Elizabeth Leddy - Plone as a Development Platform

published Oct 11, 2012

Talk during the Plone Conference 2012.

Elizabeth Leddy talks about Plone as a Development Platform during the Plone conference 2012.

This is a highly opinionated talk about the future of Plone from a Framework Team member, developer, project manager, consultant, loud mouth and general advocate of change, also known as Elizabeth Leddy. (Those are her words, but you knew that.)

This is the third time I give this talk this year. Sorry, but each time I do this it gets more positive, which never was the original idea.

In the Plone 4 series there are two trends. We have been and are busy with modernizing the user experience and modernizing the architecture.

A PLIP is a Plone Improvement Proposal. Plone is almost perfect, but people keep wanting to improve it. There is a Roadmap Team, but they do not decide what happens. People still need to give ideas and write code. They do not do that by themselves. So if you have an idea for Plone that you think should be in Plone, go ahead and make a PLIP, also if you are not a core developer.

There are 1132 open tickets on http://dev.plone.org/. We have fixed lots of tickets this year, but this still means 8 tickets per core developer. And we still get 3.4 tickets per day. If you are a core contributor and can fix 4 tickets during the next 12 months, that would be awesome. If you are sprinting this weekend and do not know where to start, grab a ticket! Ask me if you do not know which one to pick.

In January 2012 29 new add-ons were registered on http://plone.org/. The Plone collective on github has 680 repositories, and rising, which is pretty amazing. The number of core packages are actually going down a bit, making things simpler.

What will Plone 5 be? It is whatever the release manager says it is. We will see what gets in it and whether all the shiny new goodness is in it.

There is a bitterness factor in development that keeps Plone 5 too far in the future. Plone 3 introduced a regression. There was less development going on. There was more complexity. Some people were leaving the community. There is a popular stackoverflow question from 2008 that basically asks: "I may want to use Plone, but is the steep learning curve worth it?"

I want to focus more on making the easy things easy. Keep the syntax simple. plone.api is a great start. Reduce the number of files needed to start. Reduce the number of imports needed.

We need feedback and if you are a newbie you are perfect for giving feedback. Documentation is a scapegoat: if we write better APIs, then we need less long documentation. We need developer driven development. Think about that fellow developer that you drank a beer with last night: is he going to be pissed if he reads your code and needs to use it?

Plone 5 has the potential to make happy developers! A thriving community of happy developers makes it easier to hire new people, getting people enthousiastic about working daily with Plone. I usually get some dot NET developers or old Java developers to start working with Plone, as for them Plone is easier. A large community of happy developers also makes it easier to fire someone, or get rid of a client: they can get new developers.

The add-on self certification checklist should get a 'Certified by Spanky' checkbox: can a self-professed average developer like Spanky use this add-on?

Yes, we hear you and we are serious about fixing it. At the Plone Konferenz we started a Plone Pain Top 10. A few of them:

  • Getting site root is too hard. Use plone.api.
  • Getting a component or view versus getting a tool. Planned in plone.api.
  • Cleanup of documentation in core. Help needed.
  • Move more code to Python instead of skin templates and scripts.

Plone 5 todo items:

  • Make Archetypes optional. Widgets in dexterity should get better. Recreate the default Plone content types in dexterity.
  • No more KSS used in core.
  • Javascript date formatting.
  • plone.api in core

Summary: Plone 4 modernizes the user experience. Plone 5 should modernize the developer experience.

Please decide to commit yourself to Plone the community. Too many people sitting on the fence, waiting for new stuff to land in core, or for the next CMS written in Pyramid, just means we have a busted fence. Nothing happens.

Make it a policy in your company that new employees sign up for Plone on day one. Do the paperwork: get them to sign the Plone contributor agreement, make sure they get a plone.org account. Persist the Plone culture. Pre-install an irc client and configure it to connect to the #plone channel. New developers should not just get to know the code, but also the community. Teach them how and when to file bugs and properly contribute fixes. Do mentorship in your company. You get good developers that way.

Resolve to travel. Hosting a sprint is a great way to contribute back to the community. Ploners love to travel. Send a person to a conference, also non-technical people. You get them to a conference, we get them to stay. Have someone give a talk, for example present a case study. And let them stay to sprint. Form an alliance with other developers or companies. Show what you have done for clients that is not publically available as open source. Maybe you can share.

Resolve to encourage. Test a new version of Plone. Put it on the staging server of a client and test it yourself or even have your client test it. Make a policy to stop forking packages if possible. Have your fixes end up upstream so you do not need your fork. Set aside time for a company sponsored PLIP.

Resolve to sprint this weekend. I will work on two sprints. For beginners: finish the Plone Contributor Agreement process. For advanced developers: goodbye .cpy.

Plone has the potential to make happy developers, but only you have the power to make Plone!

The Plone 5 code name should be: No excuses.