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Plone handbook

by admin last modified 2005-11-06 06:46 PM

Brief summary of the most relevant Plone features.

For this handbook I have combined and edited only relevant information from the Plone book. Hope you find this brief description of the main aspects of Plone helpful.

Registering and logging in

Joining a Plone site gives you the right as a Member to add content, such as images, documents and so forth. Your exact rights depend upon how the site is configured. In addition to being a Member, the status can on our site also be set to Manager (see User Roles below).

To join a site, select the join link in the top right hand corner of the home page.

This opens the join form for you to complete. If this is the first Plone form you have encountered, you will note a few things: A red square next to the label of an input field means the field is required. When you select a field, help text will pop up to the left. You may navigate through the form fields by clicking on them.

Once you have completed this form, click register to submit your information. Then, click log in to access the site immediately.

Logging in

If you already have a username and password, you can log in to the site by typing them into the log in box in the left hand column and clicking the login link. Cookies must be enabled for you to log in to a Plone site.

Logging out

Once you are logged in to the Plone site, in the upper right hand corner you will see a link to log out. It is good practice to log out of Plone when you are finished using it.

Adding content

Adding and editing content

As a site member, you have a folder in the members section where you can store your content. Rather than detailing how to add and edit all the different types of content available, we will cover adding one type of content, a Document, in detail. All content types are added and edited in a very similar manner, so it is mostly a matter of repeating the steps here.

What is a Document?

A document is a page of content, usually a self-contained piece of text. Documents can be written in several different formats, plain text, HTML or Structured Text. The default home page for a Plone site is one example of a document.

Adding a document

To add a document, you will need to be in Contents View mode; the link is available on the left hand side of the page. This mode shows you the list of objects in the folder and lets you edit them. If you do not see the Switch to Contents View link, you do not have permission to add or edit content in this location.

Once you are in Contents View, you will notice a drop down box in the upper right hand corner of the centre panel next to the "add new item" button. This gives you the list of content types you can add in this folder. Select Document from this list, then click add new item. Once a document has been added you are taken immediately to the edit page for that document.

Editing content

Editing a document

The document can be edited directly in the web browser, using the edit form. One thing to note is the highlighted edit tab at the top of the page. There are four fields for a document:

Name: This identifier will become part of the document's web address. It should be short, descriptive and contain no underscores or mixed case. For example, "audit-report-2003". If you do not provide a name, Plone will create one for you.
Title: This item will be shown at the top of the page, in the breadcrumbs, in the search interface, in the title of the browser and so on. This field is required.
Description: This is a short lead in to the document - usually no more than 20 words - to introduce the document and provide a teaser for the remainder of the document.
Body Text: This field contains the body of the document. The format for the content is set using the radio buttons below the field.
Structured Text: The default setting. Structured text is a format for taking plain text and producing HTML without the user having to learn or type HTML. Structured Text references are available by following these links.

If you do have your document as a file on your computer you can upload this instead of typing it into the body text field. Use the upload button at the bottom of the page. The contents of an uploaded file will replace any content in the body field.

Once you have finished editing your document, click the save button. You will be returned to the view tab where you can see how the document will be rendered. To edit it again, click on the edit tab.

If you don't provide correct input on the edit form, when you save the document you will be returned to the edit page and your errors will be highlighted. At this point your changes have not been applied - you must correct the mistakes and click save again.

Object States

An object's state determines whether it is available to the various types of users defined in Plone, and what other states that object can be transitioned to. Plone's default workflow includes four states: visible, pending, published and private.

By default, objects are created in the visible state. All users can find visible objects through the search function and can access them directly by visiting the object url. Visible objects do not show up in the navigation tree. Visible objects within private folders are still visible to all users and available through the search function. Visible objects are editable by their owners and site managers.

Pending objects have been submitted for publishing by site members. From an end-user standpoint, they behave like objects in the visible state. The difference between the two types is that pending objects are flagged for review; site reviewers are prompted to publish or reject pending objects. Pending objects are editable only by managers.

Published items are visible to all site visitors. They appear in search results and the navigation tree. When a News Item becomes published it becomes visible under the News tab and also in the News box. Published items are editable only by managers, but can be retracted by owners for editing (retracting reverts an object to the visible state).

Objects in the private state are visible and editable only by their owners and others with manager access to the folder in which they exist. They will not appear in search results or on the navigation tree for other users. Private items are editable by managers.

Note: Although most objects have their own states, some inherit their states from their parent objects. Forums are an example of this behaviour. Forums within visible or published folders are available to all users through the search function. Forums within private folders are only available to users with access to that private folder.

Owners and managers can change the states of objects they control. The states that are available are controlled by pre-defined transitions. For example, site members can submit visible objects for review or make them private and site reviewers can publish submitted items or reject them. Site managers can also customize this portion of the workflow system.

To change an object's state in contents view, check the box next to the name of the object to be changed and then click the change status button at the bottom of the page. Scroll to the bottom of the Publishing Process page and choose the desired state, then click submit.

One can also change states in item view. Simply click on the state tab, scroll to the bottom of the page, choose the desired state and click submit.

Editing an object after it has been published

Managers may edit objects that are in any state. Members cannot edit an object after it has been published; they must first move it back into a visible state by retracting it. To do this, click on the publishing tab for the object and click retract. Then you can edit the object as much as you wish and resubmit it. This ensures that the review process is maintained for objects that have been edited.

User roles

Plone uses roles to define what different users can see and do. In this way, Plone builds security into every aspect of its operation. The roles defined in a default Plone installation include anonymous, member, owner, reviewer and manger.

Anyone who visits the site and does not log in takes on the anonymous role. In public sites, anonymous users can see published, pending and visible content by directly visiting a url or by searching, however only published content is visible on the site navigation tree. If you have set your site up as private, anonymous users cannot see anything.

Members are users who have logged in to the site. Members have the added ability to create content in their own folder, which is then submitted to site reviewers to be published. In public sites, members can see the same content as anonymous users. In private sites, members have access to published, pending and visible content. Members may also set their own preferences.

As a reviewer, you can publish or reject content submitted by members. When a reviewer logs in, if there is content to be reviewed a "pending" message will appear in their personal bar. A review list also appears in the right-hand column of the page. Reviewers have access to the same content as members.

Members have the owner role for all content they create. This allows them to edit the content, submit or retract it, or make it private. Assigning the owner role to other users is not recommended.

Site managers can see content in all states (visible, pending, published and private). In addition to all the capabilities of the member and reviewer, managers can add, edit, delete and move content. Managers can also add, edit and delete users and assign them roles.

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