Or: "What's wrong with a plain old Zope instance"?

This tutorial shows how to install Plone 3 into a buildout, and how to use that buildout when working on a software project that extends Plone. A buildout is a self-contained environment where you can manage the dependencies (including Zope and Plone and any third-party products or libraries you need) and custom code for your project. Even if you are not planning on writing any custom code, the buildout approach is an easy way to install Plone in a robust, well-tested manner. As of Plone 3.2, all of the installers are now buildout based.

Prior to Plone 3.0, most developers and users who did not use a GUI installer, would set up a Zope instance, drop in a few products into the Products folder, and be done with it. Unfortunately, this approach has a few problems:

  • Plain old Zope instances are not very well equipped to deal with packages distributed as python eggs or using setuptools namespace packages. Many new packages in Plone 3 are made in this way, and more and more third party modules will be as well.
  • Without access to the metadata that is held in eggs, developers may find it too time-consuming or confusing to factor their work into multiple packages that are more re-usable, preferring monolithic products that are impossible to re-use outside Zope.
  • Without any further tools, it is cumbersome to repeat a setup across different environments.

As eggs become more important, developers should look to employ more appropriate tools for managing their code. zc.buildout, hereafter referred to only as "buildout" is one such tool. This tutorial shows how to use buildout for day-to-day development as well as deployment.

More buildout documentation and background

Buildout was created by Jim Fulton of Zope Corporation, and is documented in depth at: