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Whiskers - a tool for keeping track of your buildouts

Few years ago I released a first version of Whiskers together with buildout.sendpickedversions. It's about the time to push new version out.

What is Whiskers?
Whiskers is a Pyramid web application which stores information about your buildouts so that you don't have to manually check what they contain. All the data to Whiskers is transferred by buildout.sendpickedversions - an buildout extension which keeps track of packages your buildout uses and sends the data in json-format to Whiskers-server.

Reason for Whiskers?
Main reason for me to develop Whiskers was based on the need of knowing what packages I have in our servers. I'm working at the University of Jyväskylä and part of my job is to maintain our Plone instances. We have about 100 Plone instances with slightly varying setup. If we needed a new version of some specific package it meant lots of work to have a list of Plone-sites which needed the update. With Whiskers I know what to update after few clicks.

New tricks
Recent posts

cd under development packages nested folders without repeating yourself

To me Plone development environment means Fedora 12, terminator and vim. As I do lots of development in the shell there has been one annoying little thing which I'm tired of - cd:ing under development packages inner structure to where the actual code lives.


Doesn't seem much but if you repeat that many times a day you'll get tired of it. Of course you can always launch vim for the package root and open the file you wanted from there, but it's still extra effort.

Few weeks ago me and my colleague Jussi Talaskivi started to think that there has to be a script which takes you to your destination simply by parsing dotted name and using information from there to cd you to the correct place. After spending some time googling around we found none. Annoyed by this we decided to do this missing script by ourself.

Soon it turned out that this wasn't that easy task as it sounds - simple shell or python script where you just parse correct path from arguments wouldn't do t…

Plone RPM deployment

It's been ages since I wrote my last post. I guess now it's time to make that up with post about Plone deployment. In a last few months I've had chance to invest part of my time at work to develop our Plone deployment model and since there hasn't been that many posts about the subject I thought I'd share my experiences for the community.

Before I get to the details here's some background information about the environment I've been dealing with. I'm working at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Our university is a heavy weight Plone adopter here in Finland. Plone is in use by every faculty and department. We have about 500 - 700 content managers and about 50 - 60 separate Plone instances. Our front page gets about 2 - 3 million hits page views / month. The important information in previous data is the amount of instances. 50 - 60 is just my estimation about our current status and that amount is increasing every year. I'm sure you got the idea so I&…

Plone 4, ZEO and supervisor

This post belongs also to the "lessons learned" category.

With Plone 3, ZEO and supervisor combination you've probably configured your supervisor to start plone instances by running $BUILDOUT/parts/client1/bin/runzope.

Problem is that with Plone 4 your $BUILDOUT/parts/client folder doesn't contain anything else than etc folder. You know starting instances by targeting supervisor to use $BUILDOUT/bin/client1 fg doesn't work like you'd expect (supervisor would control the client1 script - not the actual plone process).

My colleague Jussi Talaskivi figured that using 'console' argument instead of 'fg' for bin/client1 script should do the trick. With 'console' argument stopping, starting and restarting Plone 4 instances with supervisor works like a charm.

Below is full example of working supervisor configuration.

[buildout] parts = supervisor [supervisor] recipe = collective.recipe.supervisor port = 8200 user = xxxx password = xxxx pr…

Plone 4, ZEO and tempstorage

This is reminder for myself and hopefully for other people too so that they don't have to waste several hours of valuable time looking for this simple piece of information.

If you have experience setting up Plone 3 with ZEO and tempstorage (so that your sessions won't disappear in the middle of hardcore content managing) you might have trouble setting up same kind of setup while using Plone 4.

Thanks to David Glick who enlightened  me that plone.recipe.zeoserver doesn't include whole Zope 2 in it's Python environment anymore. In this specific scenario this means that even though you have tempstorage in your eggs folder it isn't included in pythonpath when zeoserver part is being processed and this leads to below error message:

Error: could not load package tempstorage: No module named tempstorage
Package name: 'tempstorage'
File name: 'component.xml'
Package path: None
For help, use bin/zeo-server -h


Solution to this is to add this simple oneliner to…

Usability and Plone

I've seen in here and there someone mentioning that usability of Plone is very good. Lot's of people - me included - like the fact that in Plone you don't have separate content management interface compared to some of Plones rivals. That counts for something when we're talking about good usability. Still that is only one quite small part of the whole picture. So what else is there? What do people like in Plone and where are the rough edges for end users? If general consensus is that Plone does have good usability, where is the actual proof of that?

On plone.org I found one page in developer documentation mentioning following: "Plone differentiates itself on usability. The intuitiveness of the user interface is what attracts people to Plone the most."


I interpret this sentence meaning about the "one view for all" approach. What bugs me in this is that this whole sentence about good usability is about how the UI works compared to Plones competitors. S…

Speed comparsions between Plone and Wordpress

Jon Stahl wrote recently a blogpost about Plone being three times faster than Dropal, Joomla and Wordpress. We had a small discussion about this in my workplace and as my colleague pointed out this wasn't a really that comprehensive test that you could state Plone being 3 times faster than it's competitors. This seemed a bit unfair test considering how fast this has been spread in tweet/blogosphere, so I decided to repeat the test with a bit more critical viewpoint.


What's wrong in the original test? No one would consider opinion poll with 10 answers nowhere near trustworthy - it's all the same with requests. I didn't want to put up all the cms so I just set up second best (Wordpress 2.9.1) and compared that to my Plone development site (4.0a3). As a comparsion I did the first test with same ab command Jon used and my iMac gave following results:


Wordpress: 7.13 requests / second
Plone: 17.10 requests / second


So far we have clear winner and Jons data holds up... almos…