Zope and Plone

By Deane Barker on July 26, 2006

I don’t ask for much, dear readers, but I come to you with a question: what is the difference between Zope and Plone? Does anyone have an answer?

I guess we should start with Zope. Zope is a…what? A content management system? An application framework? Deeply bizarre but astoundingly powerful programming platform that I cannot fathom even after skimming the book and installing it twice?

Plone is something built on top of Zope, right? But what? I hear it’s a content management system. But isn’t that what Zope is? And the there’s something floating around the Zope world called “CMF,” which stands for Content Management Framework. Where does this fit in?

Can someone give me the view from 50,000 feet of the Zope family tree? Someone give me a good analogy I can understand. And for bonus points, where did the names come from?

What Links Here


  1. From http://www.zope.org/WhatIsZope

    1. “Zope is an open source web application server…”

    2. “The CMF (Content Management Framework) adds numerous tools and services to Zope to allow community or organization based content management,… “

    3. “Plone is a ready to use content management system that puts a polished interface on top of the CMF.”

    i.e. Plone = Zope + CMF + polished interface

  2. This is a good start, but I’m still looking for a good analogy.

    Zope installs its own Web server, so is Zope like Apache, and Plone is an app you’d build on top of that? No, that doesn’t sound right…

    Can you use Zope + CMF without Plone?

    If CMF and Plone are the content management piece, what is “naked” Zope? I know it’s a Web application server, but could you use it for content management-ish stuff without CMF or Phone?

  3. As seen from my web-dev-turned-to-sysadmin perspective (aka the 2cents worth)..

    Apache = web server who stores and serves content to clients’ browsers

    Zope = application server who stores and run application logic for data manipulation and generation (aka transactions)

    Zope CMF = a set of pre-defined functions (toolkit or library) written in Python for enabling faster application development on Zope

    Phone = an out of the box application written using the Zope CMF for managing dynamic websites

    If you want to content manage websites using CMF alone, then you will need to write code for generating the interface, templates, logic, etc.. in that case then why not use Plone.

    Hope this helps. Else there is always Wikipedia.

  4. If you want an easy analogy: Zope is the AMP part of LAMP Plone is a CMS and portal application built on top of it.

    In other words Zope is not only a web application server, but the database and web server underneath.

    Plone is not only a CMS, but also provides a fair amount of functionality that is beyond a pure CMS.

  5. Zope is an Web-Application Development Enviroment. So kind of an Web-Application IDE …

    Plone is a CMS (Content-Management-System) developed as a Zope-Application using its concept called CMF… (Content-Management Framework).

    So Zope offers the development environment with all the required building blocks (e.g. CMF…) to create the CMS named Plone.

    Have fun … ;-)


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