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HowToPlone for Getting Started Material

See HowToPlone for goal driven step by step instruction for using a Plone site as a web based workspace.

How do I tell which version of Plone I am running? (from

This page is our "HowTo" for installing, running and configuring Plone.

Many of the items below are variations of similar tasks documented in The Definitive Guide to Plone. If an item becomes too lengthy we'll move it onto its own Wiki page, leaving an entry on this page as an index. Information on a wide selection of add-in products for Plone is availabe at

Settings, Portal Design and Organisation - Version 2.5.3 Plone Site. Outlining the steps taken to install, customise and organise the portal.

Basic package installations

  1. Configuring more than one administrator user (care required).
  2. Installed Plone 2.5.3 (Zope 2.9.7) package for Windows (usual location).
  3. Installed !ATExtensions-0_8_0.tgz & !CMFBibliographyAT-0_9_0b1.tgz into Data\Products to get bibliographic folder and reference types added to site.
  4. Installed !PloneFormMailer-bundle-1.0-rc1.tgz into Data\Products for simple forms mailing.
  5. Installed !ZWiki-0.58.0.tgz into Zope\lib\python\Products.

The following configurations are the vanilla sort available to administrator accounts at preferences > site setup >

  1. All installations should be confirmed & validated by visiting add remove product (or /prefs_install_products_form), validation should include a test of the functionality they provide.
  2. Turning off Zwiki subtopics... Zwiki automatically displays any subtopics of the current page, and you can turn off this feature by setting a boolean show_subtopics property on the wiki folder to false.

Migrating old site to new site...

  1. Carry out export/imports on required material to migrate from 2.0.5 to 2.5.3. (care required, see

    Go to /Plone/portal_atct Type Migration and click the Migrate button, then Fix portal type names, then Migrate button again.

    1. b. Migrating the old data.fs into the new installation is not possible.

Preparing to move the clone to the running site.

  1. Configure ports to be equivalent with main installation

Visual niceties

  1. Customise logo (start in /portal_skins/plone_images)
  2. /portal_skins/custom/logo.jpg
  3. /portal_skins/custom/favicon.ico

Remove redundant objects

  1. Topics are now smart folders
  2. Adding additional sites with separate zope data.fs's
  3. MoreInterestingPloneStyling

Settings, Portal Design and Organisation - Version 2.0.1 Plone Site

Outlining the steps taken to customise and organise the portal.

  1. DMISWebDesign principles for the organisation and design of the department web site.
  2. Update the Portal Front Page. Login to Plone (Manager level user id) and go to the web site home. Click on the Edit tab and update the content (descriptions, body text etc) as required.
  3. Disabling the translation function of Plone (i18n = Internationalization). This tip is from the plone-users email archive at source forge.

    It seems a little like vandalism to turn off a feature which is useful and good, however in our case the site will not be hosted multi-lingually (unless perhaps one day in Irish?) and we certainly won't be supporting the suite of languages that Plone has currently been localised for. So, instructions as follows courtesy of Sergey Volobuev... "The simplest way is to move all *.po files from Products/!CMFPlone/i18n (and from i18n dirs of products you use) into a new disabled directory which you should add into your i18n directory".

  4. Changing the tabs on the front page (this example adds a site-wide Wiki to your Plone so you'll need to have Zwiki already installed)

    The tabs on the front page of a plone site are one of the two main navigation mechanisms favoured for organising your site (the other being the Navigation Slot). The beauty of the front page tabs however is that you can set them up to do pretty much anything; open a page, run a "topic" (pre-defined search mechanism), run other kinds of actions. The problem you need to solve is how to use the tabs, they are high profile and powerful but space is limited, avoid clutter and use them well.

    • go to the ZMI from Plone
    • select "portal_actions" (Contains custom tabs and buttons) you should now be at "/portal_actions"
    • scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the "Add an action" form. Have a look at the action named "News", we want to make another action like this except that it opens the Zwiki folder rather than the "news" folder.
    • clone (fancy word for replicate or copy) the details for the "News" action into the "Add an action" form at the bottom of the page, changing the details below (your Plone site should now sport a nice new tab titled "wiki", unfortunately it won't work until you add a folder named "Zwiki" in the home directory of your site). Note you can change the order of an action by selecting it and clicking move up or 'move down':
          Name         wiki
          Id           Zwiki
          Action       string:$portal_url/Zwiki
          Permission   view
          Category     portal_tabs
          Visible      (yes tick)
  5. Hide the Members tab for the portal. Go to the ZMI from Plone and select "portal_actions" (Contains custom tabs and buttons). Go to the Members action and uncheck visible. Click save at the bottom of the page... done!
  6. Adding and removing Slots (portlet actions) on your Plone pages. Slots can be configured via the ZMI.
    • Got to the ZMI from Plone and have a look at the tabs above this page, (the current active tab is probably "Contents") and click on the "Properties" tab
    • The "Properties" tab reveals a form listing a bunch of property values and fields for editing them. The left_slots and right_slots properties can be edited to alter the location and order of the various portal actions you can use (see a listing of some of the default portlet actions available below):
  7. Overriding Slots in Folders (adapted from"). To get different behaviour in different folders, for example to remove the display of the Navigation slot or News slot from display when you enter a folder.
    • Enter the folder inside the Zope Management console
    • Go to the Properties tab
    • At the bottom of the form, add a property called right_slots of the type lines, with no content
    • Press Add

    Now you have an empty box that overrides the default right column boxes in this folder. And also in the contained folders. If you have no boxes in a column, Plone will expand to fill the available free space. To add one of the previous boxes to this slot, simply copy one of the portlet path expressions and paste it into the right_slots box.

    In general it's useful to remove and customize the slots to specific folders - because it causes less clutter, because it gives you more free space when you need it, and because too many CPU-intensive slots can really slow down your site if you do not cache them.

  8. Adding and viewing RSS feeds for your Plone site (in this example we'll enable the wiki folder for RSS feeds, that is, it will broadcast a regular Rich_Site_Summary message to visitors who have configured their RSS Reader to point at the site).
    • go to the ZMI from Plone
    • Go to the portal_syndication tool
    • In the Properties tab, click Enable syndication. Once RSS feeds are enabled the Properties tab allows you to configure the update period and frequency for the wole site from here.
    • Return to Plone and view the contents of a folderish object, you will notice a new syndication tab is available (you may need to make the portal_action with id rss visible for this to work). This Syndication tab in the Plone interface allows you to control the syndication properties. The RSS file has the address http://your.server/folder/RSS, e.g. opening the following link in a web browser displays the valid XML RSS description summary for the wiki folder MIS Wiki. Adding the following URL as a URL for an RSS feed enables an RSS Reader to display RSS information from your site.

    What is RSS? The RSS feed for your Plone site is a Rich Site Summary (alternatively termed Really Simple Syndication) which informs a correctly configured RSS Reader on a client PC when the site changes (pages are added, updated or the site reorganised). Information on RSS Readers from Google.

    Use the following validation site to validate your installation (example included) The BBC RSS FAQ page is a good place to get some background info.

    The reader needs to be configured to point to a special file on your web site which delivers the RSS feed, examples below:
  9. Changing the logo on the front page of Plone
    • go to the ZMI from Plone
    • select "portal_skins" (Controls skin behaviour (search order etc))
    • select "plone_images" (you should now be at "/portal_skins/plone_images")

    from this point on the interaction is a little counter intuitive. Have a look in your "/portal_skins" zope location, you'll see a folderish location called "custom". Well, anytime you select one of the default images to customize, a copy of the image is stored in the "custom" location, and you go to the custom location to manage this image from now on.

    Basically you can update the data for this image using the form provided in the "custom" location for example "/portal_skins/custom/linkOpaque.gif" rather than "/portal_skins/linkOpaque.gif". Then you can change the image by selecting a new file from your local computer by clicking the browse button and click upload to update the contents of the image.

    Finally, this may bring you to appreciate the power of Plone overlaying ZOPE... Lets say you really didn't want to use the custom images you've linked to, how do you revert the skin to the default images? Simply select the items from the "/portal_skins/custom/" location and delete them. Plone reverts to the orginals saved in "/portal_skins/plone_images". Nice protection mechanism.

  10. ExtractingDataFromAccess (via a Microsoft Access database file) this works for Plone 2.0, Zope 2.7.0, and Python 2.3.3
  11. RetaskNewsItem as a simple Course object. Adapted the example from the Plone Book, Extending Plone, repurposing existing content types.
  12. SlotDisplay for members only (from a HowTo on, particularly the navigation slot which anonymous members don't really need to see. Also include a hacked portlet to display an image from another site, remember that it is impolite and in some cases illegal (copyright/ownership) to present others content as if it were your own, in this case the information is accredited and clicking on the image brings the browser to the originating site.
  13. Changing portal date/time format (taken from

    From ZMI /portal_properties/site_properties, change value in localLongTimeFormat field from %Y-%m-%d %I:%M %p to %Y-%m-%d %H:%M

  14. Changing the default display of pages so that anonymous users do not see the page author information.

    From ZMI /portal_properties/site_properties, change setting in allowAnonymousViewAbout checkbox (adopted from the plone-users list

  15. Tips and Tricks
    1. Making and UsingTopics properly. Not everything comes with an explanation, Plone Topics appears to be one of these things so here are some examples of how to use them.
    2. To change the members_search_results page to display the full name of members rather than their account ID. Go into the ZMI/portal_skins/plone_forms/, select member_search_results and make a custom copy, edit the copy as follows... Change the line span with tal:content="name" into tal:content="result/fullname" (credit Joel Burton & Sarah Gonzales on
    3. To turn off anonymous viewing of a folder (e.g. so it doesn't appear in the Navigation slot), go to the ZMI, select the folder you want to disappear, select the security tab, scroll down to the view option and unselect the checkbox for Anonymous. This removes the right for anonymous visitors to browse the folder but allows a default page to display (e.g. the difference between folder and folder/*. as understood by a web server)
    4. To allow group members with limited rights to edit, rate, rename and reparent wiki pages, go to the ZMI, select the wiki folder, select properties, and check the boxes to give suitable permissions for owner (i.e. Zwiki: Edit pages, Zwiki: Rate pages, Zwiki: Rename pages, Zwiki: Reparent pages). A low access group member given owner rights to the wiki can now contribute (will see the edit tab etc). The following settings are working all right for us. If we get a lot of unhelpfull comments we can switch them off for anonymous browsers.
    5. To Hide "Visible" items from anonymous visitors to your site; In the ZMI go to Plone/portal_workflow. Click the contents tab and select the workflow that applies to the content in visible state that you want to hide (this will probably be plone_workflow unless you've created new workflows). Click the states tab and click on Visible. You can now change the permission settings for this state, however the configuration of "permissions" settings can be problematic; members no longer able to edit or add documents to their folders, or anonymous users still able to see visible items. Finally, click on "Update security settings" at the bottom of the list at /portal_workflow. We arrived at the following settings which seem to be suitable for...


    and for /portal_workflow/plone_workflow/states/pending

    1. You don't like the event's standard vocabulary for Event-Type? Change it to your needs: (direct copy from How To Change Event-Types). Go to ZMI, click on portal_metadata in your Plone-Site, select tab Elements, Choose element Subject, Change the vocabulary of the content type Event, Don't forget to click on Update
    2. To increase the number of results displayed from the Member search form (thanks to Wouter Vanden Hove) just customize the "member_search_results", (portal_skins/plone_forms/member_search_results), in tal:define="results... look for under b_size python:12;b_start python:0;b_start and change b_size python:12, from 12 to whatever result size you want displayed.

Administration Issues

The following are points addressed when installing, hosting, configuring and extending the Plone site.

  1. What ports should I use for Zope/Plone?

    You may need to assign different port numbers for your Zope/Plone if you are hosting your website behind Apache or IIS. If you are concerned that the port numbers you select may be required by another service then have a look at for a listing of standard port registrations. On your default installation of Zope/Plone on Windows the following ports are assigned:

        Plone HTTP           80
        Zope Management HTTP 8080
        FTP Access           21
        WebDAV Source        8280

    You can manually change the port numbers by editing the plone.conf file in your Plone installation (e.g. at Plone\Data\etc). This may be necessary if you already have IIS, Apache, FTP and other services listening to (and blocking) the default HTTP ports above.

  2. Installing Plone onto your computer. There really isn't any need to include instructions for installation on Windows, the standard package does this for you with limited need for direct intervention.

    The package can be obtained from

    The Plone 2.0 installer for Windows or Macintosh or a wide selection of Unix or Linux distributions comes to about 20 MB in size.

    When installing Zope/Plone, a user is created with administration rights at the root Zope level. This user is different from those user accounts created via the Plone join option. There may be users at both levels sharing the same user id, however these are different and distinct user accounts managed via different ACL (access control list) objects in Zope. The administration account is initially the only user with permission to manage either Plone or Zope.

  3. Mail Host configuration. Go to the Plone ZMI, select the !MailHost object and configure it correctly for your network (i.e. set SMTP Host and port correctly, e.g., port 587).
  4. Portal Administrator email settings. You'll need to configure the portal administrator email account settings so that emails sent from plone have suitable From details (e.g. allowing reply to a specific account if required). Do this for each Plone site by selecting the site root in the ZMI, choosing the Properties tab on the right hand side and updating the values for email_from_address and mail_from_name as appropriate. Note, you might not want personal information being displayed here, in which case you might use an email alias setup specifically for the site. If you're paranoid about spam want to remove the the Portal Administrator's email from display in the Lost Password form, (in which case edit '/Plone/portal_skins/plone_forms/) take the time to have a look at the Lost Password form, notice that there is no simplistic in the generated html, rather you will notice something like the following which is intended to stop spam robots gathering email addresses from web pages. Anyway, site members need a real-live contact point if they get stuck, it makes sense, give it to them.:
  5. ApacheZopePlone configuration; getting it working. Using Apache as a protective proxy and to manage the hosting of our back-end portals to facilitate a bunch of things like maintance, prototyping etc.
  6. Installing a Wiki. A Wiki is the first and most useful thing to be added to the portal, for capture and to collaborate. Install Zwiki for Zope as follows;
    • Obtain the latest stable distribution from and unpack the download into your Plone 2\Data\Products directory.
    • There should now be a Zwiki directory as follows Plone 2\Data\Products\Zwiki
    • You will need to restart Plone so that it recognises that a new product is available for installation
    • Login to Plone (Manager level user id) and select plone setup then select 'add/remove products from the setup form.
    • You should be able to select ZWiki ZWiki-0-31-0 from the Products available for install list, click the install button.
    • done!
  7. Opening external links in a new browser window (copied from No real gotcha's, be careful and it will work well.
  8. RepurposeLinkObject instructions for creating custom or specialized versions of existing objects in Plone, uses the link object as a basis for creating a symlink (similar to a symbolic link in Unix, shortcut in Windows). Another example uses link object to create a redirect object (redirects the browser to some other specified page either inside or outside of Plone).
  9. Beware, can introduce instability: Installing the PlonePoPoll adds an additional slot to the RHS of your site root here/popoll_slot2/macros/popollBox, move this to the LHS or to another page as you need.
  10. Error tracing tips & help. Whenever you get an error, you should look at the traceback here, It tells you where the error has been raised.
  11. PloneSiteTestCases use these before making site wide changes to permissions... You will regret it later if you don't!
  12. Installing and using CMFBibliographyAT
  13. Installing and using CMFBoard; a "forums" add-in for Plone, supporting moderated posts, discussions, threads etc.
  14. Installing and using PloneFormMailer; an add-in for creating forms and sending them to recipients.
  15. Configure WebLogAnalysis packages for Apache
  16. Disabling the join and you're not logged in messages in the bar. Also see close site on
  17. Reindexing the portal catalog removes orphan object entries coming up in site searches. Go to the ZMI portal_catalog advanced tab and select update catalog
  18. Installing and using PloneCollectorNG. Note, strict prerequesites needed in place for this to work.