Plone CMS: a non-technical introduction

May 15, 2008

In the very simplest of terms:

Plone is to your Website

what

Windows/Linux/MacOS are to your Computer

Plone is not a website builder, though it is very often used that way. Plone is a world-class content management system (CMS) that can be used over the internet much like you use a local area network (LAN) to work within your office or home.

Because Plone is completely web-oriented it is usually accessed with a web browser and it operates like an advanced, dynamic website. For that reason Plone can be used to create anything from a very simple business website to a very large, feature-rich social networking community.

Underneath Plone is Zope, a very sophisticated webapp server developed entirely in a state-of-the-art, pure object-oriented language called Python. Plone itself is written in Python too. Python is widely used by web/development experts like Google, Rackspace, Industrial Light and Magic, AstraZeneca, Honeywell, and many others…

All three of these technologies come from large, active, open source communities: plone.org, zope.org and python.org respectively.

Some of the reasons why this is very important to you are:

  • the developers created this software for their own daily use, in the real world
  • these technologies are NOT developed and licensed as commercial products
  • by necessity this software is tested brutally and errors tend to get fixed quickly
  • you are never tied exclusively to any one vendor or company
  • the system is completely customizable and scalable to meet your future needs
  • complete standards compliance means your site will stay current and viable

The ‘future-proof’ nature of the Plone/Zope/Python stack is just one its many enticing benefits. Even better, the licensing of these technologies guarantees free and open distribution which means anyone can afford to use it, and can do so without fear that it may someday vanish.

The fact that the developers use the system themselves and their total lack of financial demands means that all Plone/Zope/Python development is motivated by real integrity and a need to do things right, not to turn a buck.

It also means, for you, instead of paying massive license fees for the software, you will only pay for the server resources and the technical expertise you need to put the system into use, then maintain and support it.

And make no mistake: The acronym ‘CMS’ is already being misused to describe site-builders and blogware, but Plone is the real deal. Organizations as diverse as NASA, Oxfam, eBay, Trolltech, Nokia, Utah State University, the CIA and Novell use Plone for content management.

Plone is very robust and has been gaining wide acclaim for years, well before most other CMS products got off the ground.  One partial list of plone sites is in itself several dozens of pages long and by July 20, 2007 Plone had already surpassed its one millionth download.

For a system of this size, with this flexibility and of this quality the savings are nearly incalculable. No small or medium sized business could expect to develop a system of this magnitute and most small businesses could not afford to license anything like it.

In a very real way Plone gives you a multi-million dollar software team, virtually for free.

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