Two Collective Plone Products: Twitter, Blogging

Two Collective Plone Products: Twitter, Blogging by David Whelan In the library world, we have net lenders and net borrowers. If you don’t have the resources to buy, you borrow to cover your collection gaps. I often feel like a net borrower, since I know I take more from the Plone community than I can possibly return. I have just installed two products from a development group called the Collective, and they have added some really interesting functionality to my site. While I have used Plone in a funky way to act as a blog, the new collective.blogging product actually turns on some blog-like functionality. The collective.sylvester product provides a Twitter dashboard, so you can check recent tweets and update your own status from within Plone. Two Collective Plone Products:  Twitter, Blogging

Twitter with collective.sylvester Plone product

One of the benefits of Plone 3 has been the ability to use buildout and eggs to install new products.  In Plone 2, you had to drop a new product in the right place and removing it could be a hassle.  I used the buildout.cfg to add both collective.blogging and collective.sylvester to my Plone environment.

To turn on the blog features, open a piece of content or folder and you should see a blog tab added at the far right end.  Click on that to access the different configuration options.  Most of them make sense to me.  The one that doesn’t truncates the Description in a Plone news item.  It defaults to 200 characters and I have set it at 1200.  Otherwise, when I converted my 3 or 4 Collections pages to blog format, the description was truncated but then the full text of the post came after.  So it was like creating a hole in your donut, and seems to defeat the purpose of being able to have both the news item description and body text on one screen.  This solves one of my biggest frustrations (and it was obviously a small one, relatively speaking!) in that I could not display more than the description in a Collection (or Rich Topic in Plone 2), which is not a rich text part of a Plone document.  The collective.blogging product means that I can present multimedia and linked content on my front page using the Collection container.

I have one problem with the blogging product, which is not due to the product but do to the way TinyMCE, the WYSIWYG editor, works in Plone.  It insists on converting URLs to relative URLS (without the http:// in front).  This means that any embedded media works only on the blog post or news item.  When the blogging product displays it anywhere else on the Plone site, the relative URL is no longer correct, so the content won’t load.  You can see this in the blog post below this one, where I embedded a Flash file.  There are ways to disable this relative URL changing in TinyMCE by editing the Javascript file for the editor, but I have not been successful at doing that yet.  This is a problem in other Web CMS, including Drupal.

Sylvester is a different bird, so to speak.  Honestly, it took me a bit to figure out it was a reference to the cartoon!!  There is not much to tell about it.  It works just as advertised.  Once the product is installed in your Plone, you will see a link on your personal bar to your Twitter dashboard.  Log in with your Twitter credentials, and you can get a page of tweets and update your own status.

It also adds document actions to pages.  Unfortunately, my experience with these have not been consistent.  As you can tell from my home page, you can send the document as a tweet (and I created the little blue bird icon to click on).  Just like your other document actions, you can tweak this one in the Zope Management Interface (ZMI) to add an icon.  But when I click into a document, they revert back to text.  This is not a Sylvester issue.  It is an issue with the document actions and portal view customizations, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why the document actions are picked up in one place and not in the other.

So two fantastic little add-ons to your Plone site to bring some real Web 2.0 feel and features.  I am looking forward to Plone 4 coming out soon but it always amazes me what products like these can do to the overall feel of a Web site.

Document Actions