ParTecs Weblog

When Plone met Skype…

March 13th, 2006

Of late we have been using Skype more and more to communicate (both one-on-one and multiway conferencing) and have been quite happy with it. Something we are even happier with is our company intranet which is based on Plone and which we use heavily for asynchronous communication. So we thought it was pretty natural to have a product that would integrate Skype with Plone. Now we all know how the Plone world is littered with custom Products that solve pretty much any problem you can think of (and with some of them, you wonder who would ever need something like that?) So we went out to and began our hunt for such a product expecting to find about a dozen versions all covering the essential functions but differing in their UI and implementation details. And what do you think we found?

Zilch. Zipp. Nada. 3 degrees below…

Absolutely nothing whatsoever that resembled anything which even remotely addressed this need. It appears that Plone and Skype are two parallel worlds without any cross border terrorism 🙂
So we set out to write this product. And PloneSkype was conceived!

What did we want from such a product:

1. For starters, a portlet that would show all the members who were logged into Skype at that time and the ability to start a conversation with any of them

2. The ability to tie together a skype icon that will be displayed along the by-line which already appears on pages created by members

3. To be able to set your own skype id on your preferences page

4. Administrator to update skype id of members

5. Display if member is online on Member search page

This seems to be a good set of starting requirements. Se we started implementing these requirements and as it turns out, Skype provides a nice enough API to make much of this quiet easy to implement.And PloneSkype was born! The end product is available for download and install here.

Of course, with design and implementation the devil is in the proverbial details. Along the way we were confronted with issues for which we had to make a few trade-offs. Stay tuned for future installments here to find out and appreciate these design decisions.

Update: Plone Skype available for download 

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