Plone 3.3 Site Administration Review

Packt Plone books strike again! Written by well-known Alex Clark and technically reviewed by the re-incident Steve McMahon, Plone 3.3 Site Administration comes to my e-shelf. Being Alex the most dedicated administrator, you can’t expect him to be wrong at how to manage a Plone site. :)

While the book target audience is claimed to be everyone interested in becoming more familiar with how to professionally manage Plone sites, I’ve found most of the book very, very basic. If you know how to use a terminal, a text editor and a browser, you’re likely not going to have many problems following the detailed tiny-step-by-tiny-step instructions provided in the book. However, the reader might feel sometimes like a script-kiddie, executing commands and adding sections to his/her buildout without really understanding fully what he/she’s doing (and why) and thus unable to confidently change the configuration. This is specially true in the last chapters of the book.

The writing style is always casual and easy. Alex gets directly to the point without much bla-bla. The downside is that Alex sometimes uses some concepts (like Five, FSDVs or CMF) in the book without previous introduction or pointers to further documentation. But of course, you can always rely on Google. For some questions the reader might have, Alex has opted for a short-answer/medium-answer/long-answer schema that, while the division is not always perfect, helps the reader to decide how in deep does he/she want to go.

The book is a gentle introduction to buildout and product installation (including basic theming) for absolute beginners, and that’s what the first half of the book is all about, but I had expected a longer treatment of load balancing schemes, cache proxies and settings for optimal performance, load testing, multimedia streaming, development-production products and buildout deployment, apache/nginx configuration for Plone, multiple ZODB mount-points and ZEO configuration, among others. These are the kind of things I would expect an advanced Plone site administrator to master, and what we need proper, comprehensive documentation for.

Summing up, if you fall inside the target audience outlined in the paragraph above, you’re going to like this book. If you’re looking for more hard-core site administration stuff, check out Planet Plone and other online docs.