Plone (software)

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Add to Google CalendarPlone
Developer(s) 267 Worldwide Current Contributors
Stable release 4.3.4[1] / 22 November 2014; 6 months ago
Development status Active
Operating system Cross-platform
Platform Zope
Type Content management system
License GNU General Public License

Plone is a free and open source content management system built on top of the Zope application server. Plone is positioned as an “Enterprise CMS” and is most commonly used for intranets and as part of the web presence of large organizations. High-profile public sector users include the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Brazilian Government, United Nations, City of Bern (Switzerland), New South Wales Government (Australia), and European Environment Agency.[2] Plone’s proponents cite its security track record[3] and its accessibility[4] as reasons to choose Plone.

Plone has a long tradition of development happening in so-called “sprints“, in-person meetings of developers over the course of several days, the first having been held in 2003[5] and nine taking place in 2014. The largest sprint of the year is the sprint immediately following the annual conference. Certain other sprints are consideredstrategic so are funded directly by the Plone Foundation,[6] although very few attendees are sponsored directly. The Plone Foundation also holds and enforces all copyrights and trademarks in Plone, and is assisted by legal council from the Software Freedom Law Center.[7]


The Plone project began in 1999 by Alexander Limi, Alan Runyan, and Vidar Andersen. It was made as a usability layer on top of the Zope Content Management Framework. The first version was released in 2001. The project quickly grew into a community, receiving plenty of new add-on products from its users. The increase in community led to the creation of the annual Plone conference in 2003, which is still running today. In addition, “sprints” are held, where groups of developers meet to work on Plone, ranging from a couple of days to a week. In March 2004, Plone 2.0 was released. This release brought more customizable features to Plone, and enhanced the add-on functions. In May 2004, the Plone Foundation was created for the development, marketing, and protection of Plone. The Foundation has ownership rights over the Plone codebase, trademarks, and domain names. Even though the foundation was set up to protect ownership rights, Plone remains open source.[8] On March 12, 2007, Plone 3 was released. This new release brought inline editing, an upgraded visual editor, and strengthened security, among many other enhancements.[9] Plone 4 was released in September 2010.[10] Up to September 2007, there have been over 200 developers contributing to Plone’s code. Plone won two Packt Open Source CMS Awards.[11]

Version timeline[edit]

Plone stable releases

Stable release ISO date Approx. difference in months Notes
0.1 2001-10-04 First public release
1.0 2003-02-06 First stable release
2.0 2004-03-23 13
2.1 2005-09-06 18
2.5 2006-09-19 12
3.0 2007-08-21 11
3.1 2008-05-02 8
3.2 2009-02-07 9
3.3 2009-08-19 6
4.0 2010-09-01 12 Infrastructure improvements increasing performance and reducing resource use, new base theme, more efficient blob storage, overlays, fit and polish
4.1 2011-08-08 11 Configuration registry, improved commenting system, more versatile caching, more detailed security roles
4.2 2012-07-05 11 Diazo theming system, HTML5, Python 2.7, improved collections, improved search
4.3 2013-04-13 9 Dexterity Content Type development system, KUPU removal, KSS removed, Password API, Improved Syndication, NewsML, TTW Theme Editor


Plone runs on the Zope application server, which is written in Python. Plone by default stores all information in Zope’s built-in transactional object database (ZODB). It comes with installers for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, along with other operating systems. New updates are released regularly on Plone’s website. Plone is available in over 35 languages. Since version 3.0, it claims conformance to (the now outdated) WCAG 1.0 AA and U.S. section 508,[12][13][14]which allows people with disabilities to access and use Plone. An update to make Plone conform to WCAG 2.0 has been planned.[15][16] A major part of Plone is its use of skins and themes. When working with Plone, templates can be used to customize a website’s look. These templates are written with Cascading Style Sheets. In addition, Plone comes with a user management system called Pluggable Authentication Service (PAS). Introduced in Plone 2.5, PAS is used to properly sort actions from different users to their respective folders or accounts. PAS is also used to search for users and groups in Plone. Most importantly, PAS covers the security involved for users, requiring authentication in order to log in to Plone. This gives users an increase in both security and organization with their content.[17] A large part of Plone’s changes have come from its community. Since Plone is open source, the members of the Plone community regularly make alterations or add-ons to Plone’s interface, and make these changes available to the rest of the community via Plone’s website.

The name Plone comes from a band by that name and “Plone should look and feel like the band sounds”.[18]


Plone is built on the Zope application framework and therefore is primarily written in Python but also contains large amounts of HTML and CSS, as well as JavaScript.[19] Plone uses jQuery as its Javascript framework[20] in current versions, after abandoning a declarative framework for progressive enhancement called KSS.[21] Plone uses an XML dialect called ZCML for configuration, as well as an XML based templating language, meaning approximately 10% of the total source code is XML based.[19]


Currently listing 360 service providers in 113 countries.

Foundation Members[edit]

Over 127 Foundation members


10+ sponsors providing monetary support including Google, OpenID Foundation and Computer Associates


There are currently 2,283 high profile sites[22] powered by Plone, including:

  • FBI
  • Amnesty International
  • Brazilian Government
  • Discover Magazine
  • NASA Science
  • Nokia
  • The Free Software Foundation
  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  • Yale University
  • NRAO – National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  • VICSES – Victoria State Emergency Service


The community supports and distributes thousands of addons via company websites but mostly through PYPI and There are currently 2149 packages available via PYPI for customizing Plone.[23]

Since its release, many of Plone’s updates and add-ons have come from its community. Events called Plone “sprints” consist of members of the community coming together for a week and helping improve Plone. The Plone conference is also attended and supported by the members of the Plone community. In addition, Plone has an active IRC channel to give support to users who have questions or concerns. Up through 2007, there have been over one million downloads of Plone. Plone’s development team has also been ranked in the top 2% of the largest open source communities.

Strengths and weaknesses[edit]

A 2007 comparison of CMSes rated Plone highly in a number of categories (standards conformance, access control, internationalization, aggregation, user-generated content, micro-applications, active user groups and value).[24] However, as most of the major CMSes, including Plone, Drupal, WordPress andJoomla, have undergone major development since then, only limited value can be drawn from this comparison. Plone is available on many different operating systems, due to its use of platform-independent underlying technologies such as Python and Zope. Plone’s Web-based administrative interface is optimized for standards, allowing it to work with most common web browsers, and uses additional accessibility standards to help users who have disabilities. All of Plone’s features are customizable, and free add-ons are available from the Plone website.

Focus on Security[edit]

Mitre is a not-for-profit corporation which hosts the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Database. The CVE database provides a worldwide reporting mechanism for developers and the industry and is a source feed into the U.S. National Vulnerability Database (NVD).[25] According to Mitre, as of 2013-05-29, Plone has the lowest number of reported lifetime and year to date vulnerabilities when compared to other popular Content Management Systems. This security record has led to widespread adoption of Plone by government and non-governmental organizations, including the FBI.[2]

The following table compares the number of CVEs as reported by Mitre. It should be noted that logged CVEs take into account vulnerabilities exposed in the core product as well as the modules of the software, of which, the included modules may be provided by 3rd party vendors and not the primary software provider.

A Comparison of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Entries
Technology Year of Initial Release All time CVEs to date (2013-05-29) Current Major Version Year to date CVEs (2013-05-29)
Version # Release Date
Plone 2003 21[26] 4 2010-09-01 1
Joomla 2005 629[27] 3 2012-09-27 7
WordPress 2003 384[28] 4 2014-09-04 23
Drupal 2001 627[29] 7 2011-01-05 36


These are some of the features available[30] in Plone 4:

  • Caching header management
  • One Click Uploads for Theming
  • Inline editing through the web
  • Working Copy support + Workflow + Check out /Check In
  • Link and reference integrity checking
  • Automatic locking and unlocking
  • Discussions and Commenting
  • Versioning, comparing history and reverting content
  • Workflow capabilities
  • Authentication back-end via PAS/LDAP/SSO/Auth_tkt
  • Full-text indexing of Office and PDF documents
  • Collections/Smart Folders of defined search criteria
  • Presentation mode for content
  • Dynamic Navigation and Dynamic site maps sitemaps.xml + content trees
  • Support for multiple mark-up formats
  • Automatic previous/next navigation
  • Rules engine for content
  • Auto-generated tables of contents
  • Portlets engine
  • Field Level Security
  • Integrated searching and indexing
  • Multilingual content management
  • Time-based publishing, scheduled content expiration & publication
  • Human-readable URLs
  • Resource compression
  • Caching proxy integration
  • Drag and drop reordering of content
  • XML exports of site configurations
  • Localized workflow configuration
  • Accessibility compliant
  • Automatic image scaling and thumbnail generation
  • Installer packages for multiple platforms
  • Microformat support
  • WebDAV and FTP support
  • Cut/copy/paste operations on content

Features via Addons[31]

  • Video support via Plumi
  • Photo Galleries dozen+ types via PloneTrueGallery
  • Inline Document presentation via DocumentViewer
  • Dynamic Forms Through the Web via PloneFormGen
  • Faceted Search via EEA Faceted Navigation
  • Advanced Calendaring and recurrence via
  • Drag and Drop File upload
  • Advanced Mapping features via collective.geo (google/bing/openmaps/kml)
  • Ecommerce via Getpaid
  • Slider Integrations via collective.easyslider
  • Advanced Workflow management via
  • Advanced Image Editing through products.imageeditor

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