What, might you ask, do the CIA and Amnesty International have in common? Both have built their Web sites using the Plone platform. As have SIGGRAPH; Akami; Nokia and Oxfam International. Now that's good company. So what's up with Plone?
Plone is a ready-to-run, open source content management system that allows multiple users to contribute to their organization's Web site. Built on the Zope application server (Zope 2), developers cite easy set-up, flexibility and the ability to handle multiple languages as system strengths. From a technical perspective, the product is based on the Python programming language and is object-oriented - embedding web elements in objects in lieu of using files. This enables the platform to leverage the characteristics of the object-oriented paradigm - like encapsulation. But the environment is not without its challenges, and we hope to see a version based on the updated Zope 3 product sometime soon. That will take some doing, as version 3 is a complete re-write of Zope 2 with the ensuing compatability issues still outstanding.
As it is written, this platform is perfect for non-profits; as well as ideally suited to agencies, associations and large organizations. And it works with almost everything. As it is open source, code can be added and modified by IT hacks to customize the platform around specific needs. And of course, there are no licensing fees. What's not to love?
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Project A Sofware's "Site-in-a-Box" product in this post. Here in southern Oregon, almost every governmental authority and public agency uses this product - and likes it. If you want the "concierge" version of a CMS system and are willing to pay for it, check out Project A's fine offering here.