Connecting Clouds to Open Source: Plone & Salesforce.com Integration
The world of open source website and blogging platforms is pretty big with lots to choose from in many different computer languages. My tool of choice for at least the last eight years has been the Python based Plone which is built on a Zope backend. Plone is a well managed, fully featured and highly adopted application that installs on almost any operating system. Plone benefits from hundreds of developers, products and themes which makes building and launching a website a breeze. The new Plone 4 release brings speed, flexible folders, a new default theme, and a ton of other new features.
Why Not Force.com Sites
While Force.com Sites built on the Salesforce.com platform allows for some great integration, the tools for managing and publishing content are just not rich enough. Take a discussion board for example, in Plone that is just adding a product that gets downloaded and installed in less than a minute. With Force.com Sites that would be a lot of configuration and build including some tricky user licensing. As it stands today, Force.com Sites are good for highly integrated, simple featured, and brochure type websites. Plone is still great for content publishing, complex, and community based websites.
Making The Connection
The good news is that Plone and Salesforce.com have some great connection tools that can be leveraged to get the best of both worlds. Starting with the core of the integration is Beatbox which is the Python toolkit that talks to the Salesforce.com API. From there you add on SalesforceBaseConnector which is the Plone product connecting Beatbox and Plone.
Two Great Integrations
The first is SalesforceAuthPlugin which allows you to leverage any existing object in Salesforce.com, such as a Contact, Lead, or User as the logged in user of Plone. This means users who register on the website can be automatically created as leads or other objects in Salesforce.com. The username and password as well as other information are stored in Salesforce.com and any authentification now happens through the API. One central place to manage all data. A very cool trick.
SalesforcePFGAdapter creates a web-2-anything form within Plone which after being validated and submitted on the Plone side can create or update Salesforce.com objects. The power of this product is that it can not only create one object from one form, but many objects and relate them. An example we did for a client recently was an event registration that when submitted, created an Account, Contact and custom registration object, all related and in real time.
With these and other Plone and Salesforce.com products CRM and website integration takes on a whole new level of sophistication.To learn more: