Thursday, October 19, 2017

Plone Conf 2017 Day 2: Timo Stollenwerk: Building Bridges - The Headless Future of Plone

I decided to try a Maurits van Rees and live blog a conference talk.
Talk by Timo Stollenwerk on Building Bridges - The Headless Future of Plone

Plone's headless future

Working on what we call headless these days started in 2014
You already heard a part of this from the Keynote (about Pastanaga UI etc..) on the first day so I won't repeat that.
My ultimate goal is to bring the vision to reality.

A few observations

  • Mobile is overtaking Desktop (Plone is mobile ready but Pastanaga aims to have the best experience on every device)
  • Open Source is Mainstream (Plone is different, today large open source projects are coming from large players like Facebook and Google, this helps to make open source more mainstream). Github looked at contributions last year and visual studio code was the project that had the most contributions... Microsoft!!)
  • Javascript is taking over (Javascript is becoming more important, if you are a web developer in 2017 you have to learn modern Javascript)
  • The Web is everywhere (I visited my Uncle who is a Doctor, 5 years ago and noted that he was using a web app on his desktop for viewing scans of the body)

In recent studies they discovered that swift is losing popularity because web technologies are taking over. The web is coming back with technologies like Electron (Desktop) and Cordova (mobile)

Isn't it a great time to be a Web, Javascript, Open Source developer in 2017?

We're hearing that the CMS market is dead

If we see it in other sectors we say it is more efficient but when it happens to us we don't want to transform ourselves for the better. I think we are living in exciting times...

If JS is so great why don't we just go with it and build a CMS with Javascript?

Why do we keep using Python and Plone?

  • I love Python (wasn't my first language, but the first one I loved, I still miss Python with every line of Javascript I write). I can live with Javascript for the tooling and the community but would prefer to keep Python. I can't imagine using Node on the backend because I think Python is doing a way better job on the backend.
  • Plone the community. In the last year I've been to Jenkins, CI and testing conferences but there's no place like Plone. 
I went to a JS conference alone. Usually when you go to a conference alone you need to make an effort to talk to persons. Then I went to the sprint but out of 1000 persons there were only 20 or 30 persons at the Sprint. When I speak to Python conference attendees they ask me, how do you get people to come and even pay for a flight to Plone conferences, it's like magic!

  • Plone the Software is still unique (permissions, traversal, workflows)
  • Plone the CMS (as Eric says, Plone is doing Breadcrumbs since 2001) Go out and try all the Javascript CMSes, they all have awful user interfaces, they have nice libraries and everything you can imagine but lack the basic functionality of a CMS. I couldn't just jump and move to another system because I'd only have half or 10% of the current functionailty I have now.  We don't want to become Grandpas and isolate the new JS communities who have lots of energy

What do we have now?

Stabilising JS frameworks, it's not too hard to switch between VueJS, React, Angular. Which one you use depends on if you like a library vs a framework. How do we handle this? We want to give our clients something that can be supported over the next 5 to 10 years. That's a lot of time. If you look at Plone we are able to provide that. How do you handle that? The answer is plone.restapi (restful hypermedia for Plone).

Our idea with plone.restapi is to use it as a bridge. Stability on the backend with flexibility on the frontend. In two or three years the JS ecosystem will change further.

Status of plone.restapi

It is stable and used for 3 years, it is used in production by several companies. We consider plonerest.api to be feature complete.
I asked Eric what is plonerest.api missing, he said "nothing".

I'm just lazy about releasing a 1.0 release.

We can get back to our vision with plone.restapi being stable.

So we can get back to our vision of bridging...? One of our ideas about building with Plone 5

You can use React in the core today, if you want to go with a full framework like Angular you can too. We have 3 branches and the plonerest.api allows us to build bridges between
standard plone and the other branches.

How do we make this happen?

Regarding stories... Victor sometime says to me "Should we really say that, going on stage and telling people about these things? They will expect it to happen."

So who here would like to have Pastanaga UI today and use it. With projects in the Plone community we've building like that...

when we should be building like this..

I believe that if we want to have that we need to start with the Minimal viable product. Something, not just for users but for companies that can give them value right away. I want that skateboard.

What do we need to get that skateboard?

  • Login
  • Content Editing
  • Image upload

That might sound easy but it is not. We're aiming for making Plone stand out, we want people to be like "wow, that's the greatest editing experience I've ever had". I want us to iterate over that and focus on that user story.
I want to make image upload really easy. One thing we need to solve on a technical level, we currently have created a Medium-like editor but we don't have image scaling (something we take for granted in Plone). I want us to have the ability to add the image and have scaling done "magically".

There are things that are essential for an MVP

  • Performance
  • Image uploading
  • SEO

If we don't have this, users will abandon pages. Modern page builders focus on this (e.g. gatsby js is a modern page builder built in ReactJS). If you want to compete we have to provide users with a great out of the box performance. We'll need to use all the tooling, webpack etc...
We will also need server-side rendering. We saw that, without server-side rendering at kitconcept we can't do good SEO.

Visit for details on our projections of a MVP.


We have an open space at the conference and there will be sprints.
Real world projects (if you have any projects and want to use plone.restapi, angular sdk, plone.react, please talk to us)
At kticoncept we have a few projects where will do that
Sponsorship (we may be able to do something on that front)


We have a stable platform in plone.restapi for building bridges
I think Plone's future is bright is we combine our knowledge and experience with the new things
Pastanaga UI is really greate
I hope we can provide you with a roadmap
The great thing about the Plone community is tha tyou start with an idea and...
let's get together and do Plone magic together!


Unknown said...

Well done live blogging!

One problem: I see only the first image (Timo on stage), the other images are not showing up.

David B said...

Thanks @Maurits.
Interesting that the images aren't showing up. I'm definitely seeing them. Fixing them now.

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