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Open source CMS maker Plone has released version 4.2, and there are two main features including a new rules-based theming option from Diazo.

Plone's Collections tool used for building navigation and site sections also has been modified, and both new features should make Plone a bit more powerful and easier to use. 

New Features

Plone has a good track record among open source CMS options, and the new additions are welcome if not overwhelming. That's actually on purpose because a new 5.0 version was planned before being pared back and instead being released in stages.

Plone 4.1 brought the SiteAdmin role for adding editors who don't need access to the entire system, and an improved commenting system. Now 4.2 has the two main features listed above plus HTML5 support, Python 2.7 support and the ability to search within a section.

Version 4.2's main feature is the Diazo theming, and it simply allows for some nice customizations without getting too code intensive. Yes, it helps to know some HTML and CSS to use this tool, but Diazo can leverage what you know of those languages and use it as a jumping off point for custom website designs. Diazo can use an HTML page and turn it into a dynamic page inside Plone.

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Diazo can seamlessly integrate XSLT into rule files.

At launch, there are about two dozen free Diazo-based Plone themes available. The other main new feature in Plone 4.2 is the improved Collection tool. This update makes Collection more intuitive and faster on the back end. The old Collection tool made use of lists, exceptions and filters that made deployment a bit unwieldy. 4.2 brings a new UI that allows for building collections in one step and to immediately see a preview of the results. 

What's Next

Plone has several changes lined up for future releases. Long term, they include a unified rendering model based on tiles and simplified publisher control. In the short term, however, Plone has developed a road map that lays out things like replacing the Zope Page Templates with Chameleon for faster page template rendering. Other standards-based changes will include simple access to jQuery UI widgets and support for CSS3.