21. Programming Plone


The most important tool nowadays for plone-developers is the addon plone.api that covers 20% of the tasks any Plone developer does 80% of the time. If you are not sure how to handle a certain task be sure to first check if plone.api has a solution for you.

The api is divided in five sections. Here is one example from each:

plone.api is not yet part of the Plone core. Therefore you will not see any use of plone.api in in Plone itself. It will be part of Plone 5.

In existing code you’ll often encounter methods that don’t mean anything to you. You’ll have to use the source to find out about what they do.

Some of these methods will be replaced by plone.api in the future:

  • Products.CMFCore.utils.getToolByName -> api.portal.get_tool
  • zope.component.getMultiAdapter -> api.content.get_view


Some parts of Plone are very complex modules in themselves (e.g. the while versioning-machinery of Products.CMFEditions). Some of them have an api that you will have to learn sooner or later.

Here are a few examples:


unrestrictedSearchResults() returns search-results without checking if the current user has the permission to access the objects.

uniqueValuesFor() returns all entries in a index

runAllExportSteps() generates a tarball containing artifacts from all export steps.
isProductInstalled() checks wether a product is installed.

Usually the best way to learn about the api of a tool is to look in the interfaces.py in the respective package and read the docstrings.


Here are some tools and techniques we often use when developing and debugging. We use some of them in various situations during the training.

tracebacks and the log
The log (and the console when running in foreground) collect all log-messages Plone prints. When a exception occurs Plone thows a traceback. Most of the time the traceback is everything you need to find out what is going wrong. Also adding your own information to the log is very simple.
The python debugger pdb is the single most important tool for us when programming. Just add import pdb; pdb.set_trace() in your code and debug away!
Enhance pdb with the power of IPython, e.g. tab completion, syntax highlighting, better tracebacks and introspection. It also works nicely with Products.PDBDebugMode.

A addon that has two killer-features.

Post-mortem debugging: throws you in a pdb whenever a exception occurs. This way you can find out what is going wrong.

pdb-view: simply adding /pdb to a url drops you in a pdb-session with the current context as self.context. From there you can do just about anything.

When starting Plone using ./bin/instance debug -O Plone you’ll end up in a interactive debugger.
A addon that allows you to inspect nearly everything. It even has a interactive console and a tester for TALES-expressions.
An addon that allows to reload code that you changed without restarting the site. It is also used by plone.app.debugtoolbar.
A addon that prevents Plone from sending mails. They are instead logged.
Addon that allows to use pdb and ipdb in python skin-scripts. Very useful.
verbose-security = on
A option for the recipe plone.recipe.zope2instance that logs the detailed reasons why a user might not be authorized to see something.
./bin/buildout annotate
A option when running buildout that logs all the pulled packages and versions.
Sentry is a error logging application you can host yourself. It aggregates tracebacks from many sources and (here comes the killer-feature) even the values of variables in the stacktrace. We use it in all our production-sites.

Buildout can create a python-shell for you that has all the packages from your Plone site in it’s python-path. Add the part like this:

recipe = zc.recipe.egg
eggs = ${instance:eggs}
interpreter = zopepy