A couple days ago, the Plone community announced the release of Plone 4.2, the newest version of their open-source content management system. Plone has nearly 340 core developers and more than 300 solution providers in 57 countries. The project has been actively developed since 2001, is available in more than 40 languages, and has one of the best security track record of any major CMS.
Plone is Python centric which is why I probably don't cover it too often, yet because it is Python based it's also the very reason why I've kept my eye on Plone for the six years I've ran CMS Report. Python is one of my favorite programming languages and lately it has seen seen a resurgence in popularity among developers. My point is simply that with the upward popularity trend in Python, I wouldn't be surprised to see more developers and CMS users paying more attention to Plone.
Plone 4.2 is a minor release that includes several significant new features and many bug fixes. The upgrade path to Plone 4.2 is expected to be seamless from previous versions. Plone 4.2 includes two major new features: new collections and Diazo integration with plone.app.theming.
According to the release announcement, Collections are Plone’s most powerful tool for building custom listings of content. In other CMS projects, "Collections" would be called a "content construction kit" or a "custom content builder". Collections have been a part of Plone since version 2.0, and are popular with integrators and end-users alike. However, collections were built with a heavyweight backend that could affect site performance under some circumstances, and the user interface was a bit clumsy by modern standards.
In Plone 4.2, collections performance has been improved and allows for a simpler, more intuitive end-user experience that makes building and editing collections faster and easier. Content managers now can build collections in one step and immediately see a preview of the results. Changing or adding criteria automatically updates this preview.
Rules-based theming with Diazo
In most CMSs, doing fully custom designs requires developing a deep understanding of the underlying technology stack. Plone 4.2 tries to address this theming hurdle with Diazo, a simple, innovative approach to website theming that makes it possible to create Plone themes without having to understand Plone’s underlying technology.
Diazo, integrated into Plone via plone.app.theming, lets people build fully customized Plone themes with their existing knowledge of HTML and CSS, plus a few simple rules to merge Plone content into their theme’s HTML template. In addition, Diazo can be used to theme virtually any website, not just Plone, which makes it ideal for applying a consistent look and feel across multiple subsites.
Other enhancements in Plone 4.2:
- A simple way to test mail server settings
- HTML5 support
- Simplified, easier-to-scan search results, including the ability to search within a section, sorting options, and links to items’ locations on the site
- Plone's installers will now use Python 2.7 by default. However, Plone will retain support for Python 2.6.
[Source: Plone 4.2 release announcement]