Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review for "Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" by Alex Clark

Book Review for "Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" by Alex Clark.

Are you a Plone administrator or content editor? If so, there's a new book from Packt that's worth your attention.

"Plone 3.3 Site Administration: Manage your site like a Plone professional" guides the reader through site installation and configuration of many useful add-ons. The tool of choice for a modern Plone site is 'zc.Buildout', and this book makes extensive use of buildout in each chapter as the author guides the reader from a basic Plone site to one well adorned with add-ons to enhance the appearance, functionality, and scalability of the site.

One thing I'd like to emphasize is that this book is all about configuration of these add-ons. As an example, the book will introduce the reader to some desirable non-standard bit-- let's say the Varnish HTTP accelerator-- and give step-by-step instructions on how to get Varnish downloaded and configured for your Plone site. What's missing is an overview of exactly what Varnish is. There are no diagrams and not much text explaining how it works. This pattern is repeated nearly everywhere-- you get the buildout configuration (and the response to expect when running buildout), but it's up to you to get your head wrapped around exactly what it is that you're adding to your site. I find this ok, given that the book is targeted to readers who are already site administrators and should recognize most of the products we're dealing with. (For the products that I didn't recognize, Google was able to round out my education, so I didn't feel slighted.) I did think this was an important thing to point out so a first-time reader of the book will recognize what's in store in this book.

There's a lot of good advice that's not Plone specific. Best practices regarding version control of configurations, database maintenance, database packing, and more are covered. These are the sort of thing that an experienced administrator will see value in, and a new administrator will appreciate having spelled out for them. (One way or another, new administrators will adapt policies like these. Maybe after reading some text and realizing the value, maybe after getting burned once or twice and learning it the hard way.) In that regard, even one of these tips is probably worth the price of the book.

I continue to be impressed by the Plone community and the effort they have put forth to build the impressive ecosystem around this impressive CMS. This one's for the admins, an audience that probably doesn't get as many books as they should.

The book can be found here.

Happy Administering!


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