[Zope-dev] Re: [Zope] DTML Syntax contd. + rant

Patrick Phalen zope@teleo.net
Thu, 11 Nov 1999 10:29:21 -0800

[Simon Michael, on Thu, 11 Nov 1999]:
:: What's the ideal situation from user's point of view ? 
:: <handwaving> 
:: I've heard smalltalk, particularly squeak smalltalk, described as
:: "liquid" and "transparent", meaning you can change things from the
:: application level right down to virtual machine and it's completely
:: consistent.  There are no steep jumps in the learning curve requiring
:: a new mindset, language, etc. I'm also reminded of Lucent's inferno
:: where /*everything*/is/in/one/access-controlled/namespace.
:: For zope to be more like this (it already goes a long way), I guess it
:: would be python all the way, with a single conceptually-simple
:: namespace that is always available, from bottom to top. 
:: Python is too hard for some ? Keep a limited DTML as an alternative.
:: But to python users we will say: forget dtml; use python, use this
:: single zope namespace, and you can do anything you want, things will
:: work as you expect.
:: Is this (a) what we have already ? (b) attainable ?  (c) unrealistic ?
:: Comments welcome.

This is a great thread. It reminds me of the agony of decisionmaking
going on right now on the XML standards lists. Wrestling with these
issues can be painful, but is necessary.

I'm in agreement with the thrust of Simon's ideas, and have been for
some time. I'm going to express my opinion, although I do so
hestitantly, because I'm sure some folks may disagree violently. ;) It's
only my opinion.

Paul asked for someone to collate the arguments of this thread, which
perhaps someone will have the time to do. But I think the crux is that
Zope access maps into two areas - DTML and Python. Between the two
there is a great divide. One of the benefits of this discussion thus
far is that several DC folk have confirmed that bridging this gap is
diffcult, no magic bullet is forthcoming this week or next.

Newbies can install Zope and build dynamic web sites with it without
learning Python, *to a point*. But Zope is built out of Python, was
inspired by Python and benefits from its integration with Python to
such a degree that I think the newbie should be encouraged and aided
from the beginning to drill down and learn the language.

Look at Vignette StoryServer, a very successful product. To do anything
interesting with it requires that you learn, not TCL, but a strange
hybrid of TCL. Why? Because TCL, by design, doesn't address the same
problem domain that Python does and needed to be extended. This means
that big web development projects under Storyserver can't just pull new
developers from the TCL community, but need to draw from the much
smaller StoryServer/TCL community. Python doesn't suffer from this

Python is Zope's secret weapon. It's such an easy language to learn,
that Guido van Rossum has grant money to explore using it as the basis
for a massive, national, federally funded Computer Programming for
Everyone project.

I believe that most people who come to Zope are looking for tools that
enable them to do Web Wizardry, not just get a site up. If you're
responsible for architecting a new site, learn Python. DTML is for your
content managers.

Don Porter says that he feels he's been misled. That's not good. That's
a problem with Zope's message to new users. I think new users should be
encouraged, inspired and exhorted to embrace Python from the gitgo and
given help to do that.

*Perhaps*, in the final analysis, it's a disservice to everyone involved
to maintain an atmosphere of "Python Denial." If you want to be a Web
Wizard with Zope, let's face it, you should learn a little Python.
You'll be happy you did. If you've never ever programmed a computer
before, then you'll be REALLY happy you did. :)

Q. Why didn't Inferno kick Java's ass before Java got so much hype and
A. Because Lucent's CEO didn't even know it existed until well after the
WWW got big.  :(