Nov 08, 2011
State of the three D's: Dexterity, Diazo eta Deco. That was 'the' presentation of the 2011 Plone Conference at San Francisco. These are our impressions about these products.

This was the main presentation at PloneConf 2011. Martin Aspeli, Laurence Rowe, David Glick and Rob Gietema showed the basis of Plone 5 to the audience. A basis built around three products.


Martin Aspeli has long been working on this, a substitute for the Archetypes model. Archetypes and Dexterity both let developers create new element types. You know, besides, the Pages, News-items, and other elementos of Plone, any given project needs its own kind of elements. Now, with Dexterity, these ekements can be created from the website itself, then export them, and build a product with that.

This idea sounds familiar to us. In the time of CPS there was something like that. Yet, there are novelties in the approach and we're going to study it further. Dexterity has pros and cons. Among the pros, it is simple and fast. The cons: internationalization and multilingualism still not functional; the community hasn't agreed yet on a shared way to create multilingual element types. However, steps have been taken in that direction, and a new product holds some promise:


Diazo is a product that lets developers change the look of Plone sites. On its basis, ther are XSLT transformations. That is, you create HTML unconnected to Plone, and it is inserted into Plone templates seamlessly, without affecting the core of Plone processes.

With Diazo, instead of writting complicated XSLT transformations, you manage a simple XML file that eases the process. Diazo is already available and several developers are already using it with success.


Of the three D's, perhaps Deco is the one less developed so far. It is a new method to edit pages. Makes use of Javascript to alter the look of pages. Creators call it "Layouts on steroids". The product is out there in the jungle, but further development is also needed.

A lightning talk around Diazo

Besides that main presentation, we heard about one of those product in one of the interesting Lightning Talks. The Plone team from Washington university have shown us how they design different parts of their complex and varied website using Diazo. Amazing template and look variations can be easily managed, when you master the right tools. A beautiful & complex Diazo theme, indeed.


Another thing we learnt from them: the extended navigation menu shown on the bottom part of websites, which has become usual also in our sites, has a name in the US: Obama Navigation. Looks like the Barack Obama candidacy used it in the presidential campaign for the 1st time.

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