Show your support for video publishing in Plone

February 3, 2008 at 8:38 pm

Thanks to the following generous individuals, we have raised over $1,200 for the development of Plone4ArtistsVideo, an add-on product that improves the publishing of videos in Plone.

Support this project with microPledge


11 pledges ($1220.06)

  • $20.06 from Kurt Bendl
  • $100 from Donna Snow
  • $200 from Zahid Malik
  • $100 from Totsie Marine
  • $50 from Scott Paley
  • $50 from Chris Johnson
  • $25 from Jon Stahl
  • $50 from John Habermann
  • $500 from Alexander Pilz
  • $25 from Jesse Synder
  • $100 from Aleksandr Vladimirskiy

We’re less than $800 towards our goal of $2,000! Please consider pledging your support to help us get Plone4ArtistsVideo 1.1 released which will have support for Plone 3.0.

Thanks in advance for contributing financially to the development of open source software! Any amount helps us get closer to the goal.

Intersecting journey of Free Culture, Creative Commons and Plone

February 3, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Several years ago I discovered the book Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. It was actually one of the first eBooks that I put on my handheld PDA at the time, a Handspring Visor, a device that now seems quaint compared to my iPhone. I remember watching the Flash presentation of Lessig’s talk at OSCON in 2002, and being motivated to learn more about copyright law. Lessig made the issues tangible, and of incredible importance to anyone who considers themselves a creator.

More importantly, he demonstrated that the copyright laws of yesterday were no longer suitable for the creators of today, and what was needed was a new way to license your creative work. And so he founded the Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that provides free tools for creators to easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry.

During one of my trips out to San Francisco, I met with Mike Linksvayer at the Creative Commons headquarters. At the time I was very interested in adding Creative Commons licensing support to Plone, the open source content management system, so I wanted to talk to him about the best ways to accomplish this.

Well, we didn’t talk much about Plone, but I did get to have lunch with the other CC folks, and afterwards Mike suggested that I talk to Nathan Yergler, the Python programmer who was making so many cool CC tools, that they had to hire him.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that Nathan was doing some pretty cool stuff with Zope 3, including building desktop applications such as ccPublisher. While I still haven’t met Nathan (now CTO of Creative Commons), I can see from his blog that he recently moved from Indiana to San Francisco, so there’s a much greater chance that our paths will cross now.

Meanwhile Jonah Bossewitch had written up PLIP #136 (Plone improvement proposal) to get content licensing support native in Plone. There was a product called PloneCreativeCommons that was a good start, but Brent Lambert and David Ray from Utah State University, took it a step further during the Big Apple Sprint (also organized by Jonah) and created ContentLicensing a really great add-on product for Plone that we’re now bundling with Plone4Artists.

After moving to Boston, I got to know some of the folks involved with the Harvard Free Culture group, one of many college-based Free Culture groups that promote the public interest in intellectual property and information & communications technology policy.

Last week I was hanging out with the Free Culture kids at a dinner at the Cambridge Brewing Company hosted by Dean Jansen and Will Guaraldi, both of the Participatory Culture Foundation, best known for the Miro video player. For the Plone4ArtistsVideo add-on product for Plone, we’re exploring using some of the Python code in Miro for scraping popular video sharing sites such as Youtube.

Recently I stumbled across this TEDTalk video presentation by Lawrence Lessig, and invite you to watch as he takes you through a fascinating journey about culture and gets a standing ovation at the end.

Scientific Tools and Documentation Plone Sprint – Day 1

February 3, 2008 at 6:09 pm

KSS introductionWhat do you get when you bring developers from around the world to the same place for four days of intense coding? In the Plone community, we call this a sprint. I like to think of sprints as jam sessions for coders, an opportunity to work and play side-by-side other talented programmers and try out new ideas among peers.

To get a better sense for what a sprint is like, I invite you to read Jon Stahl’s reflections on the Seattle Sprint, an article Ready, Steady…Sprint! Creating Open-Source ECM, that appeared in CIO magazine about the Boston Plone4Artists sprint, and journalist Esther Schindler’s blog posts about the DocComm sprint at the Googleplex.

At the Plone Science sprint hosted by UCDavis this week we are sprinting on improving the scientific tools and documentation of Plone. It’s a self-organizing activity and we have been planning our work collaboratively in the planning wiki.

As an example, look at the tasks identified for CMFBibliographyAT, a tool that makes it easy to list publications in your Plone site. CMFBibliographyAT is an incredibly useful tool for academics at colleges and universities who want to make a comprehensive list of their published articles. It has some great time-saving features such as importing lists of publications via BibTex and Endnote. Stay tuned for a screencast with the author Raphael Ritz!

In order to better track the issues, prioritize and assign them to owners, we created tasks in the tracker from these issues. Ideally, we would have done this prior to the sprint to save on time, but sometimes it’s necessary to discuss the issues in order to create well-written tasks.

One thing that cannot be underestimated is the knowledge transfer that takes place when programmers meet in the same room and pair program. This is the biggest reason to attend a sprint. You will learn new things, probably a lot more than you would if you paid for lecture style training.

The reason this way is better is because you work very closely but informally with other developers. Working hands-on, there are ample opportunities for asking questions and tap into the brainpower of others in the room. Then in the evening you go out and have a beer with the same people. Sprints are not only great learning experiences, they’re a lot of fun too!

Most of the time, open source software development takes place between highly distributed teams of individuals, who are not working in the same physical space. Linux, the most popular open source operating systems, was created this way. How do they collaborate when they’re spread out all over the world? The communication takes place real-time on IRC or asynchronously on mailing lists.

A sprint gives people the opportunity to meet each other in person. But for those who cannot be present, we invite them to participate as remote sprinters. To give them eyes and ears into what’s happening at the sprint location, we’ve set up a live video stream. That way, they can hear what we’re talking about and still participate even though the conversations aren’t happening on IRC.

One of the overarching tenets of open source is transparency, and broadcasting what we are doing real-time is just one way to share the trials and triumphs of the sprint team. Another way is to post the IRC logs for those who want to see what has been discussed.

Inspired by Jonathan Lewis’ daily podcast reports from the Plone Archipelago sprint in Norway, I decided to make a video each day with highlights from that day. The first video from day 1 is posted and can be found on There wasn’t much coding on the first day, but we had a great time exploring the eateries in Davis and hanging out at Steve’s house in the evening. Thanks Steve!

I’d also like to thank the UCD Center for Mind and Brain who made it possible for me to participate in the sprint. Thanks to the other sponsors we are fortunate to have Raphael Ritz (from Germany/Sweden) and Balazs Ree (from Hungary) participating in the sprint.

Easy video publishing with Plone4ArtistsVideo

January 6, 2008 at 1:49 am

Plone4ArtistsVideo screenshotAs evidenced by the proliferation of Plone add-ons such as ATGoogleVideo, ATFlashMovie and the recent release of SevenVideo, there is obviously a demand for tools that make it easier to publish videos to a Plone site.

While each of these products is useful in that they make it easy to add a video hosted on Google Video (ATGoogleVideo), a Flash SWF file (ATFlashMovie) or a Youtube/Metacafe (SevenVideo), there are several disadvantages to these products.

Not extensible

With the exception of SevenVideo, each product only supports a single video site/format. What if you start out wanting to add Google Videos to your Plone site, and then later decide you want to add support for YouTube videos? Well, you probably aren’t going to want to extend ATGoogleVideo, because it wasn’t designed for that. So you’ll have to install SevenVideo. Then later you want to add support for another video sharing site. Well, you’ll have to then install another product. And so on…

Update: Matthew Latterell left a comment to inform me that ATGoogleVideo does in fact support Youtube as well. My apologies for not getting my facts straight.

Burden of maintaining multiple products

For each new product that you install in your Plone site, that’s another product that you have to maintain and upgrade when new versions are released. So if you want to support all of those video types, you have to install all those video products, right? Wrong! Read on to learn about a product that has support for all these video sites and file formats out-of-the-box and is also extensible so you can add other sites/formats.

Content type pollution

You can never have enough content types available for users to add to the Plone site, right? Wrong! For each new product that you install in your Plone site, you introduce new content types. Each new product introduces additional items which appear in the Add new item menu.

From a usability standpoint, this is a disadvantage because your users now have to think before they are going to add a video. “Now which type of video am I adding? Is it a Flash, Google, Youtube or Metacafe video?” and scratch their heads as they look through the list of items to find the appropriate content type.

Wouldn’t it be easier if they could just add a normal Link if they want to add a video hosted elsewhere, and a File if they want to upload a video file? This makes logical sense if you are just a normal non-technical user of the CMS.

Now wouldn’t it be even more convenient if when you added that Link or File, Plone was smart enough to detect where the link was from, or what kind of file you are uploading, and automagically extract the relevant metadata and choose an appropriate video player?

A video publishing tool for the rest of us

This is what the Plone4ArtistsVideo product provides, an intuitive interface for adding videos to your Plone site whether they are hosted on one of a dozen popular video sharing sites, or a Quicktime, Windows Media or Flash video file on your computer. And it introduces no new content types!

As part of the development of, we added the ability to extract the metadata from videos hosted on Google Video, Youtube, and This means that when you paste in a video link from one of these sites into your Plone site, Plone4ArtistsVideo will grab the title, description, thumbnail, tags and author, so you don’t have to type all that data in again.

We’ve also added the capability of rating and tagging in addition to commenting on the videos. Note: you must have the contentrating and tagging products installed in order for these features to be enabled.

Try it out!

You can download the latest version of Plone4ArtistsVideo 1.0 which is compatible with Plone 2.5, and we are working on Plone4ArtistsVideo 1.1 which will bring Plone 3.0 compatibility. Help us to get the 1.1 release out faster by pledging a financial contribution. We are developing this open source software on a volunteer basis, so we appreciate any amount of money that you can contribute. Thanks!

Jonathan Lewis is also making a screencast about Plone4ArtistsVideo which will complement the two that he has already done about Plone4ArtistsAudio and Plone4ArtistsCalendar.

In the meantime, you can take Plone4ArtistsVideo for a test drive on the demo site. Please try it out and give us feedback on what you like and what you don’t like!

Plone4Edu edition of Plone for universities and educational institutions

December 8, 2007 at 11:11 pm

I’ve written in the past about the idea of fostering sub-communities within the greater Plone community, and after some recent developments, I’d like to revisit this discussion and invite you to get involved in making this happen.

First, a brief history:

Back when I was working at Learning Lab Denmark in 2003, I had the privilege of attending the Plone educational sprint in Paderborn, Germany. Not only was I introduced to the German tradition of drinking large Hefeweisen beers everyday for lunch, but it was also one of my first introductions to the Plone community and the concept of sprinting. I had attended my first sprint, the Castle Sprint, only weeks before in Austria.

At the educational sprint, I met Raphael Ritz, who took on the challenge of converting his CMFBibliography product to Archetypes, which consequently resulted in a name change to CMFBlbliographyAT. Archetypes was still relatively new at the time, but Raphael successfully got it working by the end of the sprint. I remember being quite impressed by his programming prowess since he was not trained as a computer scientist but as a neuroscientist.

At Learning Lab, we ended up using CMFBibliographyAT extensively to catalog our researchers’ articles. This was how I justified to my boss at the time, that attending sprints was well worth the investment. Being able to meet and work directly with the product author and in many cases influence and shape the direction of the software is just one of the many benefits of participating in a developer sprint.

Another initiative was underway at the Educational sprint, and that was the EduPlone project. This project originated in Austria and unfortunately never really made much of an impact, presumably because it’s main focus was on using Plone to build a learning management system (LMS), and not a general purpose distribution of Plone for educational institutions.

The last release of EduPlone on sourceforge site was in 2004, and the and domain names have since been snatched up by domain squatters, so I think its pretty safe to say that EduPlone is dead. RIP.

Just a few months before the Educational sprint, there were murmurings on the plone.educational mailing list about creating a special distribution of Plone for educational institutions. Sadly, like so many great ideas, without a champion to cultivate and nurture the idea, it fizzled and died.

Fast forward to 2007…

During the Plone Conference 2007 in Naples, Andreas Jung organized a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session he aptly titled Plone4Universities, and cited the Plone4Artists project as inspiration for the idea. On the following day, Andreas summarized the BoF with a 5 min lightning talk about the new Plone4Universities project.

As result of this very popular BoF, the Plone4Universities project was founded. The launch of P4U generated a lot of buzz and now provides a forum for those working in education to rally around a common purpose. Thanks to Andreas, we are making progress towards unity!

Just weeks after the Plone4Universities project was launched, Enfold Systems hosted a Ploneability Higher Ed event in Texas focusing on Plone in higher education. The event had over 40 attendees and resulted in a wealth of presentation materials.

Shortly after the Ploneability conference, Jordan Carswell offered to donate the domain name Plone4Edu to the cause, and rename Plone4Universities to Plone4Edu since it was more representative of the Plone in education effort, not limiting it to just universities.

What this activity indicates to me is that there is a strong demand for using Plone in educational institutions. However, many educational institutions lack the IT staff and resources to go through the lengthy process of evaluating Plone and the various add-on products to see which ones are right for their university. There has to be a way to bootstrap these universities, so that they can get a better feel for Plone’s power and how it can be used to serve their needs.

A proposal to create a Plone4Edu buildout.

I’d like to propose that as part of the Plone4Edu initiative, a buildout is created with a collection of products suitable for the educational audience. The purpose is not to provide a complete solution, but to make a convenient package of the most common add-on products for Plone, that would appeal to an evaluator from the education sector.

So how do you make a buildout?

There are already a number of buildouts available for Plone, to name a couple: PloneGetPaid buildout and Plone4Artists buildout This is probably a good place to start if you want to see how to make your own buildout.

Martin Aspeli, author of Professional Plone Development has a chapter about creating buildouts in his book. He’s also written a howto in the documentation center called Managing projects with zc.buildout.  Also, see the comprehensive documentation about zc.buildout on the Python cheeseshop.
We need to give some more thought to how to make these buildouts more accessible, since right now they are geared more towards the developer. Anyone have some thoughts along these lines?

Hivurt – a new Zope 3 based CMS?

November 9, 2007 at 10:06 pm

Stephan Richter just alerted me to a new CMS that has been developed in Zope 3. Mikhail Kashkin from Key Solutions (a Russian company) reported on the Zope developers list that they are developing a Zope3-based CMS called Hivurt and some of the components are already available on their SVN repository.

All of the documentation is only in Russian, but Stephan said that they are busy translating it to English. A Google search brought up this code repository on so that may be the future home of the English translated code and documentation.

Looking at the screenshots, I can’t but help observe that the UI looks surprisingly similar to Plone/CMF with a “contents” tab, and “add” and “actions” dropdown menus. Although given that it’s built on top of pure Zope 3, I’m guessing that it’s much faster than Plone. It will also be interesting to see what functionality is missing from Hivurt that comes out-of-the-box with Plone.

According to this newsitem, is the first major site built using Hivurt CMS. is the official website of TC “Sport” – Russia’s “most reliable sport news supplier.” Its potential audience in Russia is 62 million people living in 72 regions of Russian Federation.

TC “Sport” plans publishing the latest information in the sports world, video collections (Video-On-Demand), streaming video on various sports commented by the leading journalists and sports professionals. The portal offers many interactive features for its visitors, blogs of famous sportsmen, coaches and commentators.

Hivurt sounds like a very promising CMS and a welcome addition to the Zope 3 community. We’re looking forward to seeing the English documentation and trying it out!

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Enabling Postfix on MacOSX Tiger

September 22, 2007 at 1:12 pm

I’m doing some testing of a Plone site locally on my Mac, and I want to test the registration process. This requires that I have a mail server such as postfix running on my Mac, listening on port 25. Tiger ships with Postfix but it’s disabled by default. I found these instructions for enabling Postfix, so I can now send emails from this local mail server.

This also comes in handy when you are trying to send email from or Thunderbird and the network you are on is blocking traffic to port 25. If you run a local mail server, then you can avoid this problem. But be aware that some anti-spam tools will try to do reverse IP lookup, and if they don’t find a fully qualified domain name for your machine, it’s likely that the message will get flagged as spam.

In this case, you can setup an SSH tunnel over a port that is open, and route your SMTP traffic over the SSH tunnel.

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International Software Freedom Day

September 15, 2007 at 10:28 am

Today I’m going down to check out the Boston Software Freedom Day hosted by the Free Software Foundation (which is headquartered in Boston, and their site runs Plone!), BinaryFreedom and the Boston Free Culture.

This event is part of a larger worldwide coordinated Software Freedom Day, whereby activists from around the world join together to promote free software. Over 330 teams from over 90 countries are participating!

Software Freedom Day is a global, grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of software freedom and the virtues and availability of Free and Open Source Software.

I’m particularly looking forward to hear the talk about Drupal for non-profits. While I’m a staunch Plone advocate, I often get asked the question, so why should I use Plone instead of Drupal? I know that Drupal is a very capable CMS, but I’m curious to see what the sales proposition is to a non-profit audience.

They are also going to have people on hand to assist in installing Rockbox, an open firmware for portable music players. Maybe I’ll bring my aging iPod and dump Apple’s firmware in favor of Rockbox. It does look quite featureful.

Plone 3.0 released

August 21, 2007 at 5:29 pm

I am really excited about Plone 3.0, the newest version of the content management system built on Zope, which was released today! New features include OpenID support, a new portlet architecture, built in wiki support, improved WYSIWYG editor and lots more. Installers are available for Windows, OSX, Linux and SuSE as well as cross-platform source bundles.

read more | digg story

Birds of a Feather – fostering Plone subcommunities

June 4, 2007 at 11:42 pm

I’m at the PIKtipi sprint right now and thoroughly enjoying the sprinting, camping and socializing among friends old and new. I got a chance to chat with Xavier Heymans (CEO of ZEA Partners), and he was telling me about the new PloneGov initiative. It’s really interesting to see how governments from around the world are coming together under a common purpose to create open source software to serve the public.

This lead to a discussion about the importance of organizing the Plone users within various vertical markets and that collecting case studies about how these sectors are using Plone might be a good place to start. There is already an initiative on for this, but it appears to be inactive. What are the policies for posting to this area of How does one contribute case studies, news, links, events, etc.?

I’ve also been thinking about how the Plone community needs to do a better job of evangelizing its successes, and helping to facilitate like-minded groups to form sub-communities. Plone is being used in a wide variety of sectors and there are so many interesting use cases: libraries, eLearning, governments, artists, newspapers, mapping and even managing vineyards!

But these case studies are few and far between. As of today, there are only 6 case studies on I should not be the one to cast the first stone, because my company, Jazkarta, has not published any case studies yet, even though we have several projects that would be very interesting to document.

I’ve started collecting various “Plone for…” initiatives and sites, and would like to post these somewhere permanent where they can grow into a comprehensive resource for decision makers who are evaluating Plone to see if it will fit their needs. Perhaps this information would be better suited for a home on Here is the first shot…

Plone for Libraries

• Plinkit provides Plone-based, pre-built websites for public libraries. See Darci Hanning’s presentation about Plinkit at the Plone Conference 2006.

Plone for Education and eLearning

• eduCommons is an OpenCourseWare management system designed specifically to support OpenCourseWare projects. eduCommons will help you develop and manage an open access collection of course materials. eduCommons is used by Utah State University, Novell’s OpenCourseWare, Rice University’s Connexions, etc. Read more about the history of EduCommons.

Plone for Governments

• The goal of PloneGov is to develop in a cooperative manner, applications and websites suited for public organization for their own use as well as for their citizens’.
• CommunePlone, the predecessor to PloneGov, is a fast growing open source software mutualization project led by local governments. Open to international collaboration, the project outlines the benefits of open source and mutualization for the Public Sector. Read more about CommunesPlone.

Plone for Artists

• Plone4Artists is an initiative to assemble a Plone products bundle with features commonly required for artist community websites. The target audience is artists and musicians who want to build a community portal site where they can showcase their work and network with like-minded artists.
• BI.LIVE is an example of a site that is using the 1st generation Plone4Artists products for multimedia: ATAudio/ATVideo.

Plone for eCommerce

• PloneGetPaid is a lightweight framework for payment processing and commerce in Plone. There have already been two sprints to accelerate the development of the product. The upcoming doc-comm sprint at the Googleplex in Mountain View (June 25-29) will have a team of developers working on improving this product and getting it ready for prime-time.

Plone for Multimedia

• The MediaDB project was developed as a central repository for media files and documents, that were to be used in multiple web sites (referred to as ‘media sites’ here) run by the same company. That means the project not so much implements a media server handling the media content itself (e.g. video streaming), but focuses on storing files in a central place and making them available from (remote) plone sites. Demo of MediaDB

• The Plone4ArtistsSite suite of products includes several components for making it easier to manage multimedia content in your Plone site: Plone4ArtistsAudio, Plone4ArtistsVideo, and PloneFlashUpload.

• Plumi is a GPL licensed video sharing Content Management System based on Plone and produced by the EngageMedia collective. Plumi enables you to create your own sophisticated video sharing site; by adding it to an existing Plone instance you can quickly have a wide array of functionality to facilitate video distribution and community creation. EngageMedia is a website for video about social justice and environmental issues in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Plone for Community Planning

• OpenPlans aims to transform social activism by providing tools that connect people and enable them to share ideas, stay organized, and act collectively to effect change. OpenCore is the Plone-based software which powers the site, and is freely available under a GPL license. Read the getting started guide which explains how they use buildit to deploy the software.

Plone for GIS & Mapping

• PrimaGIS is a collaborative web mapping application for Plone. PrimaGIS is using buildit to easily deploy a PrimaGIS site.
• Pleiades is an international research community, devoted to the study of ancient geography
• GeoServer was started to help build a more open, interoperable infrastructure of Geographic Information.
• GISPython is a resource for all things about Python and GIS.

Plone for Newspapers

• Julius is a project that came out efforts to build a website dedicated to the national elections for the Mexican newspaper La Jornada. Julius has modules to convert HTML exported from QuarkXpress into NITF files, and code to import those files and create an “edition”, which is made of articles and photos. Read Carlo’s blog post on the Plone for Newspapers initiative.

Plone for Public Radio

• While there isn’t a formal project around using Plone for public radio, there have been some discussions about Plone on the Public Broadcasting Open Source Best Practices list which was started after the Beyond Broadcast 2006 conference in Cambridge, MA, and more discussion took place at the Beyond Broadcast 2007 and the IMA 2007 Conference. There are two public radio stations known to be using Plone: KCRW and KJZZ.

Plone for Multilingual Websites

• While the Plone interface has support for 50+ languages out of the box, the LinguaPlone add-on makes it possible to manage the actual content in more than one language. Plone Solutions (the maintainers of LinguaPlone) and Russ Ferriday from Topia are considered to be some of the experts in deploying multilingual Plone-based websites. Perhaps they could provide some case studies to show how Plone is a viable solution for implementing a multilingual CMS.
• ecoagents is an EU funded gaming website whose purpose is to teach kids about environmental issues. ecoagents is using LinguaPlone and XLIFF Marshaller to provide support and translation for 26 languages.

Plone for Laboratories

• Upfront Systems and BIKA Labs in S. Africa have developed LIMS, a web-based laboratory information management system (LIMS), a Plone-based tool for managing. Read the press release.

At the sprint I’ve been working together with some other folks on creating a Plone4Artists distribution using buildout. We are preparing a tutorial that will hopefully pave the way for other groups to create their own distributions of Plone. Right now, PrimaGIS and OpenPlans’ opencore projects are the only ones that I know of that are using any kind of automated buildout software to distribute their software. It might be a good idea to formalize this process, so that if you want your distribution of Plone to be listed in the directory (wherever that may be hosted), it should include a buildout to make it easy for people to download and evaluate.

The goal is to lower the barrier to entry for a would-be Plone user/integrator. If the software is hard to install and configure, people will turn to other CMSes such as Drupal or Joomla which often have one-click installations at a hosting provider. For the first time, we have tools that provide a way to easily set up and configure a Plone site just by typing a couple of commands (1. bootstrap 2. buildout).

Tools like buildout are empowering because it means we can distribute pre-configured Plone bundles that are specifically targeting a particular audience. These specialized Plone distributions demonstrate the real value of Plone – it’s ability to be easily customized and it’s rich library of 3rd party add-on products.

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