Plock Rocks#

Pip installs Plock. Plock installs Plone.

Plock Meme

Understanding Plock#

To understand Plock, you must understand:

  • The undisputed complexity of the Plone stack [1].
  • My desire to simplify, clarify and reduce-to-bare-elements everything I touch.
  • My willingness to mask complexity when eliminating it is not possible, despite the risk of contributing to it.

Pyramid author Chris McDonough [2] once made a comment a long time ago to the effect: “Let’s stop piling more crap on top of Plone” and that sentiment still resonates today. That’s why even though I love small and useful tools like Plock, it pains me to know what Plock is doing “under the hood” [7]. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to write it because not having it is worse.

Before I tell you what Plock is [8], let me briefly describe what Plone is.

What is Plone, really?#

What is the complexity I mention above? Briefly, with as few loaded statements as possible:

  • Zope2 “application server”. This is something you can pip install but the results will not be usable [3].

  • Zope2 add-ons AKA “products”, most notably the Zope2 Content Management Framework (CMF). This is something you install on top of Zope2 (conceptually but not literally, pip install Products.CMFCore) that provides typical content management features e.g. personalization, workflow, cataloging, etc.

  • Zope3 technologies e.g. the Zope Component Architecture (ZCA). These are things that are included-or-integrated with Zope2 and Plone. [4]

  • Buildout technologies e.g. setuptools, console scripts, recipes, extensions, etc. You can’t easily build Plone without them, so we may as well declare them as dependencies.

  • Plone technologies. Plone was originally known as a “skin for CMF” but has become much more than that.

    • Archetypes Legacy content type framework.
    • Dexterity Modern content type framework based on modern Zope concepts e.g. “Reuse over reinvention”.
    • Diazo Modern theming engine based on XSLT that “maps Plone content to generic website themes.”

In total, if you pip install Plone over 200 Python packages are installed [5].

What is Plock, really?#

OK now it’s time to explain Plock. Plock is something:

  • you install from PyPI via pip install plock. “Pip installs packages. Plock installs Plone.”
  • you use to install Plone without having to know about tarballs or Buildout.
  • you use to install Plone add-ons without having to know about Buildout.

In one sentence: Plock runs Buildout so you don’t have to, at least initially.

First steps with Plock#

Step #1#

The first step with Plock [9] is that light bulb moment when you say to yourself: “I’ve heard that Plone is the ultimate open source enterprise CMS and I’d love to try it!” But you aren’t willing to download a compressed archive and run the installer nor are you willing to pip install zc.buildout and figure the rest out for yourself. Enter Plock.

Step #2#

The second step with Plock is knowing that it exists you can install it with: pip install plock.

Step #3#

The third step with Plock is using it to install Plone:

$ plock plone
Creating virtualenv... (plone)
Installing buildout...
Downloading installer (
Unpacking installer...
Unpacking cache...
Installing eggs...
Installing cmmi & dist...
Configuring cache...
Running buildout...
Done, now run:
  plone/bin/plone fg

Now Plock’s work is done; visit the following URL: http:://localhost:8080 and you should see:

Plock Screen 1

Create a Plone site:

Plock Screen 2

Start using Plone:

Plock Screen 3

Next steps with Plock#

Plock is more than just a way to install the latest stable version of Plone quickly and easily. It’s also a way to find and install Plone add-ons quickly and easily, and a way to install almost any version of Plone including the upcoming Plone 5 release.

Installing Add-ons#

Step #1#

List all Plone-related packages on PyPI:

$ plock -l
1) 73.unlockItems                           - A small tool for unlocking web_dav locked item in a plone portal.
2) actionbar.panel                          - Provides a (old) facebook style action panel at the bottom of your  Plone site
3) adi.init                                 - Deletes Plone's default contents
4) adi.samplecontent                        - Deletes Plone's default content and adds some sample content
5) adi.slickstyle                           - A slick style for Plone portals, easily extendable for your own styles.
6) affinitic.simplecookiecuttr              - Basic integration of jquery.cookiecuttr.js for Plone 3
7) anthill.querytool                        - GUI for AdvancedQuery with some extensions - searching the easy way for Plone
8) anthill.skinner                          - Skinning for plone made easy
9) anz.dashboard                            - Plone netvibes like dashboard implementation
10) anz.ijabbar                              - Integrate iJab(an open source XMPP web chat client recommended by to your plone site.
1,352) zopeskel.diazotheme                      - Paster templates for Plone Diazo theme package
1,353) zopeskel.niteoweb                        - Paster templates for standard NiteoWeb Plone projects
1,354) zopyx.ecardsng                           - An ECard implementation for Plone
1,355) zopyx.existdb                            - Plone-ExistDB integration
1,356) zopyx.ipsumplone                         - Lorem ipsum text and image demo content for Plone
1,357) zopyx.multieventcalendar                 - A multi-event calendar for Plone 3.X
1,358) zopyx.plone.cassandra                    - Show all assigned local roles within a subtree for any Plone 4 site
1,359) zopyx.plone.migration                    - Export/import scripts for migration Plone 2+3 to Plone 4
1,360) zopyx.smartprintng.plone                 - Produce & Publisher server integration with Plone
1,361) zopyx.together                           - Plone integration with together.js

Step #2#


Plock currently only supports the initial creation of buildout.cfg, so if you have already run plock once and you want to install add-ons you’ll have to use -f to overwrite buildout.cfg.

Pick a few interesting things and install them:

$ plock plone -i "Products.PloneFormGen collective.plonetruegallery eea.facetednavigation"
Creating virtualenv... (plone)
Installing buildout...
Downloading installer (
Unpacking installer...
Unpacking cache...
Installing eggs...
Installing cmmi & dist...
Configuring cache...
Installing addons...
Running buildout...
Done, now run:
  plone/bin/plone fg

Now you should see your add-ons available in Plone:

Plock Screen 6

Upgrading Plone#

Step #1#

Realize Plock has created a buildout.cfg file you can edit with a text editor.

Step #2#

Also realize Plock hosts Buildout configuration files called Pins you can extend from your local buildout.cfg file [10].

Step #3#

Edit your buildout.cfg file. Change the first extends URL from:

extends =


extends =

Run Buildout and start Plone:

$ bin/buildout
$ bin/plone fg

Enjoy the Plone 5 running man:

Plock Screen 5


Cut and paste this into a terminal:

pip install plock; plock plone; plone/bin/plone fg

Now open http://localhost:8080 and happy Ploning.

Plock 0.3.0 is out! Install with pip install plock and report issues here:


[1]Whether or not dealing with the complexity is worth it, I will not address. Suffice it to say, plenty of folks still use and care about Plone and with a Plone 5 release pending, there is excitement building.
[2]He probably made it many times, and rightfully so.
[3]You can create an “instance” after pip install zope2 with bin/mkzopeinstance but $INSTANCE/bin/runzope fails with ImportError: cannot import name _error_start probably due to mismanaged package versions. Maybe we can fix this with version specs included in a dummy package’s
[4]The integration is not seemless, an undisputed fact as far as I know.
[7]Creating and executing a buildout.cfg file for the end user. Buildout configuration files are written in INI-style text. Ideally the end user sees this file and says “Ah, now I understand how this works.”
[8]I’ve also covered Plock before here.
[9]As someone familiar with Python and a UNIX shell already, because that is the market I like to serve.
[10]Yes, there is a security and/or reliability issue with doing this; you are clearly trading security and reliability for convenience.