My first encounters with Plone

I first encountered Plone in spring 2019 when I registered for the Buschenschanksprint in Berghausen, Southern Styria, Austria.

I was frequently joining Python meetups in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, to engage with the Python community and get up to speed with what everybody else was doing. It was also a great way to improve my presentation skills. I was usually delivering talks on Django or lightning talks on topics related to Python in general.

It was at the LjPyMeetup that I started hearing more about tools and projects like Pylons, Pyramid, Zope, and Plone. Every time I returned home, I wanted to experiment. Either it was a new way to do unit tests, play with Orange and load a bunch of CSVs, set up Pyramid project, or start digging into Plone and Zope. I must give thanks to Nejc Zupan - Zupo, the organizer of LjPyMeetups, who always delivers great talks and encourages everybody to start attending python conferences. He portrays them as the perfect ways to open new doors and make new connections. By spring 2019 I registered for the Buschenschanksprint in Southern Styria. Meanwhile, there was still a lot of time to get up to speed with Plone.

I started to poke around the Plone unified installer and buildout, and the first feeling I experienced was one of disappointment. It was like starting learning to read all over again. The development approach differs from what I am used to, and this is an understatement. It took a lot of installs and 'rm -rf' statements to get more familiar with the new style of development. Persistence and curiosity helped me to begin to understand it more.

A look at the vineyards in Berghausen, Southern Styria, Austria

It was not until the Buschenschanksprint that I also started to understand the story of the community behind Plone. At this time, my enthusiasm grew even more, and I started imagining myself using Plone for web development. I met lovely people at the sprint. It was far more relaxing and enjoyable than I could have imagined. The first couple of days was more about networking. A lot of thoughts were going through my head. Who are these guys? What would I be doing? All my concerns soon dissipated. The rest of the week was more about the sprint and the various Buschenschanke places, enjoyed in the beautiful surroundings of Berghausen.

Alexander, Jens, Christine, Peter, Johannes, Roland, and Franz - thank you for a fantastic sprint and for letting me experience the Plone community. Although I was not able to attend every day, I was very much looking forward to getting back to the hill of Berghausen.

At the end of the week, I started getting a bit deeper into Plone and was finally able to create my first Plone theme. It was nothing fancy, just a yellow background, but I absorbed enough bits and pieces that I was able to learn more about it on my own. My second accomplishment was to learn about two exciting projects: bobtemplates.plone and plonecli. I even found a few typos and created my first PRs of which I was very proud. I also learned more about buildout and how to use it, which repositories to use for development and how to set it up.

After the week spent in Southern Styria, I had more time to learn on my own and experiment with various Plone version installations and add-ons. I set myself a goal to port my company's website to Plone. That mainly included the creation of a new Plone theme and a couple of Plone behaviors. To help me get up to speed, even more, I started following the Mastering Plone Development online training. The practice did not always go smooth since I started the development using the latest Plone version, and some of the parts in the tutorial still referenced the older versions. But it was enough to get me through the training and get me started writing down questions and issues I did not quite understand. This way, I could reiterate them at a later point in time or talk it over with somebody more experienced.

The vine cellar where the Buschenschanksprint took place.

I also learned there is going to be a Plone conference in Ferarra, Italy. Right after the Buschenschanksprint, I registered for it and was eagerly looking forward to the Mastering Plone Development training sessions by Philip Bauer.

All said and done, I got my first Plone customer. It was a pretty straight forward project where I only needed to create a new Plone theme, set up behavior or two, and migrate the contents from the existing site. They are hosting the site on my server. The set up of a hosting environment for Plone is also exciting and might be a topic for the future.

It was very challenging to get up to speed with Plone since it is not anything like the tools I used up to date. Thanks to the fantastic people I met at the sprint and the conference, I was able to get up to speed faster than I would have on my own. There is still a couple of hills to overcome to get to the mountain, but my spirits are high.