Do you know the movies where some people discover an alien artefact or space ship and try to find out what it does or get it to work? The scientists carefully examine the alien language, trying to understand strange symbols and getting very unexpected results when fiddling with some switches.
Why am I writing this?
Because in the past weeks I have felt very much like these scientists in trying to work with others to get this Plone site up and running properly.
Plone — like alien spaceships — is of bedazzling complexity and redundant systems of which it is sometimes impossible to tell which is active and which is not. Things seem to work or fail magically, which reminds me of Asimovs quote about magic and technology.
Example: While the user names are stored in a PostgreSQL database and show up properly, their properties table exists, but remains empty. The properties can be set and read, so they are stored somewhere. But it seems impossible to find out where.
Also, Plone — like the obelisk from 2001 — essentially comes without documentation. Some pages exist, but it appears that they are usually outdated or related to a different problem. And the introductions are apparently often written for people who already know the system.
So we often very much felt like cosmonauts making the first trip into space when trying to find the one permission setting among the 200 permission switches that caused folders to be unreadable or blogging to break.
What irked me most was something else, though.
When saying that we would hire someone to get this done properly and finally end the odyssey, it turned out that people who earn their professional living setting up Plone sites told us they did not know those modules and also did not know anyone else who did.
Maybe Plone IS an alien artefact, after all.