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Plone (software)

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Developer(s) Alan Runyan, Alexander Limi, Vidar Andersen and the Plone Team
Stable release 4.3 / April 13, 2013 (2013-04-13)
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. In principle, Plone can be used for any kind of website, including blogs, internet sites, webshops and internal websites. It is also well positioned to be used as a document publishing system and groupware collaboration tool. The strengths of Plone are its flexible and adaptable workflow, very good security, extensibility, high usability and flexibility.

Plone is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and is designed to be extensible. Major development is conducted periodically during special meetings called Plone Sprints. Additional functionality is added to Plone with Products, which may be distributed through the Plone website or otherwise. The Plone Foundation holds and enforces all copyrights and trademarks. Plone also has legal backing from the council of the Software Freedom Law Centre.

MediaWiki's "Monobook" layout is based partially on the Plone style sheets. High-profile public sector users include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Brazilian Government, United Nations, City of Bern (Switzerland), New South Wales Government (Australia), and European Environment Agency.


The Plone project was begun in 1999, 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. 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. Plone 4 was released in September 2010. Up to September 2007, there have been over 200 developers contributing to Plone's code. Plone won two Packt Open Source CMS Awards.

Version timeline

Plone stable releases

Stable release ISO date Approx. difference in months Notes
0.1 1999 - Plone project begun
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
4.1 2011-08-08 11
4.2 2012-07-05 11
4.3 2013-04-13 9 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. Its interface conforms to WCAG-AAA and U.S. section 508, which allows people with disabilities to properly access and use Plone. 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. 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 login to Plone. This gives users an increase in both security and organization with their content. 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".


Plone is mainly developed in Python. However, there are other languages used within the project. Here is a table that summarizes the languages used in Plone, as it appears at the latest website:

  • Python: 55%
  • JavaScript (including the jQuery JavaScript framework): 32%
  • XML: 11%
  • Other (CSS, XSLT, etc.): 2%


Currently listing 2283 high profile sites powered by Plone including:

  1. FBI
  2. Amnesty International
  3. Brazilian Government
  4. Discover Magazine
  5. NASA Science
  6. Nokia
  7. The Free Software Foundation
  8. Yale University


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.

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

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). (However, as most of the major CMSes, including Plone, Drupal, WordPress and Joomla, 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.

Plone enjoys an excellent security record compared to other popular content management systems. This security record has led to widespread adoption of Plone by government and non-government organizations, including the FBI.

Plone has been rated as lagging in repository services when compared to other major CMSs.


These are some of the features available in Plone 4:

  • Standards-compliant HTML5
  • Caching header management
  • Inline editing
  • Workflow
  • Link and reference integrity checking
  • Automatic locking and unlocking
  • Collaboration and sharing
  • Discussions and Commenting
  • Versioning of revisions
  • 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
  • Wiki support
  • Automatic previous/next navigation
  • Rules engine for content
  • Auto-generated tables of contents
  • Integrated Search Catalog (all content is indexed)
  • Multilingual content management
  • Time-based publishing, scheduled content expiration & publication
  • Human-readable URLs
  • Graphical page editor
  • Resource compression
  • Caching proxy integration
  • Adjustable templates on content
  • Standard content types
  • Content is automatically formatted for printing
  • Accessibility compliant
  • RSS feed support
  • Automatic image scaling and thumbnail generation
  • Microformat support
  • WebDAV and FTP support
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