Plone Professional Development Book

Last October, Packt Publishing sent me one of their latest books on the Plone CMS, Professional Plone Development. This is a book I had been saving for review until I had a chance to install and use Plone myself. Plone is one of those CMS that I've really wanted to learn more about by installing it on the server myself. Unfortunately, too many things on my "I want" list have had to compete with my "I need" list and I never got around to installing Plone. With no Plone on the server, I unfortunately never got around to reviewing the Plone book written by Martin Aspeli either.

This book is aimed at "developers who want to build content-centric web applications leveraging Plone’s proven user interface and flexible infrastructure". Given the fact that I haven't installed Plone myself, I can't honestly give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the book. However, what I can do is talk a little about the book and let you decide for yourself if this book is worthy of your hard earned money.

Some of the concepts and key topics covered in this book include:

  • How to set up a suitable development environment
  • The importance of automated testing of any code you write
  • How to perform Plone customizations in a manageable, re-usable fashion
  • Techniques for branding Plone and changing its look and feel
  • How to safely install and manage third-party add-on components
  • How to create your own content types
  • How to create new forms and templates
  • Ways of interacting with external relational databases
  • Techniques for managing users and custom user metadata
  • Using Plone’s new AJAX framework to build dynamic user interfaces
  • How to set up Zope and Plone in a production environment
  • How to connect to an LDAP/Active Directory repository for authentication
  • How to configure a caching proxy to improve Plone's performance

As I've mentioned in past book reviews, one of the things that catch my attention is when a book not only covers the application itself, but also covers topics on the servers and network that will be impacted by the application. The server and network topics in this book are covered in Part 4, Real-World Deployments. Chapters 16 through 19 are dedicated to server management (deployment checklist, backup, database), the production server (virtual hosting and caching), authenticating with LDAP (including Active Directiry), and managing Plone migrations. I like these chapters, because often when it comes time to improve performance of a CMS some of that fine tuning is needed outside of the CMS.

Update: WhoIsHostingThis? has also made some additional resources regarding Plone.