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Stupid ZMI Tricks

written by Rob McBroom on Thursday December 11, 2014
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Zope logoThe Zope Management Interface (ZMI) is the web interface for interacting with the Zope framework, which Plone runs on. As a new Plone developer, here are some of the things I've found useful within the ZMI.

When do you use the ZMI?

The short answer is "When you can't do something in site setup.", but there's more to it than that. For instance, it's a good place to look up the names and locations of things when writing code.

How do you access the ZMI?

To access the ZMI, you can simply add /manage to the end of any URL in Plone (though you’ll typically want to do it at the top of the site). Alternatively, you can go into Site Setup and select Zope Management Interface from the Plone Configuration section.


GenericSetup Changes

If you want to automate something using GenericSetup and aren't sure exactly what to create, or where, you can often find out this way:

portal snapshot screenshot

  1. Go to portal_setup and click the Snapshots tab.
  2. Create a snapshot.
  3. Make the desired changes using the Plone interface.
  4. Return to portal_setup and create another snapshot.
  5. While still in portal_setup, click the Comparison tab.
  6. Select the two snapshots and click Compare.

This will hopefully show the path to the XML files you need to create or modify in your policy package, as well as the changes you need to make there.

Explore the Catalog

Under the portal_catalog, the Catalog tab will allow you to explore containers and content objects in your site. This is a good way to discover what properties are available, or to confirm that something exists.

The Indexes tab is useful when you're attempting to create custom collections. You can browse the indexes to see if criteria are being assigned to objects as expected.


Exploring Types

The portal_types section is very helpful for learning about the built-in types, and probably even more useful when creating your own types in code.

portal types screenshot

Undoing Changes

In many areas of the ZMI, you'll see an "Undo" tab at the top of the page. This allows you to back out if a change ends up causing a problem. It also lets you see who made configuration changes and when.

ZMI Undo Tab

Repeating Import Steps

If you go to the "Import" tab under portal_setup, you'll be able to repeat some things that typically only happen when a package is loaded for the first time. Select a profile from the drop-down and you'll be presented with a list of available import steps.

Select the steps you want to repeat, or click "Import all steps" to go through the entire profile. This can be really handy when you're working on a new package and making frequent changes.

import tab screenshot

More Information

This article offers basic information and tips for the Zope Management Interface in Plone. For more detailed information and documentation visit

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