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Plone 4

Latest Release of Plone open source Content Management System

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Table of Contents:

What’s New in Plone 4

Plone 4 shipped in September 2010. It focuses on increased speed, scalability, and ease-of-use — and offers simple installation for both new sites and upgrades.


Plone is a powerful, polished and user-friendly content management system. If you are already familiar with Plone, you'll find that Plone 4 is an easy, rewarding upgrade that delivers immediate benefits to end-users, content editors and developers alike. If you're new to Plone, welcome aboard! We think you're going to like what you see.

Plone 4 is...


  • Blazing fast. Plone 4 is about 50% faster than Plone 3 overall, with big improvements for both anonymous and logged-in users. Plone is one of the fastest open-source CMS platforms on the market.
  • Beautiful. Plone 4 features a brand-new default theme called "Sunburst." It's sleek, minimalist, modern and easy to customize.
  • Easy to use. Plone 4's user interface has been polished and refined so it's even more intuitive. Plone 4 includes a new graphical HTML editor (TinyMCE), improved default configuration settings and more.
  • Easy to install + upgrade. Like previous versions of Plone, we provide point-and-click installers for Windows, Mac and Linux. You can be up and running in under 10 minutes. Plone 4 is an easy upgrade from Plone 3.


Significant performance improvements

Plone has a strong track record in performance, but the web is busier than ever and there's never time to rest on our laurels.  Performance tuning was a major focus of Plone 4, and we're proud to show you the results.  Plone 4 is about twice as fast as Plone 3 was under high loads, and up to four times faster than Plone 2.5. It also uses much less memory than previous releases, which lets you squeeze even more performance out of a given amount of hardware.

Plone's also faster than many of its open-source competitors. Here's a simple comparison of some well-known open source CMSes from the lower end of the spectrum that are usually considered decent performers. Higher bars are faster.

Plone 4 vs Plone 3 Performance

Note: all of these systems ship with caching disabled by default, and that is how we tested. Appropriate caching can significantly improve the performance of all systems by 100× or more. But at that point, you're comparing the performance of your caching proxy or database caching layer, not the CMS itself — which is an important distinction.

Intuitive visual editing

Plone has shipped with a built-in graphical HTML editor since Plone 2.1, released in 2005.  (It amazes us that some open-source CMSes still don't include a graphical HTML editor as a core feature!)

In Plone 4, we've upgraded our graphical HTML editor to TinyMCE, a continually updated and improved editor that is widely used by many open-source and commercial products. TinyMCE offers improved usability, easier customization and a few new features, including:

  • Improved image upload and insertion dialogs
  • Strong support for HTML table editing (a weak area of our previous editor)
  • Better support for inserting Flash content and other embedded content
  • Easier inserting of hyperlinks
  • Find and replace

Intuitive Visual Editing


Search and indexing improvements

Plone has long had the best out-of-the box search experience of any Content Management System out there, with innovative features like LiveSearch, our instant-feedback search box. Plone 4 improves searching in two important ways.

Advanced Search Form improvements

The advanced search form in Plone has always been a bit intimidating, and our users have asked for more options to be made accessible. Well, here they are!

More Search Options

With Plone 4, the advanced search form hides less relevant sections, so you can expand the ones you need, and more easily ignore the ones you don't. It's a simple change that makes people much more comfortable with creating refined searches.

It also hides options based on your permissions in the site, so you never get form fields you can't make use of.


Group dashboards for a customized user experience

Plone 4 introduces Group Dashboards – a big win for intranets looking to take their customized user offering to the next level

Plone 4 allows portlets, the elements used to display information within the page interface, to be assigned to users on a group-by-group basis. This means you can create content that will just show up for users in a particular department, specialty, or even project – focusing their attention on the information they need most while hiding it from users who don’t need to see it. You get a more user-centered intranet experience, and avoid information overload caused by content a user doesn’t need eating up valuable screen real estate.


Group Dashboards

Massively improved handling of large files & media

Plone 4 now stores all file and image data on the file system rather than in one big database file. This improves performance and reduces resource consumption without giving up storing multiple revisions of the same file or fine-grained access control. We also support versioning of assets, so you can revert to an earlier version of any uploaded file.


Support for large binary files (like audio, video, PDF documents) and downloadable files has been rewritten from the ground up with focus on performance, reduced memory consumption, and convenience.

The result is a massive improvement in how Plone handles large files. The files are still handled by the same proven database technology and thus still have the powerful, fine-grained access control you count on Plone to provide.  But now, Plone 4 handles large files without breaking a sweat.

Real-world numbers

But enough talk, how does this actually affect your site in real life? Let's take a look at a recent, real-world example from a large Plone site:

Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research had a 16.5 GB database containing documents and other media:

  • Upgrading the entire site to the new, filesystem-based storage: 51 minutes.
  • Plone database size: reduced from 16.5 GB to 3.0 GB.
  • Memory footprint on the heavily cached server: reduced from 10 GB to 3 GB.
  • Load on the site while in heavy use: reduced to 10-20% of the previous CPU usage, with no intermittent massive spikes, as had been the case with Plone 3.
  • File transfers were faster, with no discernable increase in memory usage while large documents were being downloaded.

Plone 4's new large files implementation has been field tested on large production installations during the beta process, and we're confident you'll find that Plone 4 delivers massive performance and resource usage improvements on sites with multi-gigabyte data stores.


More powerful management of users and groups

Plone 4 brings many improvements to user & group management.


Without users, there wouldn't be much content to manage.  So we're excited to bring you a great set of improvements to the everyday experience of creating and managing new users in your Plone site.  Plone 4 includes:

  • Streamlined user creation process for administrators — Plone 4 lets you create new user accounts for your site faster than ever before, and allows you to choose groups for users while creating them.
  • Full support for nested groups — Groups can now contain other groups, making it easier and faster to give everybody exactly the permissions they need.
  • Improved user management — We've overhauled the entire user interface for managing user and groups to make everything faster, easier and more consistent.
  • Flexible user registration — You can now show and hide user profile fields on member registration forms. A new user data framework allows for easily extensible member registration and profile fields.
  • A new login option — Allow your users to log in using either username or email address.


Reduced memory footprint

Plone 4 uses less memory and uses it more efficiently, thanks to numerous improvements in our software stack.


Plone 4 brings several behind-the-scenes improvements that work together to reduce its memory footprint and let you squeeze more performance out of your hardware.  On average, Plone 4 uses about 20% less RAM than Plone 3. Even better, Plone's memory consumption no longer grows over time but remains constant after initial caches are filled up.

We achieve these impressive improvements through a variety of approaches.  First, Plone 4 handles translation files in a smarter and more memory-efficient way. Plone 4 also uses Python 2.6, which improves memory handling and garbage collection and allows Python to give unused memory back to the operating system.

The other major feature we've added that reduces the memory footprint is a new version of the Zope Object Database (ZODB) that includes support for storing and serving large files (aka "BLOBs") directly from the file system. This means that Plone uses a lot less memory when serving, receiving and storing files and images.