Using Plone to build a business application

published Oct 14, 2022

Talk by Gauthier Bastien and Olivier Delaere at the Plone Conference 2022 in Namur.

This talk is about ways to optimize and use Plone to serve hundreds of logged-in users concurrently.

iA.Délib is used by more than 250 public authorities in Belgium: cities, public social core, fire fighters, etc. It is a list of packages to build applications. Plone has many features to support this, but it needs to be optimised. We have a theme, dashboards, office document production, contacts management. When all is setup, you can build a new application within weeks.

We use* and collective.eeafaceted.* packages. We have special workflows for documents. When a user is not allowed to do a transition we do show a grey button for this. When they hover over it, they see the reason why they are not allowed. We use dexterity.localrolesfield, linking roles to an organisation.

We worked on caching and performance. We are never using varnish; gives us enough power.

When you reindex an object in Plone, it will update all metadata, also when you only update one index. There are 36 metadata columns in a fresh Plone site, and we have 59.

Our biggest organisation creates 500 too 1000 new items every week. In peak hours, there are several transactions per second. 1150 users, hundreds concurrently. Only using 30 GB of RAM. Still performant out of the box. We optimised to use a standard Plone ZODB to manage one million portal_catalog records. Optimizations for big installations will benefit smaller ones: they use the same setup. Some actions in Plone, like in z3c.form are being done two or three times, so we are looking into optimizing that.

We have configured the default Plone RAM cache to 100,000 entries. We have improved the cache so that "hot", recently used cache item will not be deleted.

We use the ZCA for low level adaptations, but we moved the adaptability to TTW configuration. This fit our audience better.

We have used in-place migration since Plone 2.1.2 until Plone 4.3.20. Most content types have been moved to Dexterity, and use GenericSetup. We will probably evaluate collective.exportimport to go to Plone 6, but will try first the in-place migration. This is in Plone and lets users feel confident.

Second site: This brings the politics back to the people. It is a sharing tool between municipalities and citizens. One single portal to find them all.

Using Plone 5.2, Py 3, dexterity, eea.facetednavigation. This fetches data from iA.Délib through the Rest API.

Conclusions, Plone needs some optimisations, but then it works quite performant.