Meet Plone with Víctor Fernández de Alba


Welcome to the Open Source CMS series, a 15-minute conversation with lead developers from the greatest Open source communities. We will talk with them about how they see the future of their software and what are the main challenges they will face in the coming years.

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Eudald Camprubí – In this episode, we’ll meet Plone. For those of you not knowing anything about Plone, Plone it’s an advanced and secure enterprise CMS, is among the top 2% of all open-source projects worldwide with more than 250 developers and more than 300 solution providers in more than 70 countries.

To talk about Plone, we today have Victor Fernandez de Alba, one of the lead developers in the Plone community, CTO at Kitconcept, and a member of the Plone Foundation.

Hi, Victor, how are you doing?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
Hello Eudald, very nice to be with you today.

Eudald Camprubí- 
Thank you for being with us today. So Victor, for someone not familiar with Plone, could you please explain what is Plone and what it is mainly used for?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
Yes, Plone is the leading open-source CMS, written in Python. A CMS is a “Content Management System”. It has over 20 years of experience in the IT world. It has a quite good proven security record. And its focus on accessibility and usability. As you said, it’s internationalized and is multilingual with translations in more than 40 languages, and nowadays, we are working on the latest installment of the latest version of Plone. It’s going to be Plone 6 and we are also focusing on the front-end part.
So we are launching a completely new UI for Plone. And Plone is also developed and maintained by the Plone community, which is a worldwide active and friendly community and is protected by a foundation, and 501 c three nonprofit foundation based in the US. And lately, I will point that Plone is not only the CMS, but also the umbrella of the software projects that the Plone community takes care of like the GuillotinaZopeVolto, and other software projects.

Eudald Camprubí- 
That’s great and quite impressive. You just said that Plone has more than 20 years of track record. Is that right?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
It does, it does. Plone was created in 2001 by Alex Limi and Alex Runyan. And it’s one of the oldest open-source software foundations. And it also, to make some similarity, one of the only ones that is the only Software Foundation open-source that is related and relatable is the Apache foundation. Right? So it’s only to make things. Yeah, at the same level. So yeah, and we’ve been 20 years of track record, developing the CMS, and that’s also why we have such a community and experience building a CMS.

Eudald Camprubí- 
That’s great! I wanted to ask you about the “community”, because having a 20 years old community developing an open-source project is quite impressive.
So how would you describe the Plone community? How can you explain a community being 20 years developing a product so please, let us know more about the community?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
In fact, the community is one of the things that we are more proud of in Plone. It’s a vibrant, friendly and very active group of worldwide individuals and also companies, that help every day to make Plone better.
I could say tonnes of things about the community since it’s really a unique thing, but all of them will fall short.
As you said, we have these 20 years of experience that is hard to tell in a glimpse what could entail, and what it means, of course, we are not. I mean, the current active members, we are not there since the beginning. So it’s been a process that one that people started in the community when they left and they return and they left and but yeah, 20 years of history is enough for having a lot of stories and experience, live together with a lot of people. And especially as I said, the usual suspects that we are in the community since a lot of years ago, and we tend to think of us as our other family, and at some point our real family has to fight for, for attention, right? At some point. And yes, and the center of the community, I will say that is the periodic gatherings that happen throughout the year, especially sprints and conferences that take place annually. And when the members of the community gather and celebrate and help plan make me better and improve Plone together.

Eudald Camprubí- 
Well, thank you. Very interesting community. And obviously, in 20 years, it’s quite normal that developers come and developers go, and together with developers technology, in 20 years, in those 20 years, has changed a lot and has evolved a lot. Probably you have some challenges as a community and as a project regarding technology.
So what do you think are the main challenges Plone will face in the coming years, technology-wise?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
That’s a very good question. Because, in fact, one of the most difficult things in software development is to keep up with the modern technologies that come and go. In the case of Plone, that is especially true when dealing with our own legacy, right, 20 years of refactorings, of features after feature, then everything features then or aspects of the software, then rebuilt them again, this doesn’t come for free, right. Also, being such a great big community and people that is using Plone, one of the big commitments that Plone as software had over the years or half over the years is to maintain the compatibility between versions. So we always provided a way to upgrade from one version to the next one to the next one to the next one. In fact, in theory, you could migrate from a 20-year-old Plone 1.0 to the latest Plone 6 today. Right? So and that’s something pretty unique that not all software’s open-source, or privative servers can tell, right? So integrating these new technologies without causing havoc, or introducing very hard problems to solve on existing installations is very difficult. And yeah, and we try to do our best through the years without breaking this commitment for the existing installations. And in fact, it’s the most important challenge that we have to face today.

Eudald Camprubí- I can imagine many like to all of you because probably the problems you face with this legacy are not easy to solve. But I’m sure you, you manage this of all of them, and all the rivers you’re having here. So this is quite impressive. And I would also like to ask you about one of the critical functionalities, most of the senior CMS are facing as well, witch this search, which is usually a very important part of any software. And so since it’s a critical part, it has become, obviously, a critical element of Plone. So I would like you to explain more about the search capabilities of Plone and what are the main challenges regarding that search engine Plone is running.

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
Indeed, indeed searching is searching I’m finding is one of the most important CMS features, Plone uses a search engine that is capable to index its content, even the one in embedded in files and alike. And it’s integrated into Plone itself. So it doesn’t need any external part and works hand in hand with the Plone database. It’s also able to do the most essential features when searching like indexing, querying, retrieving from any kind of fields from plane fields to keyword fields, our listings, dictionaries, etc. However, there are external search engines out there for sure, that are more advanced, and that provide features that the essential searching capabilities of Plone is not able to deliver right. So yeah, Plone is capable to is a hazard solution and it delivers a solution for searching that is fine for most use cases. But one could need at some point, go this extra mile and have more advanced features that those external search engines provide, for example, Plone has add-ons for integrating with Solar or Elasticsearch. Dut I think that that, yeah, I mean, being able to go the extra mile is very important for any CMS. Yeah.

Eudald Camprubí- 
Yeah. Thank you very much for answering Victor. Just the last one, because probably some of our listeners would like to know more about Plone and would like to discover more about the functionalities and the features Plone can offer to them. So if someone would like to know more about where could he or she find more information about Plone?

Víctor Fernández de Alba- 
Yeah, I would say to visit the website
There you can find information about how to install triad blown access to demos, we have online demos, with Plone even with the upcoming Plone 66. We have also access to the recommendation to the chat. We recently opened a new chat-based on this Discourse. Yeah, just go there and see all the resources that we can offer to you.

Eudald Camprubí- 
Okay, so remember, you can visit if you would like to have more information. Victor, thank you very much for your time, for your explanation about Plone and it’s a great community.

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