/Python development if they are not already proficient in these areas. For developers who already know their way around Plone, however, this book is an excellent step-by-step guide to adding serious functionality to the platform.

The book follows a consistent theme throughout. The desired functionality is briefly (very briefly) described, then the reader is given the following sections: Getting Ready, How to Do It, How it Works, and (sometimes) There's More. Here's how these work:

Getting Ready — outlines installation prerequisites, the things you'll need to gather.
How to Do It — step by step instructions on how to implement your changes.
How It Works — after you've configured things in the previous step, this step explains why things work.
There's More — an optional section where further reading can be found, or maybe extras like test procedures.

The book includes more than just the 10 specified features from the Preface, though. The authors cover development best practices, documentation, a section on testing, and many other goodies that are not directly in the path of implementing those 10 requirements. I especially liked the parts about performance improvements, a consideration that's sometimes lacking in development books.

Many expert-level techniques are revealed to the reader, especially those concerning production of Products for Plone 3. The authors are obviously well versed in their domain and they freely share best practices the reader will be able to leverage. These tips deal with the whole development cycle, distributed in a sort of holistic manner, sprinkled into several chapters along with the primary material for that section. It's not a book on the development process, but if the reader is willing to listen as advice is given, they will become aware of many development best practices (automated testing, documentation, etc.) along the way.

Besides just the how-to aspect of Product development, the authors give the reader some insight into runtime aspects of a Plone site. The chapter covering cache configuration, for example, was lighter on Product development verbiage and much longer on advice that is bound to be helpful for a Plone site administrator rather than a Product developer. I imagine it's probably not uncommon for people to wear both these hats, so this is another useful characteristic. Developers and Administrators alike can profit from this kind of advice.

The book definitely reads differently than most tech instructional books-- it's more like an expert's working notes than it is a typical dev book. It took me a few chapters to catch on, but after I figured out how to best use this format I can see how this would be very useful for random-access reference work. You don't need to do everything in sequence, just skip right to where you need to go.

There's a lot of text provided, too. There are nearly 370 pages here, almost all of it good, meaty instructions provided in the soon-familiar instructional template the authors established early on. If you know exactly what you want to do, there is little room for ambiguous interpretation-- you're bound to get it right. Some might consider portions of the text verbose, but that can be a desirable trait in a book that's going to serve as both introductory survey and later valued reference.

If you're charged with doing Plone 3 development, I'd recommend this book. There's a lot of expert advice here, and it covers a wide range of development activities. I would imagine almost every developer will learn some things from this book, and many developers will learn a great deal. For producing Plone 3 products, it will provide a quick answer for many commonly encountered questions.

You can purchase Plone 3 Products Development Cookbook from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Plone 3 Products Development Cookbook

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  • Okay but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:32PM (#32746426)

    Okay, but what the fuck is Plone?

    • by xs650 (741277) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:36PM (#32746486)
      I don't know but it sounds like there are at least 3 of them.

      If it were iPlone it could be an iPhone clone.
    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:40PM (#32746578) Journal

      Open Source Content Management System.

      PLONE.

      Can't you figure out simple acronyms? Yeesh.

    • Re:Okay but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by zr-rifle (677585) <zedr AT zedr DOT com> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:44PM (#32746640) Homepage
      Thanks for asking nicely...

      Plone [plone.org] is a Content Management System (CMS) written in Python programming language for the Zope 2 Web Application server. Among the big names that have deployed Plone in the past are NASA, CIA, Akamai and Novell.

      Pros:
      • Mature
      • Flexible
      • Secure (with a proven track record)
      • Cross platform
      • Tons of third party extensions

      Cons:

      • Steep learning curve for developers and integrators
      • Python, not PHP (so uncommon hosting requirements)
      • Some say it's slow... (but have probably failed to correctly setup and optimize caching)
      • by zr-rifle (677585)
        I forgot to add the most important part: it's free and open-source software.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Plone is a Content Management System (CMS) written in Python programming language for the Zope 2 Web Application server.

        Thanks! Now, what's "Zope 2"?
        • by ajung (116367)

          Plone is a Content Management System (CMS) written in Python programming language for the Zope 2 Web Application server.

          Thanks! Now, what's "Zope 2"?

          What is Google?

      • by aquabat (724032)
        Yes, but what I want to know is, will it integrate with Pentaho?
    • by fm6 (162816)

      This is Slashdot. You want context, go read a newspaper.

    • Okay, but what the fuck is Plone?

      +1 for reading my friggin mind.

    • I know what you're saying. It's a shame there isn't some sort of, like, online dictionary where we can look these things up.

      What? Oh!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plone_(band) [wikipedia.org]

      Ah! Plone is a British band. I guess they're expanding into that Web 2.0 thing the kids are twattering about.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        I know what you're saying. It's a shame there isn't some sort of, like, online dictionary where we can look these things up.

        Because god forbid anyone tries to communicate with another living person instead of relying on reference materials. Can you believe that people used to actually chat in the streets and provide information to each other, even though they had perfectly good libraries they could spend all day in looking up anything they wanted rather than have conversations?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by siride (974284)
          Slashdot isn't chat. Slashdot is a techie news aggregator. Why it ought to behave by the same rules is beyond me. In any case, Slashdot frequently mentions technologies without defining them. Generally, they are well-known among the crowd here (e.g., Linux kernel, X11, iPhone, etc.), but I guess they misjudged things with this article.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TomXP411 (860000)
      I agree... too many articles here presume we already know the subject matter and know why we should care about it. It wouldn't take more than 2 sentences to explain what Plone is and why we should have any interest in the subject.
    • Re:Okay but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kevin Stevens (227724) <kevstev&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @02:00PM (#32747894)

      Just in general, there seems to be a bunch of book reviews on Slashdot lately about really niche subjects with no explanations as to what they are.

      I have been a professional software developer for 7 years now in a range of areas, whether it be web development of HR apps based around java to server side financial trading systems in C++, and I consider myself well versed in the universe of technology. So when I hear about something that I have never heard of before, I am surprised, and when I hear that this technology is big enough to have a book written about it, its kind of a jaw dropping moment.

      I guess what I am trying to get at is... I kind of wonder who is submitting these reviews- people who are generally interested in the book/subject and wanted to review it, or people who have a vested interest in promoting the book for their own ends. I think its perfectly ok to try to promote books, especially if you think they will be useful to others, but if you have a vested interest in the book, it should be made known. A search for the reviewer, RickJWagner shows only returns two items- both for books recently reviewed and written by a publisher I am not familiar with, Packt Publishing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Just in general, there seems to be a bunch of book reviews on Slashdot lately about really niche subjects with no explanations as to what they are.

        Well, thats because they are usually either the next gen (I want to say 4th level...?) languages or systems that haven't really caught on fully yet, and it sometimes takes a book to help push the product.

        For example, you may or may not be familiar with PHP. I think its safe to say you've at least heard of it, possibly even used it, if you are as well versed in the universe of tehnology as you think. Have you heard of Joomla? It may have crossed your ears a few times, but have you used it? It's another Open

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Unoti (731964)

        I consider myself well versed in the universe of technology

        There's the problem, right there. "Technology" in general is a terribly diverse subject, and getting more diverse with every passing moment, and at a faster rate with every passing moment. In the field of software technology, this is even more true than in most of the other sciences. If you'd been doing software development for more than 7 years you might be more sensitive to this issue. 20 or 30 years ago, there were people around that knew pre

      • Hi Kevin, I am RickJWagner, your humble book reviewer. I too consider myself well-versed in tech (after 20 years as a professional developer), but am surprised very frequently by new topics that pop up. In the old days, after I knew COBOL and a little Assembler, I thought mastering algorithms was all that was left (except for CICS and other mainframe stuff). Nowadays I am amazed at the number of languages/frameworks/technologies we have available. It's a much broader universe than I ever expected. As
    • by dsoltesz (563978)
      The real question is: Is Plone even still relevant?
  • CMSs are so 2004...
  • by kb1jcy (1598403) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:49PM (#32746738)

    Wow, what a blast from the past! I got on the Plone train back in the 0.9.x version days and continued to build sites on it until 2006. It had it's peak between '04 - '06. I moved on to Rails and LAMP because clients wanted something that ran on a low-end shared hosting account or low-end Xen virtual machine. I'm surprised it's still around and at version 4. I still think it's better in some ways than Drupal but it's a pain in the ass to set up a proper hosting environment for it.

    So far as the name Plone, it was derived from the electronica band Plone as the developers were fans of the band.

    • by zr-rifle (677585)
      Plone is quite popular and actively developed. Plone.net [plone.net] is a directory that lists many Internet portals and websites deployed with Plone.

      Nowadays, it's pretty simple to setup a hosting environment for it using buildout, a system based on plain text templates that automatically builds and configures Plone instances for you, fetching dependencies as needed.
    • by tixxit (1107127)
      You may have missed the whole buildout thing, but setting up Plone is stupendously easy nowadays.
    • by tomhudson (43916)
      It's bad when a 2-paragraph rant is more informative than the 10-paragraph article.
    • it's a pain in the ass to set up a proper hosting environment for [Plone]

      Yes, and it still is a pain to setup despite what previous replies claim.

      • by HammerToe (111872)

        Why is it a pain? It is probably the easiest CMS I've ever setup. Just run the installer! Or if you are more developer oriented... run buildout.

        -Matt

        • by kb1jcy (1598403)
          The development environment is easy to set up: just run the installer. If you want to run it in a production environment, there's a few hoops to jump through. Zope's web server was not intended to directly face the Internet (read the Plone docs), it needs to be behind either an HTTP load balancer or HTTP reverse proxy. So you need to set up the URL rewriting rules and reverse proxy config in Apache to handle that. Also there's some configuration work with VirtualHostMonster if you are using Plone as part of
          • To be clear, a single instance of Plone is in-fact much easier to setup than it has ever been prior. However that doesn't change the fact that scaling up to hundreds or thousands of instances is damn near impossible unless you're willing to make a career out of Plone development & maintainence. You can exclaim the many virtues of Plone ad nauseum, but that won't give my team countless days of our lives back configuring Zope & Plone, just to never have it work properly anyway.
  • Unread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @01:01PM (#32746926) Homepage Journal

    Unlike most software instructional books, it starts way back in the often-unread Preface by listing 10 requirements a mythical customer is asking the reader to implement in Plone 3.

    Which is extremely dumb. Not basing the book around 10 requirements, putting them in the Preface.

    As you point out, people usually skip over the front matter: the legal stuff, the preface, the tables of this and that. Front matter traditionally contains a lot of stuff ("I wrote this book because all the other people writing books on this subject are retards... Thanks to Gigantic Software Corporation for not giving me anything to do so I had time to work on this") that people just don't care about. If you want to lay the foundations for the actual structure of the book, you need to write an Introduction, which goes after the front matter and is the first chapter of the book.

    This is the first I've heard of Packt publishing, which appears to be a new output. If this is an example of the kind of editorial work they do, I don't expect they'll be around long.

  • although according to their website ( http://plone.org/documentation/faq/name [plone.org] ) the CMS is, in fact, named after the late 90's electro band. They had a song in a Reese's cup commercial a while back: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPr16k7C3wo [youtube.com]

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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