Find file
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
395 lines (291 sloc) 17.6 KB
Zope External Editor
The Zope External Editor is a new way to integrate Zope more seamlessly with
client-side tools. It has the following features:
- Edit objects locally, directly from the ZMI or from your web application.
- Works with any graphical editor application that can open a file from the
command line, including: emacs, gvim, xemacs, nedit, gimp,,
MS Office, Photoshop, etc.
- Automatically saves changes back to Zope without ending the editing session.
- Associate any client-side editor application with any Zope object by
meta-type or content-type. Both text and binary object content can be
- Locks objects while they are being edited. Automatically unlocks them when
the editing session ends.
- Can add file extensions automatically to improve syntax highlighting or
file type detection.
- Works with basic auth, cookie auth and Zope versions. Credentials are
automatically passed down to the helper application. No need to
- https support (Openssl required)
- proxy support (might fail with some proxies ; contact us if you get
an issue)
Using It
Use of the application is about as easy as using the ZMI once your browser
is configured (see the installation instructions). To edit an object
externally, just click on the pencil icon next to the object in the ZMI,
or on the specific direct edit action in your application.
The object will be downloaded and opened using the editor application you
have chosen (you will be prompted the first time to choose an editor).
You edit the object just like any other file. When you save the changes in
your editor, they are automatically uploaded back to Zope in the
background. While the object is open in your editor, it is locked in Zope
to prevent concurrent editing. When you end your editing session (ie you
close your editor) the object is unlocked.
How it Works
Ok, so this all sounds a bit too good to be true, no? So how the heck does
it work anyway? First I'll give you a block diagram::
+------------+ +------------+ +---------+ +------+
| Editor App | <-- | Helper App | <-- | Browser | <-/ /- | Zope |
+------------+ +------------+ +---------+ +------+
^ ^ ^ ^
\ / \ /
v v -----------------------/ /----
/ Local \
\ File /
Now the key to getting this to work is solving the problem that the editor
cannot know about Zope, and must only deal with local files. Also, there is
no standard way to communication with editors, so the only communication
channel can be the local file which contains the object's content or code.
It is trivial to get the browser to fire up your editor when you download
a particular type of data with your browser. But that does you little good,
since the browser no longer involves itself once the data is downloaded. It
just creates a temp file and fires off the registered application, passing
it the file path. Once the editor is running, it is only aware of the local
file, and has no concept of where it originated from.
To solve this problem, we have developed a helper application whose job is
essentially two-fold:
- Determine the correct editor to launch for a given Zope object
- Get the data back into Zope when the changes are saved
So, let's take a step by step look at how it works:
1. You click on the external editor link (the pencil icon) in the Zope
management interface (This might be a special action).
2. The product code on the server creates a response that encapsulates the
necessary meta-data (URL, meta-type, content-type, cookies, etc) and the
content of the Zope object, which can be text or binary data. The
response has the contrived content-type "application/x-zope-edit" and
the file extension ".zem".
3. The browser receives the request, and finds our helper application
registered for "application/x-zope-edit" or the extension ".zem".
It saves the response data locally to disk and spawns the helper app
to process it.
4. The helper app, reads its config file and the response data file. The
meta-data from the file is parsed and the content is copied to a new
temporary file. The appropriate editor program is determined based on
the data file and the configuration.
5. The editor is launched as a sub-process of the helper app, passing it the
file containing the content data.
6. If so configured, the helper app sends a WebDAV lock request back to Zope
to lock the object.
7. Every so often (if so configured), the helper app stats the content file
to see if it has been changed. If so, it sends an HTTP PUT request
back to Zope containing the new data.
8. When the editor is closed, the content file is checked one more time and
uploaded if it has changed. Then a WebDAV unlock request is sent to Zope.
9. The helper application exits.
The helper application supports several configuration options, each of
which can be triggered in any combination of object meta-type, content-type
or domain. This allows you to create appropriate behavior for different
types of Zope objects and content or even different servers. The
configuration file is stored in the file "~/.zope-external-edit" (Unix) or
"~\ZopeEdit.ini" (Windows). If no configuration file is found when the
helper application starts, a default config file is created in your home
The configuration file follows the standard Python ConfigParser format,
which is pretty much like the old .ini file format from windows. The file
consists of sections and options in the following format::
[section 1]
option1 = value
option2 = value
[section 2]
The available options for all sections of the config file are:
editor -- Command line or plugin name used to invoke the editor
application. On Windows, if no editor setting is found for an object you
edit, the helper app will search the file type registry for an
appropriate editor based on the content-type or file extension of the
object (which can be specified using the extension option below). By
default, the file path of the local file being edited is appended to
this command line. To insert the file path in the middle of your
command, use "$1" for Unix and "%1" for Windows respectively.
save_interval -- (float) The interval in seconds that the helper
application checks the edited file for changes.
use_locks -- (1 or 0) Whether to use WebDAV locking. The user editing must
have the proper WebDAV related permissions for this to work.
always_borrow_locks -- (1 or 0) When use_locks is enabled this features
suppresses warnings when trying to edit an object you have already locked.
When enabled, external editor will always "borrow" the existing lock token
instead of doing the locking itself. This is useful when using CMFStaging
for instance. If omitted, this option defaults to 0.
cleanup_files -- (1 or 0) Whether to delete the temp files created.
WARNING the temp file coming from the browser contains authentication
information and therefore setting this to 0 is a security risk,
especially on shared machines. If set to 1, that file is deleted at the
earliest opportunity, before the editor is even spawned. Set to 0 for
debugging only.
extension -- (text) The file extension to add to the content file. Allows
better handling of images and can improve syntax highlighting.
temp_dir -- (path) Path to store local copies of object data being
edited. Defaults to operating system temp directory. *Note: this setting
has no apparent effect on Windows* 8^(
long_file_name -- (1 or 0) Whether to include the whole path to the
object including the hostname in the file name (the default) or just the
id of the object being edited. Turn this option off for shorter file
names in your editors, and for editors that don't like long names.
file_name_separator -- (string) Character or characters used to separate
path elements in long files names used by external editor. Defaults to
a comma (,). This must be a legal character for use in file names on
your platorm (i.e., don't use a path separator character!). This option
is ignored if 'long_file_name' is set to 0.
The sections of the configuration file specify the types of objects and
content that the options beneath them apply to.
There is only one mandatory section '[general]', which should define all
of the above options that do not have a default value. If no other
section defines an option for a given object, the general settings are
Additional sections can apply to a particular domain, content-type or
meta-type. Since objects can have all these properties, the options are
applied in this order of precedence.
- '[content-type:text/html]' -- Options by whole content-type come first
- '[content-type:text/\*]' -- Options by major content-type come second.
- '[meta-type:File]' -- Options by Zope meta-type are third.
- '[]' -- Options by domain follow. Several
sections can be added for each domain level if desired.
- '[general]' -- General options are last.
This scheme allows you to specify an extension by content-type, the
editor by meta-type, the locking settings by domain and the remaining
options under general for a given object.
Editor Plugins
For tighter client-side integration, external editor has a plugin system
that allows it to interact directly with supported applications.
On Windows this generally means using COM to invoke the application, open
the content file and wait for the user to save and close the file. Because
each application has different remote scripting capabilities and APIs,
editor specific plugins must be written tailored to each supported
application and platform.
This system allows external editor to efficiently connect to running
applications without relaunching them and therefore fully support MDI
environments. The following applications currently have plugin support::
Application Platform Plugin Module Name(s)
HomeSite Windows homesite5, homesite
Dreamweaver Windows dreamweaver
External editor will attempt to load a plugin for any application before
using the general editor control method. It does this by matching the
name of the application executable file (sans extension) in the editor
command line with the available plugins.
Because plugins do not require the path of the editor application to work,
you can simply specify the plugin module name for your editor in the
configuration file if desired. For example, to specify Photoshop for all
image files, use add the following section to your config file
(ZopeEdit.ini on Windows)::
This is only a shortcut and specifying the full application path will
still use the plugin where possible.
Plugin Notes
Photoshop -- Photoshop's COM API is quite limited, and external editor
cannot detect that you have closed a file until you exit the entire
application (it can still detect saves). Therefore you may want to turn
off DAV locking (use_locks=0) or borrow locks (always_borrow_locks=1)
when using it.
Dreamweaver -- External editor cannot detect when you have finished
editing a single file. Objects edited with Dreamweaver will remain
locked on the server until you exit the application. As with Photoshop
above, you may want to turn off locking for Dreamweaver.
If your favorite editor needs a plugin because the general support is
not good enough, please let me know. Keep in mind that I must be able to
run a copy of the application in order to develop a plugin for it. So,
unless the application is free, or a full demo is available for download
I won't be able to help much. Plugins are not difficult to write, and I
encourage you to write one for your favorite editor, start by reading
one of the existing ones. I am happy to include third-party plugins with
the distribution.
External editing is governed by the permission "Use external editor".
Users with this permission can launch external editor from editable
objects. In order to save changes, users will need additional permissions
appropriate for the objects they are editing.
If users wish to use the built-in locking support, they must have the
"WebDAV access", "WebDAV Lock items" and "WebDAV Unlock items" permissions
for the objects they are editing.
If these permissions are not set in Zope, then the helper application will
receive unauthorized errors from Zope which it will present to the user.
Integrating with External Editor
The external editor product in zope installs a globally available object
that can format objects accessible through FTP/DAV for use by the helper
application. You can take advantage of this functionality easily in your
own content management applications.
Say you have an FTP editable object, "document", in a Zope folder named
"my_stuff". The URL to view the object would be::
The URL to kick off the external editor on this document would be::
Now, this may look a bit odd to you if you are used to tacking views on to
the end of the URL. Because '\externalEdit_' is required to work on Python
Scripts and Page Templates, which swallow the remaining path segments on
the URL following themselves, you must put the call to '\externalEdit_'
*directly before* the object to be edited. You could do this in ZPT using
some TAL in a Page Template like::
<a href='edit'
Edit Locally
As an alternative, you can also pass the path the object you want to edit
directly to the \externalEdit_ object when you call its index_html method.
It can be called either directly by URL or from a python script.
\externalEdit_ will return the proper response data for the object to edit.
Here are some examples::
return context.externalEdit_.index_html(
context.REQUEST, context.RESPONSE, path='/my_stuff/document')
When integrating External Editor with a CMS that already uses DAV
locks, it will, by default allow users to borrow locks made on the server
after displaying a confirmation dialog box. Although you can make this
automatic by specifying 'always_borrow_locks = 1' in the External Editor
config file, it may be desireable to make this the default behavior when
using that server. To facilitate this, you can specify that locks
should be automatically borrowed in the URL (New in 0.7)::
External Editor also defines a global method that you can call to insert
pencil icon links for appropriate objects. The method automatically checks
if the object supports external editing and whether the user has the "Use
external editor" permission for that object. If both are true, it returns
the HTML code to insert the external editor icon link. Otherwise it returns
an empty string.
The method is '\externalEditLink_(object)'. The object argument is the
object to create the link for if appropriate. Here is some example page
template code that inserts links to objects in the current folder and the
external editor icon where appropriate::
<div tal:repeat="object here/objectValues">
<a href="#"
tal:attributes="href object/absolute_url"
tal:content="object/title_or_id">Object Title</a>
<span tal:replace="structure python:here.externalEditLink_(object)" />
I hope you enjoy using this software. If you have any comments, suggestions
or would like to report a bug, send an email to this version maintainer:
Thierry Benita
Special thanks for their help and contributions
* Wayne Glover - excellent texting and reports makes ZopeEdit go ahead !
* Alexandre Gouraud - contributor of the Digest authentification method
* datakurre - Dexterity support
(c) 2010, Thierry Benita, Jean-Nicolas Bes, atReal, Casey Duncan, contributors atReal and Zope Corporation. All rights reserved.