Rikupekka Oksanen

From Plone 2, 3, or 4 to Plone 5 - Highlighting 5 Major Changes

April 26th, 2016


 Plone at University of Jyväskylä since 2004

We have used Plone Content Management system at University of Jyväskylä for almost 12 years now.
Our main websites run with Plone and the site serves over 200 000 visitors and 2 000 000  pageviews/month. In addition, we have over 80 other different services built on Plone, using its built-in permission-, workflow- and content management features. These services include e.g. Moniviestin video publishing platform, Koppa study material portal, Opiskelijankompassi and wide array of different kind of forms, some combined with our payments-services. And if you didn't know, Plone is Open-source software.

Read more about Plone usage @ JYU

In this article I will discuss about how we are migrating from older Plone versions to the newest one and how the UI of Plone will radically change in version 5.  

Plone 2 and 3 and 4 work well - why upgrade to Plone 5?

With such history with Plone, there are still some sites or services that have been running with older Plone versions (2.1, 2.5 and 3.3) since 2006. After 2010 we have used only Plone 4.1 and up, the current version in most sites being Plone 4.3.x

For the record, these old sites have been generally rock solid, and there have been security patches even for  Plone 2 -versions.
However, we now want to migrate these sites to Plone 5. There are several good reasons. 

  1. Easier maintentance: We want to get rid of old versions to make our maintenance job easier. To be able to maintain several services with few people, you need to optimize.

But - why didn't we migrate these sites to Plone 4.3? Why wait till Plone 5, which was released late 2015. Well, to be honest, we had more pressing projects to finish, but that's not all there is.

Why we go to Plone 5?

  1. Plone 5 is fun. The user interface is modern, easy to use and the base template is responsive out of the box. It is lighter and faster than the previous versions. There is a cool layout system called Mosaic to use for customized, drag'n drop layouts. 
  2. The customers of the old sites wanted to renew their services - it was a good time to do so with Plone 5.  


Enter Plone 5 - Listing 5 Major Changes

There are many, and to get a complet list, check out https://plone.com/5

Here I will highlight exactly 5 important changes compared to previous versions. These are based on my experience with our new Plone 5 sites. 

1. HTML5 Responsive Theme

"Plone 5's new default theme, Barceloneta, is responsive out the box to work with the full range of mobile devices and is written using HTML5 and CSS3."

See the difference with this example:

This is a capture from www.psykonet.fi using Plone 3 (which we haven't touched in 7 years, but are now migrating to Plone 5).

The site works ok, but there's no mobile device optimation.

Notice how the page is "cut out" on the right with smaller screens.

In Plone 5 this has been taken care of. The default theme is clean and responsive and easy to modify. At our university the default theme will go a long way: just change the logo (through your browser) and change some colors, and that's it:

Theming Plone 5 is easy.

And as said, the default theme is responsive out-of-the-box, so here's the same page in a smaller screen:

Plone 5 is responsive

2. "Green Bar" Replaced with More Powerful Toolbar

"The new toolbar consolidates the personal menu and Plone's longstanding "green bar." The toolbar can be positioned on the left or top of the browser window. With its optional icon text labels, the toolbar gives editors more screen space to focus on what matters: their content."

Here is an example of Plone 3 green toolbar. Its located in content area. On top right there's a personal bar.

The toolbar in Plone 3 is in the middle.

 And here is the same site at Plone 5 with the new toolbar on the left:

Plone 5 toolbar is on the left. Talk about WYSIWYG!

What you see is what you get in this case. All the Plone features are there, but the editing features are neatly separated from content.

At first (like, the first 10 seconds!) with the new toolbar I felt a little out of place with the way of adding and editing, but to be honest, out with the old an in with the new!

We presented Plone 5 briefly in our content managers seminar this april, and the response was generally positive - "When will you upgrade our departmental site to Plone 5, we volunteer!"

We presented Plone 5 briefly in our content managers seminar this april, and the response was generally positive - "When will you upgrade our departmental site to Plone 5, we volunteer!"


3. New TinyMCE 4 web editor

"Plone 5 comes with TinyMCE 4, the gold standard in WYSIWYG web editors. Coupled with new tools to insert links and images, it's easier than ever to craft and customize content."

One of the most important aspects of any CMS is the content editor. Plone 2-3 had Kupu, then came along TinyMCE 1.3.x. Both were quite fine (though different versions of Internet Explorer were struggling with them - but then again, when IE hasn't struggled with something...).

Plone 5 uses the new TinyMCE 4 series visual HTML editor: https://www.tinymce.com/

Kupu at Plone 3:

Kupu editor at Plone 3.2.2

TinyMCE 1.3.x at Plone 4.3.3:

TinyMCE 1.3 at Plone 4.3.

TinyMCE 4 at Plone 5  is clean and robust.

TinyMCE 4 at Plone 5


4. "Faster, Harder, Scooter" - Plone 5 is fast 

"Plone 5 sites are 15%-20% faster now with the new Chameleon templating engine, a fully backwards-compatible replacement that works with existing templates."

As I have been working now with some new Plone 5 sites, they load faster than before, even with thousands of pages of content. Filtering a content view with thousand object loads in split seconds.

I'm really looking forward on seeing how Plone 5 performs with our main website.

5. Bulk Content Editing

"Perform bulk operations to add multiple files and images at once, assign keywords, apply workflow, rename, cut, copy, and delete. Use query filters to quickly find, sort, reorder, and select specific content."

This is a huge improvement over previous versions. In our websites there are hundreds of thousands of content items. In some cases finding a certain file is difficult (see example below).

Over 1000 items in one folder. Plone 4.3.3. No way to filter.

And here is the new Contents view of Plone 5:

Plone 5 folder contents - totally revamped

In Plone 5 there are many, many new or improved features to folder content view:

  • Upload multiple files
  • Show and hide columns
  • Change the amount of shown items
  • Filter items by name (really fast and useful!)
  • Rearrange columns 
  • Bulk rename, copy, paste items
  • Bulk change properties of dates or tags on items
  • Filter through chosen items



Here I have listed 5 most visible changes in Plone 5. And I haven't even mentioned Mosaic layout, which allows content editors to easily create customised layout views for content using just you browser!

But as said, there much more to Plone 5, so check out https://plone.com/5

Examples of Plone 5 sites

Even though most of these are in Finnish, I will provide links to some Plone 5 sites we now have:

In addition to these, we have currently 3 other migrations underway and one preview-site to be published when the content is ready.

Looking forward to more Plone 5 migrations this year!