The Importance of a Good Start
I started working with Plone in 2006.
At the time, I had been employed by a department at a large university to consolidate their many existing websites into a single, managed website. We started the project by spending a month evaluating available CMS systems. Plone did not start out as the leading candidate, but as the review process wore on, it became clear that it was the right tool for our job. It had built-in support for most of the features we wanted, and promised us the ability to extend it to fill the rest of our needs.
Just as we finished up our review, the Plone Conference in Seattle was announced. It felt like some sort of cosmic validation of our choice. My boss and I signed up for Joel Burton's Plone Boot Camp training, and we were off to the races.
The first six months I spent with Plone were challenging and exciting. I had to write a PAS plugin to integrate Plone's authentication with our campus SSO (pubcookie), find a way to manage users and access in a department with over 800 employees, migrate content from more than a dozen other sites, create a suitable theme, and on and on and on.... The only thing that made it all possible was the hand-holding and training I was able to receive from the Plone community. Joel's bootcamps (I attended several more after that first one), IRC, the mailing lists, and the folks at WebLion all contributed to my growth as a Plone integrator and developer. Without them, I'd have been lost.
These days, it's a bit difficult to remember what it was like at the beginning. Every task seemed impossibly challenging, every defeat was crushing, and even the smallest of victories was a triumph of the human spirit. But it's important to remember, because every day newcomers approach Plone in the same condition I found myself back then. They have no idea where to begin, a list of goals, and a desire to meet them. It is important that they be provided with the same chances I had to learn and grow, so that they can reach their goals and grow into the Plonistas of tomorrow.
This is why I am offering Getting Off the Ground with Plone next month at the Plone Symposium East at Penn State University. I want to help folks who are just getting started learn the ins and outs of Plone in a way that helps them to achieve what they are setting out to do. I know how daunting Plone can seem when you first start working with it. I've been there. But I also know that there are ways to make it simpler, ways to solve common problems without needing to dive down to the level of core code.
In the course, we'll cover the basics of working with content in a Plone site, and of managing a site for others. We'll learn how to personalize a generic Plone site in the easiest and most expeditious way, working through the web. Then we'll learn how to move those personalizations into a real, installable package so you can repeat the process and even write tests to verify that it works.
If you've been working with Plone for a while, and you're looking for more specialized training, there are scads of great training opportunities at PSE this year. I can enthusiastically recommend every one of them. Steve McMahon gives a great class on developing with Dexterity, the content type framework of the future. Chrissy Wainwright's theming course is an excellent introduction to building themes for Plone. Sally Kleinfeldt has forgotten more about agile project management than I will ever know. And if you're in the market for learning more about Python, the language that powers Plone, you will not find a better, more knowledgable instructor than Chris Calloway.
But, if you're new to Plone, this is the course for you. If you've inherited a site built by someone else and you don't know what to do, this is the course for you. If you need a refresher on the basics and how everything fits together, this is the course for you. Sign up today, and let me help you find your legs, the same way I was helped way back when. Everyone deserves a good start.