update on Plone Plone, the sometimes enigmatic open source CMS, has been working hard and planning big changes. The recent wrap up of the 2008 Plone Strategic Planning Summit is proof positive that they are serious about competing in the big world of open source CMS and not getting lost in the mix that is growing rapidly as others pull ahead of the field.

Issues Discussed During the Summit

During the summit the team covered a variety of issues plaguing not only Plone, but many CMS platforms particularly in the open source community. The main issue they focused on initially was whether or not CMS is a framework or a product…which then led to the next question. What is content management? According to Seth Gottleib, "'Content Management'" implies that content is a liability and needs to be controlled. It sounds too much like "Waste Management" or "Risk Management." However, it is convenient that the term is widely known and immediately brings about a sense of understanding.” These questions, among others, came as a result of pre-summit blog posts and comments from the general public. Which leads to the next major concern -- who are their main competitors and differentiators? The general consensus on this seems to come down to Drupal, Microsoft SharePoint and Alfresco, all of which have been at the top of the CMS news world lately. Possibly the biggest issue for end-users though is the overall usability of Plone. Having a reputation of being difficult to work with and nearly a decade of, “…being told to deal with all the painful changes to Plone (just deal with it man, what’s your problem, buildout just works).”

Plone’s Plans for the Future

Three months later and the 50+ people team from the summit is hard at work. Plans and implementations include not just changes to Plone itself, but various tools as well. A good example of this is gloWorm from WebLion, a tool to allow wysiwig viewlet management for those who find code difficult. Plone 3 theming requires customization of certain sections of a Plone site that can be daunting and frustrating and gloWorm is set to change some of that. Other changes include * CSSManager – Another tool from WebLion that will assist in working with CSS for those who are non-code savvy. * Buildout builders are in progress - This will allow non-programmers to pick and choose what they want installed when they create a new Plone site. * Weisglass Ofer - They are in the process of creating translation of all core elements of Plone into the RTL languages. Already they have achieved 100% translation in Arabic and are working on the UI in the RTL languages. With Plone’s new Zope 3 oriented architecture and lots of changes in the works both in the code core and the building of facilitation tools, Plone may be well on their way out of the shadows to stand next to other kings of open source CMS like Drupal and Alfresco. Stay tuned for more news from the trenches on Plone and other open source CMS. With the competition heating up rapidly, it should be a promising year for the end-user and developer alike.