Thursday, 20 May 2010

Developments I'd like to see in Plone

After a really useful conversation with Nick and Jeff in the web team yesterday and some useful comments on my The automated feeds are working post (including one from Alexander Limi, the co-founder of Plone) I thought I'd put up another Plone post (my second ever).

I'm not a techie, but I have been using Plone now for more than four years so I know it pretty well from a user's perspective. Whilst there's no such thing as a perfect system I really like Plone and the ethos behind it, I especially like the flexibility of the sharing permissions that it gives us. The web team here at Leicester have done a great job in setting it up and supporting it with very limited resources (and for the record, they should get more).

So, here are some of the developments I'd like to see in the future (apologies in advance if I'm making any techie faux pas).

Selectively cascading portlets

In versions 2 and 2.5 of Plone the portlets were created as pages and you could just point to them from the relevant folder level and so have one portlet selectively cascading at different levels of the site. This system was a little complicated to use but it did give good flexibility and avoided having to create the same portlet multiple times at different levels. In version 3 it seems to be all or nothing - I can block or unblock the portlets above in the folder structure but I can't say 'do block this one but don't block this one'. Consequently, for example, the Contact us portlet on our site has to recreated six times futher down in the structure to allow different teams to have the same Contact us portlet but more specific news and events collection portlets.

Thumbnail images from news items into Facebook

I've set up news items to push out to Twitter and Facebook using the RSS and Twitterfeed (see this post for the Twitterfeed set up). What would be nice though would be if Plone could take a thumbnail of an image attached to a news item and put that in the Facebook post. Currently it doesn't do this so all our automated posts look very similar (look for the posts that come from Twitterfeed on our Facebook page)

NOT statement in collection fields

Within the Title and Description fields in collections it would be really useful if it allowed more logical statements. At the moment you can have AND and OR but not NOT. And NOT would allow more flexibility.

More flexibility in the start date field in collections

In order ro push out events to Facebook and Twitter I use a collection to create an appropriate RSS feed. However, I don't want to push out events to these networks as soon as they are published because often we schedule events as a block a term in advance. So to get round this I've set up collections with the following criteria:
  • Item type = event
  • Location = (relevant folder + search sub-folders)
  • State = published
  • Start date = 1 day, in the future, on the day
This works ok but it only lets me push out events the day before...

I've just looked at the criteria again and it looks like I should just be able change the 'which day' field to 2 days or 5 days or a week. That looks like it should solve my problem but I think I tried that before and it didn't work. I set it up more than six months ago though so I can't remember. I'll have another check but if anyone can tell me so I don't have to check that would be great :)


I understand there's an addon for bookmarklets (share on Twitter, Delicous, Facebook etc)  but it conflicts with the feed mixer portlet. It would be good to get this fixed.

Editor bugs

I prefer the TinyMCE editor to Kupu, on the whole, but there's a bug in TinyMCE which means that if you add a link to an image in a portlet the image dissapears (but works fine with Kupu editor).

I've probably got some other suggestions but I'll just throw those out as a starter. It's not meant to be critical - just suggestions from an avid user.


  1. Thanks for the feedback!

    In general, please file bugs at — and suggestions for new features at We read it all. :)

    Specifically —

    Portlet management: It's unlikely that we'll stretch the current model much further — one of the main focus areas of Plone 5 is Tiles, which gives us a much better model to handle the various layout requirements than portlets do.

    Collections: Plone 4.1 has a proposal lined up to revamp the Collections infrastructure. I'm not sure if NOT operations are part of this, but I'd talk to the authors of that PLIP about any enhancements.

    Adding a thumbnail to news item RSS: Should be easy enough if there's a particular field that Facebook etc. pick up when used like this. File a bug?

    Bookmarklets: You probably have to contact the authors of those add-ons to resolve any issues.

    TinyMCE: File a bug, please! :)

  2. Should have said thanks for this sooner - thanks! And yesterday I reported the bugs and made the suggestions as you advised. Thanks again