8 Really Cool Things About Plone 3

Plone 3 Release Candidate 1 is out. This is a big milestone in the evolution of Plone, and a big leap forward for both developers and for everyday Plone users. The Plone 3 team is still putting the final polish on it, but Release Candidate 1 is more than ready for prodding, poking and testing. Here are eight of the things about Plone 3 that I’m most excited to start using in ONE/Northwest’s projects, with screenshots.

1. A Big HTML editor update: Kupu 1.4

For a lot of everyday Plone users, Kupu (Plone’s graphical HTML editor) is Plone. And in Plone 3, Kupu packs in a lot of improvements. All of the changes in Kupu could fill up an article on its own, but the highlights surely include:

  • Named anchors
  • Automatic image resizing
  • Image captions
  • Inserting of Flash and other embeddable video (e.g. YouTube)
  • Span/character styles

Together with all of Kupu’s existing goodness, most emphatically including its ability to produce valid XHTML code, Plone 3 defines “best of breed” for graphical HTML editing in a CMS.

Here are a few screenshots of Kupu in action, to whet your appetite. Click on each image to see the full-size view.


Linking to an anchor — in this page or in any other page on your site!


Adding and removing anchors from a page.


Creating a table of contents from headings in a page.


A table of contents, automatically built by Kupu from headings in your document.


Automatic resizing of images using PIL.


Captioned images — a frequently requested feature!


2. Rich Text fields on Collections

Ok, so this is a small feature. But it really makes me happy. Collections (formerly known as Smart Folders, formerly known as Topics), which are simple build-your-own query listings of content, now have a Rich Text field, which means you can very easily write a nicely formatted introduction to a dynamic listing of content. This is going to make it really easy for non-technical site administrators to build polished, lively sites without knowing a lick of code.


A Collection with a Rich Text intro.


3. The new “Sharing” tab

Plone has long had a fantastic system for creating really precise permissions on content. Plone 3 surfaces a lot of that power in a simple way for everyday users. Check out the all-new “sharing” tab.


Nice! You can use this single, elegant screen to add give new users & groups the permission to view, to edit and to add new content in a folder. That’s all you need to cover a pretty huge set of intranet/extranet situations.

To see how radically this has improved in Plone 3, check out the old sharing tab from Plone 2.5:


Holy cow! That’s about 4x as large as in Plone 3, and it doesn’t even do as much! Kudos to Alex Limi and Danny Blomendaal for the big cleanup.

4. New built-in workflows

Plone 3’s elegant new sharing tab is more than complimented by powerful new workflows. Once again, the Plone team has surfaced powerful underlying systems in a friendly, accessible way. Plone 2.5 shipped with one standard workflow. Plone 3 ships wtih several simple workflows, designed to support common user stories including simple publication sites, community sites, and intranet/extranets.


Choosing among Plone 3’s new workflows.

You can associate these workflows with different content types, or use the included CMFPlacefulWorkflow add-on Product to assign different workflows to different folders. This makes it easy to build a single Plone site that has a public-facing section and a rich, private collaboration space.


Assigning a custom workflow to a folder.



5. Link integrity: no more broken links

Plone 3 has a powerful new “link integrity” feature that makes sure you never break hyperlinks within your site as you move or delete content. Here’s what happens when you try to delete an image that is used in several pages.


6. Versioning, staging and locking

Plone 3 ships with big-league document management features, starting with document versioning. Versioning allows you to save old versions of a page, compare your current version to older versions, and even to roll back to previous versions. Plone 3.0’s versioning is drawn from CMFEditions, the well-established add-on Product, spiffed up with some nice new user interface.


Plone 3’s history tab showing all previous revisions of your document.



Plone 3 can also show you exactly what’s been added and removed between versions. Nerds call this a “diff” (short for “difference”)!

Plone 3.0 is also scheduled to include document staging, the ability to work on a copy of a document while the old version is still live, via Kapil Thangavelu’s product “iterate.”

Finally, Plone 3.0 includes locking, which prevents two people from making changes to a document at the same time. Together, versioning, staging and locking will make Plone 3.0 very appealing to folks who are managing sophisticated sites with multiple people editing content at the same time.

7. Automatic full-text searching of Word and PDF files

Plone 3 automatically indexes the entire text of Word and PDF files that you upload. (You can index other kinds of documents, too, with simple add-on Products.) Again, this is a killer feature for intranets, and for any other site that has a lot of document-centric content to share with the world.

UPDATE: Thanks to Daniel Nouri for pointing out that this only happens auto-magically if you have wvware (for Word) and pdftoext or xpdf already installed on your system.


8. User control of portlets

Plone 3 has a entirely new “portlets” system. Portlets are those little chunks of content that appear in the sidebars of a site. You used to have to go into the ZMI backend to manage them. Now you just click on “Manage Portlets,” then drag and drop your way to glory.

Plone 3 ships with one new kind of portlet, an RSS feed portlet. There’s lots of room for add-on Product developers and site integrators to develop interesting and innovative new portlets.

This feature alone is going to make a lot of our clients very, very happy.

Summing Up

Plone 3 is the most ambitious, exciting release of Plone ever. It pushes Plone to an incredible new level of power, and continues the ongoing processes of polishing Plone’s legendary ease-of-use to a high gloss.

Plone 3.0 RC1 is meant for testing, not production use. There are still a few weeks of fast-paced bug-hunting ahead. That’s where you come in. Download it. Install it. Play with it. Report bugs. Fix ’em if you can. Plone 3 should be released sometime in early/mid August. I’m excited.

14 thoughts on “8 Really Cool Things About Plone 3”

  1. This is a great summary of new features in Plone 3.

    How do you insert the image captions? I’ve been trying out the Kupu 1.4 rc on a Plone 2.5.3 site (since it fixes a problem that won’t open the insert images box using IE6 with Kupu 1.3.9). Everything is working great, but I don’t see how you insert image captions.

  2. @Dominik: Further improvments are indeed coming along in the near future, thanks to SoC, but Plone 3 finally takes advantage of the word->text and PDF->text transforms that have been in Plone for a while. I tested uploading a few PDF & Word docs, and they were indeed indexed.

    @Jean: Thanks!

    @Jason: In Plone 3.0, you simply click the “Link by UID” and “Captioning” checkboxes in the Kupu Control Panel. In Plone 2.5.3/Kupu 1.4 RC1 you also have to do some tweaking to your portal_transforms setup, which is documented in Kupu, but a bit tricky to do right. Captions don’t appear until you save and view the page, because they are inserted by a transform.

  3. Just in reference to Jason’s question about captions. By default the description field of the image is what is displayed as the image caption. From what I have read I think you can specify other fields to be used as the caption but I haven’t tried that.

  4. It’s certainly a great release with an impressive set of functions. However, one of the eight you picked up on (Automatic full-text searching of Word and PDF files) doesn’t seem to be enabled in the RC and the Beta I’ve been fiddling with. Is there somewhere in the ZMI that I have to enable this?

  5. @Finlay – Word & PDF indexing worked for me, right out of the box, no configuration needed. I was surprised to see that this was the case. Perhaps some Plone 3 guru can shed more light on the topic.

  6. The Word document indexing will work if you have a Word to HTML transform in portal_transforms, i.e. wvware installed. The same goes for PDF files and pdftotext / xpdf.

  7. @ Daniel – aha! I did have both of those packages already on my system, so it worked magically. I’ll update the article to reflect this. Thanks for clarifying!

  8. @ Daniel. Thanks for the pointer. After looking at AttachmentField I noticed that conversion weren’t available. A search of my system did find wvware and pdftotext but they were both .exe files and as a Mac user, obviously not much would have happened with them. Are this supposed to install with the Plone installation?

    I’ve just installed a Mac version of pdftotext and although the results aren’t showing up in searches, tests with AttachmentField show that conversions are now working so some more tweaking will probably get this functioning properly. Now I just need to locate a Mac compatible Word convertor.

  9. @Finaly: Have you saved your PDF file again? This will re-index your file, this time hopefully with the text contents of your PDF file. Also note that, out of the box, files will only be indexed for the standard Plone File type. (Third party product developers will have to specify ‘searchable=True’ in their AT FileField.)
    wvware and pdftotext don’t ship with Plone. According to their homepage, wvware is available for Mac. BTW, Word on Windows will work, too.

  10. Has anyone enabled this on Windows Vista? I’ve just discovered Plone (3) and am having some trouble getting the indexing of PDF and Word files to work. I tried installing xpf, but apparently its not working. I’d be grateful for any assistance.



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