Plone and construction industry: brain dumpΒΆ

Tags: aec, plone

High time to dump some ideas on using Plone for the construction industry. I’m not currently working with Plone professionally anymore. And I’m also not working in the construction industry. I’ve however been asked for my ideas :-)

  • Plone is a great collaboration website. Users, groups, permissions: everything is build-in. And such security and division of edit/view rights is central to many construction industry web-based solutions.
  • Storing pages, documents, powerpoints, drawings in a flexible folder hierarchy: that’s what plone is all about.
  • Workflow: Plone has multiple workflows and you can customize your own. So Plone will almost certainly support all your review, control, worklist and permission needs.
  • Possible drawback: Plone is somewhat resource-hungry, so the hosting costs will not be really low. But the license costs will beat the crap out of many other options: totally free and a mighty set of out-of-the-box functionality.

But that’s just standard plone. We can do better. Grab a decent Plone company (like zest software) and get them to customize Plone for you.

  • Tagging support. There are categories in Plone, but that’s quite limited. Use an add-on or add support for your own (or a re-used) classification or ontology.
  • Figure out what you need next to pages, documents and whole drawing files. Chop them up. Smaller parts mean more detailed search results and more detailed tagging.
  • Specialized needs? Plone is customizable. If you chopped up your information (into separate Plone content types) you can start exporting the information in those pieces as XML or whatever format you desire. Look at RDFa, or so-called microformats, even google is starting to use them.
  • Important: really work at it to make it all a bit granular: no huge documents or drawing files, but smaller pieces. Coupled with good export (xml, rdfa, json, etc) options, you can try and see if others want to use your data or want to integrate your formats with their applications. Make it easy.

So, that’s my brain dump for now. I’ve got a load of more elaborate ideas in my PhD thesis (html) (or pdf) in case you’re up to reading it :-)

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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