PloneNG: What's new in Plone 4.2, 4.3, and beyond (David Glick)

A overview of the changes in Plone 4.2 and 4.3.

David split up the changes into categories. But first something about the process.

PLIP process

A PLIP (Plone improvement proposal, basically a ticket) first needs to be approved by the Framework Team. Once it has been approved, implementation starts. When the code is ready the Framework Team does a review. If the Framework Team says “yes it’s okay” there is still more work to be done before it is completely integrated in Plone (like final documentation, small changes).

PLIP criteria:

  • Feature balance (content managers and developers).
  • Useful for 80% (otherwise it should perhaps be an addon instead). Exception to this rule: marketing related features (e.g. content staging and versioning; not used much but important to have for software selection processes).
  • Maturity outside the code.
  • Code quality (clean code, tests, documentation, not over or under architected)
  • Migration path for current users and developers.

What has been added?

Changes for end users

  • Improved search results (Plone 4.2). No advanced search form anymore. (Tom Gross created collective.searchform for those that want to have the old functionality back.)
  • You can make the document byline use the publication date (Plone 4.3).
  • Plain text searches ignore accents (Plone 4.3).

Content managers

  • New collections (Plone 4.2). Completely new interface which includes a query widget and a preview of the results (plone.app.collection). The old collections are still there. In a new Plone site they are disabled, but they can be enabled. If you upgrade it is the other way around: the new collections are not enabled by default. Adding custom indexes is harder now. (The UI has not been created for plone.app.collection yet.)
  • In-Plone theme editor (Plone 4.2 and 4.3). You can upload a .zip file with the theme which contains your rules.xml file. You can also edit theme with the ACE editor. And a rule builder to spit out the Diazo rules file.
  • Dexterity (Plone 4.3). Define content types through the web without having to be a programmer. Some more things need to be done to make this really useful. You can for instance not change the view or the way the items are searched on in the site. Note there are new instructions: you no longer need to include a special known good set (also known as a KGS). But might need to specify plone.app.dexterity[grok,relations] in your eggs. Both the grok and relations parts were not ready for default inclusion but are available and useful. If you used Dexterity already, definitely include relations.
  • Improved Syndication (Plone 4.3). There’s a syndication control panel to configure syndication. Writing new feeds is much easier now.
  • Add “test mail server” button to the email configuration settings (Plone 4.2). After you changed the settings, you can have Plone test the connection to your mail server.

Developer

  • Switch to HTML5 (Plone 4.2). Also support for Modernizr.js. Plus miscellaneous cleanup things (e.g. we now use the HTML5 placeholder attribute).
  • Resource bundles for Resource Registries (Plone 4.2). Different resources for different themes.
  • Add z3c.form support to plone.app.portlets (Plone 4.3).
  • API for password validation policy (Plone 4.3). You can implement custom logic for password policy (length, characters, etc).
  • Provide subsection CSS classes on <body>. (Plone 4.3) to make theming easier, e.g. when using Diazo.

Infrastructure

  • Official support for Python 2.7 (Plone 4.2). Continuous integration is now setup for Python 2.6 and 2.7. Python 2.7 is a more long term maintenance release than 2.6.
  • Declare dependency on Pillow (Plone 4.3) to solve problems with PIL from the past. A bit experimental since it might not work perfectly on all systems.
  • Upgrade to jQuery 1.7 (Plone 4.3). Sizzle selectors are slightly more strict (class name should be placed in double quotes). Binding events is now preferred with “on” instead of using “live” or binding by event name.
  • Fewer dependencies. (Plone 4.3).
  • Upgrade to newer version of TinyMCE (Plone 4.3). This version of TinyMCE works with IE9. It also used to load a bunch of separate resources in separate requests, they are now served as one big file.

Tip: upgrade to DateTime 3.0: it uses far less memory!

Cleanup

  • Unified batch implementation (Plone 4.3). plone.batching.
  • Kupu is gone. (Plone 4.3). It’s an addon you explicitly have to list as an egg in your buildout.
  • KSS is gone (Plone 4.3). This is significant. It was a great feature, but it’s been made obsolete by jQuery. A 40% improvement in page load speed has been seen by not having to parse KSS rules. If you are using KSS you can install plone.app.kss as an addon.
  • The plone_deprecated skin is no longer enabled (Plone 4.3). It is still there but it is just not used by default.

What’s next beyond 4.3?

There are bunch of packages under consideration for Plone 4.4, for instance:

Interesting PLIPs David would like to see:

  • Change the logo in site settings.
  • Configure things without needing to go to the ZMI:
    • portal_actions
    • resource registries
    • portal_skins
    • portal_css
    • portal_javascripts
  • Standardise how things are done in Plone core to make Plone better example material
    • skin layer items (turn them into browser views)
    • formlib (use z3c.form instead)
    • portal_properties (move them to plone.app.registry)

David asks us to get involved in building the next version of Plone:

  • Review PLIPs to aid the FT by giving feedback on a PLIP. (See the Plone roadmap for the PLIPs.)
  • Champion a PLIP: take responsibility to make a PLIP happen (coordinate developers, make sure things are moving along).

What will be the next version, 4.4 or 5? If there is backwards incompatible stuff we want to include, it’s probably going to be version 5. Then again, releasing version 5 might also ‘just’ be good for marketing reasons. In short: David also does not know yet.

View the slides or watch the video.