Éric Bréhault: Building a Cathedral Over Decades

published Oct 20, 2017

Talk by Éric Bréhault at the Plone Conference 2017 in Barcelona.

When you build a CMS, you might start small, but you end up with a very large stack. For Plone, some of this stack is more than fifteen years old.

What do we want to work on for the future? Zope 4! Guillotina! Headless CMS! Everything! So many challenges and huge projects! In a business situation you would probably say this is bad. So why is Plone still alive? Emotions and culture.


A software developer feels like a parent to his code. An open source community is like a shared parent group. Why does this work? Love.

Open source is not business. I can prove that. Business means you are busy. Busy means you are not free. Not free means you are not open. Clear.

The business world talks about disruption. It is violent. Okay for the business world.

Business values a 10x developer. Open source knows: the only way to be a 10x developer, is to have ten developers be twice as good.

Nine couples cannot make one baby in one month. One couple makes a baby in nine months, and it takes a village to raise the baby. Open source community.

Results versus process. Process provides emotions. Results provide money.

Developing with each other is sharing emotion. The Plone community is not just sharing code, it is sharing emotions. It feels good to share.

Empathy: feel what someone else is feeling. It is not something that you decide to do. Empathy makes it possible to share emotions. Empathy is the first open source process.

We are emotion addicts. This is true for Plone developers just as much as for Justin Bieber fans.

I think people are altruists by nature, not egoists. We want to do something for another. Our need for emotion is bigger than our need for money.

Emotion is why Plone is still alive.


Culture is how Plone is still alive.

Our everyday miracle is: pluggability. This comes at a price. Would we release a module without tests, or with a funky css selector? No. People who build Plone add-ons are following the rules, so it is safe to install.

Old Greeks had the word 'Pharmaka' for something that heals, but can also be dangerous. 'Per aspera ad astra': through difficulties to the stars. We give core commit rights to anyone who wants to join us.

The Plone community as a whole has knowledge, a diamond mine.

Building a cathedral

Plone is like the Sagrada Familia. It was created by someone who has left, and it is still being built.