Help - Zope and HTML Training Reference


This guide is intended as a companion reference for college staff attending ECN training sessions, but you can bookmark it and consult it whenever you need to refresh your memory on the topics covered in the class.

What is Zope?

Zope is a web application framework use by the College of Engineering for its school and department web sites.

Zope uses a through-the-web, browser-based interface for creating, editing, and managing the folders, pages, images, and other objects that make up a site. The browser-based administrative interface is called the Zope Management Interface, hereafter abbreviated as ZMI.

To get into the ZMI, simply add /manage_main to the end of any URL on a Zope site. That will present you with the default management screen for whatever thing you were previously viewing. For instance, to edit a page at, the URL would be

The ZMI features a set of tabs across the top of the screen. Each of the tabs is an aspect of the object you're currently managing. There are also breadcrumbs that let you navigate up the hierarchy while remaining in the ZMI.

The Wrap Engine

ECN has built a system on top of Zope that we refer to as the "wrap engine." It's heart is a python script that examines request from the browser, the page that was requested, and a whole slew of environmental variables. From that input it constructs the page, "wrapping" the page's content with the appropriate layout, graphics, and navigation menus.

The engine is built so that we can change the "wrap" that is used for any particular site without affecting other sites. Other systems call this sort of interchangeable appearance a skin or theme.

The wraps have a lot of hidden (and admittedly poorly documented) settings and customizable bits and pieces. Some of the more commonly used ones will be covered here, but there are a lot more. If you want to know more about them, please ask us during the class, or email

What next?

The pages listed in the sidebar to the right will introduce some of the features built into our Zope sites, as well as some basic HTML tips, techniques, and guidelines. They are loosely arranged into a logical order, but feel free to browse through them however you like.

Make your own help file

We all forget things if we don't practice them regularly, or if we haven't done them for a long time. If you have notes that you really want to remember, add a Help page (HTML Document) with the Id "help" to the root folder of the web site you manage.

  • Add your notes to that page 
    You'll never lose them, and they'll always be available to you and anyone else who needs to manage the site. You can use it to store both basic tips as well as specific features that are unique to your site.
  • Don't put a link to it anywhere in your site
    Just remember that you can get to it by going to the root of your site and adding /help to the url. 
  • Don't store usernames and passwords in it!
    Any hacker could stumble across it and wreak havoc on your site if you put sensitive information there.