Importing and exporting content


Importing and exporting content between Plone sites and other CMS systems


Goal: you want to import and export content between Plone sites.

  • If both sites have identical version and add-on product configuration you can use the Management Interface export/import
  • If they don’t (e.g. have different Plone version on source and target site), you need to use add-on products to export and import the content to a common format, e.g. JSON files.

Zope 2 import / export

Zope 2 can import/export parts of the site in .zexp format. This is basically Python pickle data of the exported objects. The data is a raw dump of Python internal data structures, which means that the source and the target Plone versions must be compatible. For example, a export from Plone 3 to Plone 4 is not possible.

To export objects from a site to another, do the following:

  • In the Management Interface, navigate to the Folder, which holds the object to be exported.
  • Tick the checkbox for a object to be exported.
  • Click Import / Export
  • Export as .zexp.
  • Zope 2 will tell you the path where .zexp was created on the server.
  • Zope .zexp to youranothersite/var/instance/import folder
  • Go to the Management Interface root of your other site
  • Press Import / Export
  • In Import from file you should see now your .zexp file
  • Import it
  • Go to portal_catalog -> Advanced tab. Clear and Rebuild the catalog (raw Zope pickle does not know about anything living inside the catalog)


On it’s own collective.transmogrifier isn’t an import tool, rather a generic framework for creating pipelines to process data. Pipeline configs are .ini-style files that join together blueprints to quickly create a tool for processing data.

The following add-ons make it useful in a Plone context:

  • provides integration with GenericSetup, so you can run pipelines as part of import steps, and some useful blueprints.
  • quintagroup.transmogrifier also provides it’s own Plone integration, and some useful blueprints. See the site for some example configs for migration.
  • transmogrify.dexterity provides some blueprints relevant to Dexterity types, and has some default pipelines for you to use.
  • collective.jsonmigrator is particularly useful when the old site is not able to install collective.transmogrifier, as collective.jsonmigrator has a low level of dependencies for that end of the migration.

transmogrify.dexterity: CSV import

transmogrify.dexterity will register the pipeline transmogrify.dexterity.csvimport, which can be used to import from CSV to dexterity objects.

For more information on using, see the package documentation.

transmogrify.dexterity: JSON import/export

transmogrify.dexterity also contains some quintagroup.transmogrifier pipeline configs. To use these, first install both quintagroup.transmogrifier and transmogrify.dexterity, then add the following to your ZCML:

<include package="transmogrify.dexterity.pipelines" file="files.zcml" />

Then the “Content (transmogrifier)” generic setup import / export will import / export site content to JSON files.

For more information on using, see this transmogrify blog post.

quintagroup.transmogrifier: Exporting single folder only

Here is explained how to export and import Plone CMS folders between different Plonen versions, or different CMS systems, using XML based content marshalling and quintagroup.transmogrifier.

This overcomes some problems with Zope management based export/import which uses Python pickles and thus needs identical codebase on the source and target site. Exporting and importing between Plone 3 and Plone 4 is possible.

You can limit export to cover source content to with arbitrary portal_catalog conditions. If you limit source content by path you can effectively export single folder only.

The recipe described here assumes the exported and imported site have the same path for the folder. Manually rename or move the folder on source or target to change its location.


The instructions here requires quintagroup.transmogrify version 0.4 or later.

Source site

Execute these actions on the source Plone site.

Install quintagroup.transmogrifier via buildout and Plone add-on control panel.

Go to Site setup > Content migration.

Edit export settings. Remove unnecessary pipeline entries by looking the example below. Add a new catalogsource blueprint. The exclude-contained option makes sure we do not export unnecessary items from the parent folders:

pipeline =

blueprint = quintagroup.transmogrifier.catalogsource
path = query= /isleofback/ohjeet
exclude-contained = true

Also we need to include some field-level excluding bits for the folders, because the target site does not necessary have the same content types available as the source site and this may prevent setting up folderish content settings:

blueprint = quintagroup.transmogrifier.marshaller
exclude =

You might want to remove other, unneeded blueprints from the export pipeline. For example, portletexporter may cause problems if the source and target site do not have the same portlet code.

Go to the Management Interface > portal_setup > Export tab. Check Content (transmogrifier) step. Press Export Selected Steps at the bottom of the page. Now a .tar.gz file will be downloaded.

During the export process instance.log file is updated with status info. You might want to follow it in real-time from UNIX command line

tail -f var/log/instance.log

In log you should see entries running like:

2010-12-27 12:05:30 INFO EXPORTING _path=sisalto/ohjeet/yritys/yritysten-tuotetiedot/tuotekortti
2010-12-27 12:05:30 INFO EXPORTING
Pipeline processing time: 00:00:02
          94 items were generated in source sections
          94 went through full pipeline
           0 were discarded in some section

Target site

Execute these actions on the target Plone site.

Install quintagroup.transmogrifier via buildout and Plone add-on control panel.

Open target site instance.log file for monitoring the import process

tail -f var/log/instance.log

Go to the Management Interface > portal_setup > Import tab.

Choose downloaded setup_toolxxx.tar.gz file at the bottom of the page, for Import uploaded tarball input.

Run import and monitoring log file for possible errors. Note that the import completes even if the target site would not able to process incoming content. If there is a serious problem the import seems to complete successfully, but no content is created.


Currently export/import is not perfect. For example, the Management Interface content type icons are currently lost in the process. It is recommended to do a test run on a staging server before doing this process on a production server. Also, the item order in the folder is being lost.

More information


collective.jsonmigrator is basically a collective.transmogrifier pipeline that pulls Plone content from to JSON views on an old site and writes it into your new site. It’s major advantage is that the JSON view product: collective.jsonify is very low on dependencies (basically just simplejson), it can be installed on old Plone sites that would be difficult if not impossible to install collective.transmogrifier into.


Fast content import

For specific use-cases, you can create ‘brains’ first and import later * See this blog post

Simple JSON export

Below is a simple helper script / BrowserView for a JSON export of Plone folder content. Works Plone 3.3+. It handles also binary data and nested folders.


    Export folder contents as JSON.

    Can be run as a browser view or command line script.


import os
import base64

    import json
except ImportError:
    # Python 2.54 / Plone 3.3 use simplejson
    # version 2.3.3
    import simplejson as json

from Products.Five.browser import BrowserView
from Products.CMFCore.interfaces import IFolderish
from DateTime import DateTime

#: Private attributes we add to the export list
EXPORT_ATTRIBUTES = ["portal_type", "id"]

#: Do we dump out binary data... default we do, but can be controlled with env var

class ExportFolderAsJSON(BrowserView):
    Exports the current context folder Archetypes as JSON.

    Returns downloadable JSON from the data.

    def convert(self, value):
        Convert value to more JSON friendly format.
        if isinstance(value, DateTime):
            # Zope DateTime
            return value.ISO8601()
        elif hasattr(value, "isBinary") and value.isBinary():

            if not EXPORT_BINARY:
                return None

            # Archetypes FileField and ImageField payloads
            # are binary as OFS.Image.File object
            data = getattr(, "data", None)
            if not data:
                return None
            return base64.b64encode(data)
            # Passthrough
            return value

    def grabArchetypesData(self, obj):
        Export Archetypes schemad data as dictionary object.

        Binary fields are encoded as BASE64.
        data = {}
        for field in obj.Schema().fields():
            name = field.getName()
            value = field.getRaw(obj)
            print "%s" % (value.__class__)

            data[name] = self.convert(value)
        return data

    def grabAttributes(self, obj):
        data = {}
        for key in EXPORT_ATTRIBUTES:
            data[key] = self.convert(getattr(obj, key, None))
        return data

    def export(self, folder, recursive=False):
        Export content items.

        Possible to do recursively nesting into the children.

        :return: list of dictionaries

        array = []
        for obj in folder.listFolderContents():
            data = self.grabArchetypesData(obj)

            if recursive:
                if IFolderish.providedBy(obj):
                    data["children"] = self.export(obj, True)


        return array

    def __call__(self):
        folder = self.context.aq_inner
        data = self.export(folder)
        pretty = json.dumps(data, sort_keys=True, indent='    ')
        self.request.response.setHeader("Content-type", "application/json")
        return pretty

def spoof_request(app):
    from AccessControl.SecurityManagement import newSecurityManager
    from AccessControl.SecurityManager import setSecurityPolicy
    from import PermissiveSecurityPolicy, OmnipotentUser
    _policy = PermissiveSecurityPolicy()
    newSecurityManager(None, OmnipotentUser().__of__(app.acl_users))
    return app

def run_export_as_script(path):
    """ Command line helper function.

    Using from the command line::

        bin/instance script yoursiteid/path/to/folder

    If you have a lot of binary data (images) you probably want

        bin/instance script yoursiteid/path/to/folder > yourdata.json

    ... to prevent your terminal being flooded with base64.

    Or just pure data, no binary::

        EXPORT_BINARY=false bin/instance run yoursiteid/path/to/folder

    :param path: Full ZODB path to the folder
    global app

    secure_aware_app = spoof_request(app)
    folder = secure_aware_app.unrestrictedTraverse(path)
    view = ExportFolderAsJSON(folder, None)
    data = view.export(folder, recursive=True)
    # Pretty pony is prettttyyyyy
    pretty = json.dumps(data, sort_keys=True, indent='    ')
    print pretty

# Detect if run as a bin/instance run script
if "app" in globals():