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09 March 2006

The Easiest CMS on Zope... Zwiki

Install Zwiki, style it, lock it down, done

Remember, Zope is an application server, not a CMS (content management system). A typical beginners mistake while learning Zope is to only use the built-in elements (for example Folder and Page Templates) and push content into these. That is "wanting it the easy way", which is one good recipe to end up with the head on a brickwall while having a velocity above the usual rotation of this planet. "Zope is an application server, not a CMS" means: You need an application to run on Zope. A proper application consists of a bunch of python filesystem based products. One very typical application of that is a CMS. There are some CMS for Zope out there that are well known, but that I don't like so much. One easy, fast, and simple alternative is a closed Zwiki...

The easiest and cleanest CMS on Zope is a Zwiki: Install it, style it, close it to allow editing/commenting only for authorized users, educate those users how to use it. Done. The content model of that is pretty simple. And you might have to follow some guidelines to get a consistent navigation and styling. But for a small company, a personal site, or a small event site (what I would call "a bunch of pages" sites), a zwiki based site is fine. If the users are clever enough to be able to learn structured text or html editing you are rolling real fast. I think some people have even integrated Epoz or Kupu into Zwiki (though I didn't try, stx/html is good enough for me). Want an example? My Greek site in the works is being done this way.

But won't people just change the wiki?

One objection you could have here is "but it's a wiki, people from all over the place will go in and change my pages". Which is the reason why we remove the editing and commenting privileges for anonymous users. That way, the wiki part ("go in and edit any page") is only for our own editors. The wiki turns into a CMS. Anonymous visitors can only see the pages, not change them.

You likely don't need the workflow anyway

A lot of CMS solutions don't need big stuff like workflows. If you don't know what a workflow is here: It's a way to specify that changes to a page have to go through different levels of approval. A writer submits changes to a page. An editor has to check those changes and give his OK. In large organizations maybe a lawyer has to give her OK too. You likely don't need this nightmare. But once you have one of those big systems you will have a huge learning curve explaining your users why they have to click through 7 checkboxes and dialogs to put some small change online (or you might spend the time to switch off the built in workflow). Workflows are not for the small folks.

Mix and match with other Zope products

Some CMS also have lot's of add-on tools, like weblogs, a user forum, image galleries. That is a more valid point to choose a big CMS solution over a "closed" Zwiki solution. Zwiki has some things built in, but not all those. But we should not forget that Zwiki is just one application running on Zope. It can easily be combined with COREBlog (for weblogs), or one of the Zope gallery products, or ... etc. Definitely the work to integrate the layout of these solutions is larger than for plugging in a module into a "big" CMS. But the hard part -- integration of user accounts -- is taken care of by the Zope security and authentication machinery.


Example sites:,,, 2 more in the works.

HowTo:, that site is also "open", so you can look at the user interface, also on

Posted by betabug at 11:02 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
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Re: The Easiest CMS on Zope... Zwiki

Nice betabug! Good to see someone writing about Zwiki. I agree that sometimes it's the most effective CMS. Note various wiki ways of doing workflow have evolved - here's one example.

Epoz integration is easy; install it, select HTML page type, just works. Kupu isn't supported yet.

As you say, Zwiki is a zope app and so it's pretty easy to combine it with other zope products to build sites. I think Zwiki is pretty good at this. Note that it fits right into a Plone or CMF site (or a CPS site with some work), seamlessly using the skin of the larger CMS. Also note you can start with a standalone zwiki, and later move it into Plone with a simple ZMI cut & paste. Or move it back out again.

Posted by: simon at March 09,2006 17:17
Re: The Easiest CMS on Zope... Zwiki

Nice post! i haven't played with zwiki yet, but i'll have to test it.

I manage some plone sites ( is an example) and have worked last months with Zope (webapp development), but I didn't try any other CMS-like Zope product yet.

In my oppinion people choose software of this kind not by its functionality, but by its design. People go around checking the appearance of the whole thing, and the CMS with the coolest theme win. It is not a matter if it is a huge pile of ugly code, or if it eats up all your server, because it is nice-looking.

And about Zwiki... is it too dificult to customize (with some css code or so...)?

Posted by: Wu at March 10,2006 12:26
Re: The Easiest CMS on Zope... Zwiki

I have used many wikis, but I have to say ZWiki is the most simple and easy to use. wiki:

Posted by: Baiju M at September 12,2006 14:14
Re: The Easiest CMS on Zope... Zwiki

Baiju, for me it's usually a convenience thing. Like many people I run Zope anyway, so within 5 minutes I can install a wiki to document a project.

On the other hand, the idea described on this page proposes to use a Zwiki to build a simple content management system, which is somehow more novel.

Posted by: betabug at September 12,2006 14:50
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