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pypm install ore.contentmirror

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  3. Type pypm install ore.contentmirror
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version 0.7.1 on Jan 5th, 2011

A facility for mirroring the content of a Plone site into a structured external datastore. Primarily, it focuses and supports out of the box, content deployment to a relational database. The current implementation provides for synchronous content mirroring or full site copies. In synchronous mode, it updates the external store, as changes are happening in Plone, and is integrated with the zope transaction machinery.

It allows the access of content from your Plone site in a language and platform neutral manner.

It generically handles any archetypes content, with support for all archetype field types, as well as serializing containment information. Reference support does not support content or stateful based references objects.


  • Out of the Box support for Default Plone Content Types.
  • Out of the Box support for all builtin Archetypes Fields (including files, and references ).
  • Supports Any 3rd Party / Custom Archetypes Content.
  • Supports Capturing Containment / Content hierarchy in the serialized database.
  • Completely Automated Mirroring, zero configuration required beyond installation.
  • Easy customization via the Zope Component Architecture
  • Opensource ( GPLv3 )
  • Elegant and Simple Design, less than 600 lines of code, 100% unit test coverage.
  • Support for Plone 2.5, 3.0, and 3.1
  • Commercial Support Available ( ObjectRealms )


see install.txt


System Message: WARNING/2 (<string>, line 41)

Title underline too short.


To demonstrate the system, let's create a custom archetype content type and an instance of it. We'll add the marker interface IMirrored, to get the mirror package's default component registrations. In practice, we typically apply this interface via a zcml implements directive to third party components:

>>> import zope.interface
>>> from datetime import datetime
>>> from ore.contentmirror import interfaces
>>> class MyPage( BaseContent ):
...     portal_type = 'My Page'
...     zope.interface.implements( interfaces.IMirrored )
...     schema = Schema((
...                StringField('title'),
...                StringField('slug', required=True),
...                IntegerField('days'),
...                LinesField('people'),
...                DateTimeField('discovered_date')
...     ))

>>> content = MyPage('front-page', title="The Cloud Apps", slug="Miracle Cures for Rabbits")
>>> content.title = u"FooBar"
>>> content.discovered_date = DateTime() # now
>>> content.people = ["venkat", "tyrell", "johan", "arjun", "smithfield"]

Note on Examples

For testing purposes a mock implementation was constructed to avoid the need for setting up a Plone instance for development. From the perspective of the api used by contentmirror the machinery is identical but the differences in for some attributes as done in these examples differs from the actual plone api for doing the same.

Schema Tranformation

In order to serialize content to a relational database, we need to tranform our Archeypes schema to a relational database table. The package provides sensible default FieldTransformers for all builtin Archetypes fields.

First let's grab the sqlalchemy metadata structure to store our tables in:

>>> from ore.contentmirror.schema import metadata

Now let's perform the transformation:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import transform
>>> transformer = transform.SchemaTransformer( content, metadata)
>>> table = transformer.transform()
>>> for column in table.columns: print column, column.type.__class__.__name__
  mypage.content_id Integer
  mypage.slug Text
  mypage.days Integer
  mypage.people Text
  mypage.discovered_date DateTime

The default implementation of the ISchemaTransformer uses a common content table, to model common fields like dublin core attributes which are common to all content.


In order to utilize SQLAlchemy's ORM, we create a orm mapped class for each content class. We call such sql persisted classes a peer. Using a peer class allows us to serialize state to a relational database without writing any SQL by hand. We can have the system create a peer class for us, by using the peer factory:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import peer
>>> factory = peer.PeerFactory( content, transformer )
>>> peer_class = factory.make()
>>> peer_class
<class 'ore.contentmirror.peer.MyPagePeer'>

Model Loader

The model loader provides an abstraction for generating a relational schema and a peer in high level interface. It looks up and utilizes ISchemaTransformer and IPeerFactory components to load a content class into the mirroring system:

>>> from ore.contentmirror.loader import loader
>>> loader.load( MyPage )

If we attempt to load the same class twice a KeyError is raised:

>>> loader.load( MyPage )
Traceback (most recent call last):
KeyError: "Duplicate <class 'MyPage'>"

Event Stream

In order to serialize content as changes are happening in the CMS, we integrate into the application server's event stream and subscribe to content events. A typical problem in Plone at least, is that redundant operations and events are fairly common, as well outright spurious events from facilities like portal_factory. To combat that we aggregate events on transaction boundaries, and automatically collapse multiple operations for the same object.

To process the event stream, first we need to setup the database connection, and database table structure:

>>> import os
>>> import sqlalchemy as rdb
>>> metadata.bind = rdb.create_engine(test_db_uri())
>>> metadata.create_all(checkfirst=True)

Operation Factories

The event subscribers delegate to an operation factory, which provides for creating deferred operations objects analagous to the Command pattern.

For the runtime mirroring system, the operation factory provides a critical policy point for customizing the behavior of content mirroring. Providing a different operation factory, could be utilized for deploying content to an xml database, or subversion content store, or portal audit logs and BI reports. The default operation factory tackles the relational mirroring problem domain. It provides operations that process various content lifecycle events:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import operation
>>> ops = operation.OperationFactory( content )

We can confirm that multiple operations automatically collapse to the minimal set:

>>> ops.add()
>>> list(operation.get_buffer())
[<ore.contentmirror.operation.AddOperation object at ...>]

If we delete the content in the same transaction scope, then effectively for the purposes of mirroring, the content was never created, and the buffer automatically removes any pending operations for the content:

>>> ops.delete()
>>> operation.get_buffer().get( id(content) )

if we create an add operation, and an update operation in a single transaction scope, it should collapse down to just the add operation:

>>> ops.add()
>>> ops.update()
>>> operation.get_buffer().get( id(content) )
<ore.contentmirror.operation.AddOperation object at ...>

if we have modified the object's uid in the same transaction we should have still one operation for the object:

>>> len(list(operation.get_buffer()))
>>> from ore.contentmirror.tests.base import make_uuid
>>> content.uid = make_uuid(content.id)
>>> ops.update()
>>> len(list(operation.get_buffer()))

Operations in the transaction buffer are automatically processed at transaction boundaries, if we commit the transaction all operations held in the buffer are processed:

>>> import transaction
>>> transaction.get().commit()
>>> list(operation.get_buffer())

Alternatively if the transaction is aborted, all operations are discarded:

>>> content.title = u"Shall Not Pass"
>>> ops.update()
>>> transaction.get().abort()
>>> list(operation.get_buffer())

Let's go ahead and process an update operation for test coverage:

>>> ops.update()
>>> transaction.get().commit()

Let's also exercise the delete operation to reset the database state for other tests:

>>> ops.delete()
>>> transaction.get().commit()


Sometimes we have content that we don't to mirror to the external datastore. For example in Plone, Archetypes content is often created inside the Portal Factory machinery, which creates objects in temporary containers. This content is not persistent, and often has partial state, nevertheless object lifecycle events are sent out for it. The system uses a filter in its default configuration, to automatically suppress processing of any content in portal factory.

Filters are modeled as subscription adapters, meaning each filter matching against the context and operation, is applied in turn.

Let's create a simple filter that filters all content. We do this by setting the filtered attribute of the operation, to True:

>>> def content_filter( content, operation ):
...     operation.filtered = True

And let's register our filter with the component architecture:

>>> from zope import component
>>> component.provideSubscriptionAdapter(
...      content_filter,
...      (interfaces.IMirrored, interfaces.IOperation ),
...      interfaces.IFilter )

Now if we try create an operation for the content, it will automatically be filtered:

>>> ops.add()
>>> list(operation.get_buffer())

Finally, let's remove the filter for other tests:

>>> component.getSiteManager().unregisterSubscriptionAdapter(
...    content_filter,
...    (interfaces.IMirrored, interfaces.IOperation ),
...    interfaces.IFilter )


Operations in turn delegate to a serializer. Serializers are responsible for persisting the state of the object. They utilize the content's peer to effect this. Peers are looked up via a peer registry utility. Schema transformers are used to copy the content's fields state to the peer.

To demonstrate the serializer, first we need to register the peer class with the registry:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import interfaces
>>> registry = component.getUtility( interfaces.IPeerRegistry )
>>> registry[ MyPage ] = peer_class

Now we can utilize the serializer directly to serialize our content to the database:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import serializer
>>> content_serializer = serializer.Serializer( content )
>>> peer = content_serializer.add()
>>> peer.slug
'Miracle Cures for Rabbits'

We can directly check the database to see the serialized content there:

>>> import sqlalchemy as rdb
>>> from ore.contentmirror.session import Session
>>> session = Session()
>>> session.flush()
>>> list(rdb.select( [table.c.content_id, table.c.slug] ).execute())
[(..., u'Miracle Cures for Rabbits')]

Serializers are also responsible for updating database respresentations:

>>> content.slug = "Find a home in the clouds"
>>> peer = content_serializer.update()
>>> peer.slug
'Find a home in the clouds'

and deleting them:

>>> session.flush()
>>> content_serializer.delete()
>>> list(rdb.select( [table.c.content_id, table.c.slug] ).execute())

Due to the possibility of being installed and working with existing content all the methods need to be reentrant. For example deleting non existent content shouldn't cause an exception:

>>> content_serializer.delete()

or attempting to update content which does not exist, should in turn add it:

>>> peer = content_serializer.update()
>>> session.flush()
>>> list(rdb.select( [table.c.content_id, table.c.slug] ).execute())
[(..., u'Find a home in the clouds')]


Content in a plone portal is contained within the portal, and has explicit containment structure based on access (Acquisition). ie. Content is contained within folders, and folders are content. The contentmirror system captures this containment structure in the database serialization using the adjancey list support in SQLAlchemy.

To demonstrate, let's create a folderish content type and initialize it with the mirroring system:

>>> class Folder( BaseContent ):
...     portal_type = 'Simple Folder'
...     zope.interface.implements( interfaces.IMirrored )
...     schema = Schema((
...                StringField('name'),
...                StringField('slug', required=True),
...                ReferenceField('related', relationship='inkind'),
...                DateTimeField('discovered_date')
...     ))

>>> loader.load( Folder )
>>> metadata.create_all(checkfirst=True)
>>> root = Folder('root', name="Root")
>>> subfolder = Folder('subfolder', name="SubOne", container=root)
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( subfolder ).add()
>>> peer.parent.name == "Root"
>>> transaction.abort()

The content mirror automatically serializes a content's container if its not already serialized. Containment serialization is a recursive operation. In the course of normal operations, this has a nominal cost, as the content's container would already have been serialized, from a previous add event.

Nonetheless, a common scenario when starting to use content mirror on an existing system is that content will be added to a container thats not been serialized, in which case the serialization will recurse till it has captured the entire parent chain. When operating on existing systems, its best to let the content mirroring process 'catch up', by running the bulk serialization tool as documented in the installation file. Once this tools has been run, containment operation recursion is minimal.

Additionally, when adding content to a container, the container will have have been the subject of an object modified event, when a content object is added to it, leading to redundant serialization operations. The content mirror automatically detects and handles this.

Let's try loading this chain of objects through the operations factory, to demonstrate, with an additional update event for the container modification event:

>>> operation.OperationFactory( root ).update()
>>> operation.OperationFactory( subfolder ).add()
>>> transaction.commit()

And let's load the subfolder peer from the database and verify its contained in the "root" folder:

>>> from ore.contentmirror import schema
>>> schema.fromUID( subfolder.UID() ).parent.name

A caveat to using containment, is that filtering containers, will cause contained mirrored content to appear as orphans/root objects.

Containment hiearchies can be queried either via the adjancency tree model using join depth to control the number of levels fetched in a single query, or via a path prefix query against the portal relative path on a content node.

>>> schema.fromUID( subfolder.UID() ).path

Delete operations on a container, cascade down to all contained content. Test note, demonstrating this requires usage of a database with foreign key action support ( for cascade operators ), but the default test database is sqlite so we won't attempt verification.

>>> operation.OperationFactory( root ).delete()
>>> transaction.commit()


A content's workflow status is also captured in the database. the state are evident below as we construct some sample content to serialize the state:

>>> my_space = Folder("my-space")
>>> my_space.workflow_state = "archived"
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( my_space ).add()
>>> peer.status


Archetypes references are a topic onto themselves. By default, References got stored in a relation table which containing the source and target content ids, and a relationship name. Let's create a content class with reference fields to demonstrate:

>>> class MyAsset( BaseContent ):
...     portal_type = "My Asset"
...     zope.interface.implements( interfaces.IMirrored )
...     schema = Schema((
...                StringField('name'),
...                StringField('slug', required=True),
...                ReferenceField('related', relationship='inkind'),
...                DateTimeField('discoveredDate')
...     ))

And setup the peers and database tables for our new content class:

>>> loader.load( MyAsset )
>>> metadata.create_all(checkfirst=True)
>>> table = component.getUtility( interfaces.IPeerRegistry )[ MyAsset ].transformer.table
>>> for column in table.columns: print column, column.type.__class__.__name__
  myasset.content_id Integer
  myasset.name Text
  myasset.slug Text
  myasset.discovereddate DateTime

Let's create some related content:

>>> xo_image = MyAsset('xo-image', name="Icon")
>>> logo = MyAsset('logo', name="Logo")
>>> xo_article = MyAsset('xo-article', name='Article', related=xo_image, discoveredDate=DateTime() )
>>> home_page = MyAsset( 'home-page', related=[xo_article, logo] )

And serialze the content. Any objects referenced by a serialized object are also serialized if they not have already been serialized. In this way reference processing like containment, is recursive:

>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( home_page ).add()

Related objects are accessible from the peer as the relations collection attribute:

>>> for ob in peer.relations: print ob.target.name, ob.relationship
  Article inkind
  Logo inkind

If we modify a content object, its references are not serialized again:

>>> session.flush()
>>> home_page.title = "Home"
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( home_page ).update()
>>> session.dirty
IdentitySet([<ore.contentmirror.peer.MyAssetPeer object at ...>])

>>> for ob in peer.relations: print ob.target.name, ob.relationship
  Article inkind
  Logo inkind

When performing case manipulation, let's verify that we're serializing the values properly.

>>> schema.fromUID( xo_article.UID() ).discovereddate


File content is automatically stored in a separate files table, with foreign key pointers back to the origin content. The files table uses the binary field in sqlalchemy for storing content.

Let's demonstrate using the default file handling which stores files into a database. First a class with a file field:

>>> class ExampleContent( BaseContent ):
...     portal_type = "My File"
...     zope.interface.implements( interfaces.IMirrored )
...     schema = Schema((
...                StringField('Name'),
...                FileField('file_content', required=True),
...     ))
>>> loader.load( ExampleContent )
>>> metadata.create_all( checkfirst=True )

We can see that the sqlalchemy class mapper uses a relation property for the field:

>>> from sqlalchemy import orm
>>> peer_factory = component.getUtility( interfaces.IPeerRegistry )[ ExampleContent ]
>>> mapper = orm.class_mapper( peer_factory )
>>> mapper.get_property('file_content')
<sqlalchemy.orm.properties.RelationshipProperty object at ...>

Let's create some content with files and serialize it:

>>> image = ExampleContent('moon-image', Name="Icon", file_content=File("treatise.txt", "hello world") )
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( image ).add()
>>> peer
<ore.contentmirror.peer.ExampleContentPeer object at ...>
>>> peer.name
>>> session.flush()

Now let's verify the presence of the file in the files table:

>>> list(rdb.select( [schema.files.c.file_name, schema.files.c.content, schema.files.c.checksum],
...      schema.files.c.content_id == peer.content_id).execute() )
[(u'treatise.txt', 'hello world', u'5eb63bbbe01eeed093cb22bb8f5acdc3')]

If we modify it, what happens to the database during update:

>>> image.file_content=File("treatise.txt", "hello world 2")
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( image ).update()
>>> peer.file_content
<ore.contentmirror.schema.File object at ...>

We'll end up with two dirty (modified) objects in the sqlalchemy session corresponding to the content peer, and its file peer:

>>> dirty = list(session.dirty)
>>> dirty.sort()
>>> dirty
[<ore.contentmirror.peer.ExampleContentPeer object at ...>, <ore.contentmirror.schema.File object at ...>]

And if we flush the session, we can verify the updated contents of the database:

>>> session.flush()
>>> list(rdb.select( [schema.files.c.file_name, schema.files.c.content, schema.files.c.checksum, ],
...      schema.files.c.content_id == peer.content_id).execute() )
[(u'treatise.txt', 'hello world 2', u'5270941191198af2a01db3572f1b47e8')]

If we modify the object without modifying the file content, the file content is not written to the database, a md5 checksum comparison is made between the object file contents and the file peer checksum, before modifying the file peer:

>>> image.title = "rabbit"
>>> peer = interfaces.ISerializer( image ).update()
>>> session.dirty
IdentitySet([<ore.contentmirror.peer.ExampleContentPeer object at ...>])

Reserved Words

Most databases have a variety of sql words reserved in their dialect, the schema transformation takes this into account when generating column names, and prefixes any reserved words with 'at':

>>> class ExamplePage( BaseContent ):
...     portal_type = 'My Page'
...     zope.interface.implements( interfaces.IMirrored )
...     schema = Schema((
...                StringField('begin'),
...                StringField('end', required=True),
...                IntegerField('commit'),
...                LinesField('select'),
...                DateTimeField('where')
...     ))
>>> transformer = transform.SchemaTransformer( ExamplePage('a'), metadata)
>>> table = transformer.transform()
>>> for column in table.columns: print column, column.type.__class__.__name__
  examplepage.content_id Integer
  examplepage.at_begin Text
  examplepage.at_end Text
  examplepage.at_commit Integer
  examplepage.at_select Text
  examplepage.at_where DateTime

Custom Types

Any custom archetypes can easily be added in via a zcml declaration, as an example this is the configuration to setup ATDocuments:

<configure xmlns="http://namespaces.zope.org/zope"
  <ore:mirror content="Products.ATContentTypes.content.document.ATDocument" />


Undo is not supported as it directly relies on ZODB level features without any application awareness. Content mirror relies on application level events for proper functioning. Even in that case, Content mirror will become eventually consistent with the ZODB state as application level events are triggered for content affected by the Undo, the one exception to this is new content added, that is removed by the Undo functionality of the ZODB. Typically on a Plone site with active content creation, the utility of Undo is limited in practice. There are no plans to address this at this time. If its of significant concern, utilizing the serializer scripts in cron fashion instead of the synchronous replication offered by the runtime might be more effective.


The project homepage is http://contentmirror.googlecode.com which contains links to documentation, issue trackers, code repositories, and mailing lists.

Commercial Support

The contentmirror system is designed to be useable out of the box, but if you need commercial support, please contact us at kapil.foss@gmail.com


Kapil Thangavelu Alan Runyan Laurence Rowe Tim Knapp Wichert Akkerman

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Last updated Jan 5th, 2011

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