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Review: Plone 3 Theming

Par Vincent Fretin publié 03/10/2009 17:03, Dernière modification 03/10/2009 17:03
I finally managed to finish my reading of the Plone 3 Theming book written by Veda Williams that Packt Publishing sent me some months ago. Here is my review.

I finally managed to finish my reading of the Plone 3 Theming book written by Veda Williams that Packt Publishing sent me some months ago.

I learned how to create a Plone theme with discussions on mailing-lists, small howtos and reading code of themes products written by others, like everyone else I think.
For the first time, you have all the knowledge of Plone 3 theming in one book.
If I've had this book when I redesigned the Sortir Lille website, I can assure you I will gained a lot of time in the learning process.

I review chapter by chapter to explain what you find in this book.

The chapter 2 presents you the available tools for different browsers and OS-es that will help you in the designing process.
My favorite is of course the Firebug extension for Firefox to introspect the generated html source to search for an element where to apply a specific style, and quickly change a css property to see how the site is rendered.

In chapters 3 to 5, you start right away to create a Plone theme product with paster, create new actions, do some css via the ZMI and export the changes to your filesystem product.
It's important to not keep modification in the ZODB for flexibility and maintainability. If you want to distribute your theme, you have to develop on the filesystem anyway.

In chapter 6, Veda explains you how Zope 3 components works compared to CMF skin layers.
Zope 3 components are used for viewlets and portlets these days which are explained in chapter 7.
I think the concepts of Zope 3 layers may be the most complex part to understand in this book, but the author figured it out how to explain it to the reader.

Chapter 8 explains how Zope Page Templates works with TAL, TALES so you can understand existing viewlets templates and customize them.

Chapters 9 to 12 describe a real case study. Almost all the concepts are covered in this theme creation process.

Chapter 13 presents some products to integrate video and audio to your Plone site like collective.flowplayer, Plone4Artists Audio and Video.
There is a new book currently being written specific to Plone Multimedia that will go more in depth in this area. I'm one of the Tech Reviewer for this new book.

Chapter 14 talks about how to deploy your theme in production and make it available for everyone to use it.

The last chapter written by Alexander Limi explains the new way to design a site using collective.xdv (a Deliverance implementation). The designer doesn't need to learn how to develop for Plone to be able to create a theme, only HTML/CSS knowledge is needed.
You can read the chapter at

Veda Williams definitely succeeded to explain Plone 3 theming as easily as possible for the beginner. It's a book you need to have if you plan to do some Plone theming.
The last chapter about Deliverance/collective.xdv written by Alexander Limi open a new way to create more easily theme for Plone.

There is work being done in this area, take a look at Banjo if you want to create Deliverance rules more easily.