Through the Web or on the File System?

How to decide whether to build your theme through the web or on the file system.

Sooner or later with Plone you'll be faced with a decision. Plone is sufficiently flexible that there is often more that one way of doing things, and the conundrum is, usually, not how to do it, but which way.

You can customize Plone Default through the web very easily - particularly the skin and the configuration building blocks; further sections of this manual will point you in the direction of the relevant places in the Zope Management Interface to do this. However, if you want to move these customizations to a new site, undertake quite extensive customizations, or build a completely new theme, then it is advisable to move your work to the file system.

In this case you will need to create an installable module (also known as a theme product or  egg). This can be a daunting prospect, but there are tools available to simplify this process, providing you with a ready-made package into which to drop all the elements of your theme building blocks. We explain these tools on the next few pages.

If you are just starting out, then it is a good idea to get familiar with the building blocks and techniques by working through the web. It isn't difficult to move what you've done to the file system later. Once you start rewiring or moving components around you'll find the file system a more convenient way to work.

Through the Web

Pros Cons
Quick and easy Difficult to replicate or move from one site to another
Results immediately visible Large customizations can get complicated
  Some customizations of components aren't possible (e.g. can't move viewlets between viewlet managers)

On the File System

Pros Cons
Portable and reusable Steeper learning curve when you first start out
Complete flexibility, can write your own viewlets and portlets Need access to the file system
Bundles your changes up into your own theme / skin Will sometimes need to restart to see changes