Plone Tips

A collection of hopefully helpful tips on using Plone (at the moment more from a managing/technical point of view, rather than a users point of view, but we should have one of those too).

That's it for now, feel free to add to it.

User Run Plone

The Zope and Plone RPMs are not installed on all DICE machines, if you want to run your own Plone site on a non-priviledge port, then:

  • first get the RPMS installed by added the dice/options/plone.h header and run updaterpms.
  • decide where you want the root of the Zope instance to live, eg /disk/zope, /home/user/foo/, but where ever it is you'll need to consider if the zope process will be able to access it once the users credentials have expired.
  • use /usr/lib/zope/bin/ (give it the -h if you want to see help) with out arguments it will prompt for a directory to create the Zope instance home in (see above), and an administrator username and password. (this should be done by the user who is going to be running the process)
  • This will have created a file structure rooted in the specified directory eg in /disk/zope/. To start the instance run /disk/zope/bin/zopectl start or one of the other scripts in there, and check what other options they take.

That should be it, your instance will be running on http://localhost:8080/. If you want to change things like enabling debugging mode or the port it listens on, then look at /disk/zope/etc/zope.conf

/disk/zope/Products/ would be the place to put additional Products, for example if you are setting up a clone of the main site, then you could copy the /usr/lib/zope/Products directory to here.

When Product things go wrong

This assumes you can get to the ZMI for the affected site.

I've had cases when installing a Product from the Plone "Site Setup" control panel has left the site broken, ie you get a Python error message. Hopeing that uninstalling the product will fix it, go to the ZMI for the site, eg localhost:8080/<site>/manage/ and look for portal_quickinstaller, you'll be able to uninstall the Product from there.

When Skin things go wrong

Change to a new skin also break things some times, leaving the site unaccessible, again go to the ZMI for the site and look for portal_skins and click the properties tab. At the bottom of that page you see what skin the site is currently using, and can change it back to what was working previously, eg Plone Default.

Customising Templates, eg page headers etc

If people want to make site specific changes to their site, they can do this through the ZMI, but note that it can lead to migration problems when Plone has updates etc.

Assuming the site is using the Institute In A Box (IIAB) theme, and using the DICE site as an example, then the main page template is at:

They could edit this by clicking on the Customize button, but they probably don't want to do that, mostly that template includes other zope template fragments, eg the header/logo.

<div id="portal-top" i18n:domain="plone">
        <div tal:replace="structure provider:plone.portaltop" />

Through some tortuous route you find that plone.portaltop includes various "viewlets" eg look at: /usr/lib/zope/lib/python/plone/app/layout/viewlets/configure.zcml and Products/InformaticsInstituteTheme/profiles/default/viewlets.xml. These viewlets can be customised at:

look for plone.logo, for example. You'd want to edit the InstituteTheme one if using IIAB.

As an aside, you can see these viewlets (and potentially shuffle them) by going to the URL:

Customising Folder Display

This is a rehash of

If you want to customise the display of autogenerated folder contents, as the ISS and School Services sections do, then first you'll probably want to base your template on one of the existing ones, so via the ZMI go to portal_skins/plone_content/ and click on the folder_ template you want to base your template on eg folder_tabular_view and then click customize and then click "Save Changes" button.

Now click on the custom link from the path at the top of the page to take you to /portal_skins/custom/ and rename your copy to something unique and identifiable eg folder_tabular_view_custom. Editing and changing that is left as an exercise to the reader! You'll probably want to set the Title to something meaningful so you can identify it in the Plone interface later.

Once you've made your changes, to be able to use your new template, you need to update the Folder type, by going to /portal_types/Folder on the Properties tab look for the Available view methods field and add the name of your customised template to that list, eg in this case folder_tabular_view_custom. Remember to save your changes.

Now when back in Plone you should be able to change the Display for your folders to your new customised template.

Workflow tweaks for check in/out

The "iterate" module is handy, as it provides check in and out functionality so you can work on a copy of a web page while the previous version is still visible to the outside world. Unfortunately unless you are a site manager, you have to retract the page first (thus removing it from the public web!). This seems to be a common moan on the Plone lists, and tweaks via the ZMI allow page owners and editors to also check out/in published pages. However this then defeats the strict workflow, but this is seen as a price worth paying.

At the moment, only the DICE test site and the Student Services Plone pages have had the changes applied. Those changes are listed on

  gives the Owner and Editor roles "Modify portal content" in the published state

  also for internally published
I also updated the title and description to say "modified" so it was clear.

Regular users and collections

Another thing is that by default only managers can add the "collection" content type, again this can be "fixed" via the ZMI.

This has been applied to the ISS plone site.

-- NeilBrown - 09 Jun 2009

Topic revision: r4 - 05 Aug 2011 - 14:39:30 - NeilBrown
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