Trevor James writes "Plone 3 Multimedia is an excellent book focusing on adding multimedia including images, audio and video files to a Web site built using the Plone 3 CMS. Overall this book has a nice balance and mix of text, screenshots and code. I recommend the book for Plone power users including Plone developers and users who want to enhance and expand their core Plone multimedia arsenal. You'll get more out of this book if you already have a Plone site running but want to add more multimedia based capabilities to it." Read on for the rest of Trevor's review.Chapter 1 gives us an intro to the Plone, CMS and multimedia universe with concise definitions of terms such as CMS, Zope architecture, Buildout, and multimedia and tells us why we should be using the Plone CMS to host and store multimedia content. Chapter 1 concludes with a look at the Plone4Artists project which extends the core Plone CMS to add multimedia rich features for musicians and artists who need powerful Web sites for their audio and image based content. Plone4Artists adds modules for handling images, audio, video, events and calendars, and tags.
|Plone 3 Multimedia|
|summary||Focuses on adding multimedia including images, audio and video files to a Web site built using the Plone 3 CMS|
Chapter 2 gets things started by using the Plone 3 CMS to post image content. The author reviews how we can leverage the Plone core Image type to post image files. While reading Chapter 2 I followed along with my own Plone 3 local install so I could work on the tutorials and recipes hands-on as the author presented them. I started out by adding some images to my Plone site and followed the author's instructions on transforming and resizing the image. Gross gives code-based recipes for restricting image dimensions and file size to a specific user. He also shows us how to access images using code in our page templates, via a Python code method, and how to add images to custom content types using code. There's a lot of code and detailed analysis provided just in the first 25 pages of the book and you really get your money's worth just from this chapter on image manipulation. This chapter will interest developers and users of Plone who want to dive into the code and find out how images are being manipulated behind the scenes.
Gross moves on to show us how to organize our images into views which are essentially folders that contain images. The folders provide thumbnails of our images and are clickable to larger scales. We learn how to post a page and then use the Plone Kupu text editor to browse for an image from our folders and upload that image to our page. Gross points out that you can search for images by keyword (and by using wildcards) within the Kupu editor — a powerful feature if you have a ton of images. Then he tells us how to customize various elements of Kupu functionality using code, including tweaking CSS. Gross shows us how to take the tweaks we've made and make them easily persistent across our site's functionality by creating a boilerplate. There's a lot of code in this section of chapter 2 and developers will get a lot of expert tips and examples here.
Having an interest in Web services and how to get image content from Picasa and Flickr into Plone and other CMS-driven sites I was pleased to see Gross show us how to enhance our images using the p4a.ploneimage product; and how to build galleries of our images using the collective.plonetruegallery product. Gross installs the product, configures it and then accesses Flickr and Picasa data. He concludes the chapter looking at another gallery product called slideshowfolder. Gross shows that there are lots of methods for enhancing your Plone site using images and displaying the images as rich interactive galleries.
Chapter 3 covers adding audio content to your site in the same exhaustive detail as the image chapter. I like the discussion of how to choose the best audio format for your Web site. Gross shows us how to enhance our audio player widgets on the Plone site using the p4a.ploneaudio product. There's a lot of detail provided on setting up metadata for our audio libraries and collections. Building custom audio players and using the Flowplayer, a commonly used Flash-based player on open source driven CMS sites. Gross even shows us differences between embedding audio content using HTML 5 vs. HTML 4 and he concludes the chapter building a player using HTML 5. Another exhaustively detailed chapter.
Chapter 4 gives us tutorials on adding video content, including streaming and embedding videos on your Plone site. Gross gives us a tour of the p4a.plonevideo product and the embed version of the product which allows us to embed externally hosted videos (from YouTube, Yahoo! video, and blib.tv). Flowplayer for videos is also presented. The chapter follows the same outline and format as the audio chapter.
Chapter 5 covers adding Flash content to your Plone site and a lot of background discussion on Flash and how best to embed Flash using the Kupu text editor in Plone. Various Plone based Flash products are discussed. Gross also discusses using Silverlight and adding Silverlight content to a Plone site. This is a great topic to be included in this title. Being a Drupal developer I'm hoping that there is more discussion soon in print titles on how to integrate Silverlight content with Drupal sites. So it's nice to see this topic in a Plone book.
Chapter 6 and 7 deal with general content organization concepts and best practices, and syndication opportunities for your Plone site. Gross gives examples of using Dublin core metadata; and managing content using Plone based categories and keywords. Setting up glossaries of content, tagging content and integrating GoogleMaps is also discussed. RSS and Atom are given detailed attention as well here. These chapters should interest any Plone user or developer since it deals with more general Plone concepts and not just focusing on multimedia.
Chapter 8 looks at more advanced upload strategies. Gross spends time showing us how to create bulk uploads on our site using products such as collective.uploadify. Muliuploads is a huge plus and benefit for using Plone as your CMS and this chapter will interest anyone who wants to get large amounts of images into their Web site. Following on this topic Gross tells us how best to store our files and content in chapter 9. Again this topic will be of great interest to site managers and administrators who are in charge of keeping tabs on where content is being hosted and stored. System and server administrators may find some enlightenment in this chapter for dealing with hosting large amounts of CMS-driven multimedia content. Finally chapter 10 covers performance issues including server optimization and site caching mechanisms.
The Appendixes contain a wealth of information for developers including explanations of multimedia formats and licenses. I appreciated Gross' definitions of various codecs and the differences between various lossless codecs and comparisons with lossy codecs. Just the detail on the MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 and Ogg Vorbis is encyclopedic and I'd most likely look here first before going to another resouces like Wikipedia. There's a ton of good information on licensing and the differences between Creative Commons Attribution licenses, Attribution Share Alike, No Derivatives, Non-commercial and more.
Appendix B contains details and explanation of syndication formats including RSS, RSS 2.0 and Atom. Example XML files for both Atom and RSS 2.0 feeds are given. MediaRSS is also explained in great detail. Finally Appendix C gives links to a large amount of resources and tutorials on how to use Plone for multimedia and links to various segments of the Plone support community including IRC chat.
Overall I'm pleased with this title. It's another great open source and CMS based resource from Packt Publishing and Tom Gross has added required reading to the expanding library of titles on Plone. If you're a Plone user or developer geared towards working with a lot of multimedia content this book belongs in your collection.
You can purchase Plone 3 Multimedia from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.