[natea] Creating easy-to-install Plone distributions with buildout


One of the problems that is holding back the adoption of Plone, is that it is very difficult to evaluate Plone with add-on products. Of course, you can easily install Plone using the point-n-click installers for Windows and MacOSX, but these just give you the stock Plone site with only the default functionality. While Plone does a lot out-of-the-box
Where Plone really shines is in the rich library of 3rd party add-on products. But if you aren’t familiar with Zope/Plone, it can be problematic to know which products to try out (i.e. which blog tool is the best?) and once you’ve downloaded the product, where do I put it and how to I install and configure it?

Plone needs a better out-of-the-box experience targeted at particular audiences. We can learn from Ubuntu which has a Edubuntu distribution targeted at young students in schools. The Drupal CMS also has distribution profiles to make it easy to set up a Drupal site with a pre-configured profile. DrupalEd is an example of a Drupal distribution whose purpose is to create informal learning environments.

At the PIKtipi sprint, we are using the buildout tool created by Jim Fulton of Zope Corp, and the sample Plone 2.5 ploneout script created by Lennart Regebro to create a Plone4Artists buildout script that will install Plone + Plone4Artists add-on products with two commands.

The purpose of doing this is to make it easier for:

  1. Developers to get a development environment with Plone + Plone4Artists products already installed and configured.
  2. Evaluators to get a testing environment with minimal effort. They don’t need to know anything about Zope/Plone in order to download the Plone4Artists package and try it out.
  3. Integrators to see how to create a distribution for their own project or customer deployment.

There are several parts to setting this up:

  1. Create a Plone4Artists buildout [DONE] – checkout the buildout
  2. Make a buildout recipe to create a Plone instance and apply a GenericSetup profile [IN PROGRESS]
  3. Create a GenericSetup profile that installs the products and configures the site [IN PROGRESS]
  4. Use gsxml to export sample content and load this content during the GenericSetup import step [WAITING ON STEPHAN]
  5. Create an executable AppleScript to provide a point-n-click interface to installing Plone4Artists on MacOSX. The AppleScript will execute the buildout commands in the background and provide feedback to the user through a nice Mac GUI. This is for those users who are intimidated by the terminal command line. [TIME PERMITTING]

More updates will be posted here throughout the next few days to let you know our progress!

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