Plone Open Garden 2014

Guido Stevens | Apr 29, 2014 | plone
The Plone Open Garden event in Sorrento, Italy, is reliably a highlight of the year to look forward to.

This year's edition was no exception. More than 50 Plonistas, wives and kids (and even one mother-in-law) included, gathered to renew friendships, lounge in the sun, discuss arcane technologies after midnight, and generally have a great time together. Oh we also had technical presentations every morning.

PLOG 2014 group picture

We talked about intranets and ways in which we can jointly strengthen Plone as an intranet platform. Netsight and Cosent outlined their research and development timeline for the coming year and worked with other Plone companies to maximize community involvement.

A recurring topic this year was the question, how we can modernize the page layout engine for Plone. We already have a lot of machinery to manage layouts in the form of portlets, portlet managers, viewlets and METAL macros. In addition we have the newer blocks and tiles to further complicate the picture. The discussion oscillated between:

  • Let's stick with portlets. They are a proven, powerful and widely used technology.
  • The portlets machinery is wickedly complex and too burdensome.
  • The content + slots + portlets page model is overconstrained, a responsive grid renderer would be better.

Being technologists, we did not spend much energy on the first two points which are mostly about opinion. Rather, we focused on the last point which presents technical challenges. The gist of what we discussed can maybe best be expressed by a story:

A editor opens a page. On the "display" menu she chooses "create new layout". A layout editor opens and lets her place and arrange tiles on the page. For each tile, she defines a policy of when (context, view, ...) and where (priority, position hint) to show this tile. For the layout as a whole, she defines a policy where this layout should be used (context, type, subtree, ...). She checks previews of the layout for various display media (desktop, tablet, mobile), tunes some tile placements and then applies the layout.

This is just one possible scenario and it will likely change. To explore the possibilities we will get together in Barcelona in the second week of June and sprint to create a proof of concept.

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