[ZDP] Rewrite of first part of Deprez' file

Shaw, Howard ShawH@STHS.org
Thu, 6 May 1999 09:02:06 -0500

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Well, heck. The reply to Deprez was stripped of its Zip by exchange, so
I resent and missed and sent it to Zope@zope.org. Third time's the

Howard Clinton Shaw III
St. Thomas High School

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Zope is a free, multi-platform, open-source, web-application platform =
for building dynamic web sites. The words: 'free' and 'open-source' are =
most likely returning in your head over and over. Yes, since November =
1998, Zope is a free open-source product. Be aware, I said 'since', =
meaning that this wasn't the case with the previous versions. Maybe you =
don't find this important, but I do. Since I started looking at Linux, =
I became aware of the great power of it: being Open Source. But also =
Open Source has also some draw backs. At some time, groups start at =
something really great, but never finish it, because they found =
something what will be bigger, greater then the one before. Resulting =
in a product that never finishes. This isn't the case at all with Zope. =
Zope is already a finished product, it's a collection of three =
products: 'Bobo', 'Principia', 'Aquaduct' and some external methods. =
All of these products already have been proven in some serious cases. =
Another important point, is that Digital Creations, the company which =
created Zope, after much thought, decided to focus on being a =
consulting company. They need Zope for their business and they will =
maintain and enhance it, because their company relies on it. At the =
moment it is a relatively small company, and all of its people are very =
helpful and responsive to problems and request from the community.=20

Besides this, it's multi-platform. Thus it can run on Linux/Intel, =
Solaris (SPARC and Intel), Digital Unix, BSDI and Windows NT (and most =
likely also on SGI/Irix, HP-UX, Windows 95/98, Mac OS, Windows CE, =
although not supported). Most web application servers are tied to a =
specific platform and/or a specific web server. Zope is capable of =
running on many servers, including Apache, Netscape Server, and =
Microsoft IIS. It also runs on Medusa, a powerful Python-based HTTP =
server, which provides web, WebDAV, and ftp based access to Zope, =
thanks to an arrangement Digital Creations made on behalf of the =
community with Sam Rushing, creator of Medusa.

I'm almost sure that I've got your full attention, so let us dig a =
little bit deeper into the 'why' of Zope's creation and existence. As =
web technology advanced, and websites became more complicated, it =
became increasingly obvious that once a website was created, it was =
hard to maintain. This is a quandry, since websites, moreso than any =
other form of publication, are dependent on being kept up to the =
minute. In addition, connecting the web to a database in a secure =
manner while not requiring a single person to know every aspect of the =
site, HTML, SQL and the elements of good design was yet another problem =
to face. Web application platforms were created to make life easier for =
the web-programmers. They provide a server-based scripting language =
designed to simplify these 'difficult' tasks, and generally include =
mechanisms to access databases. The current crop of web application =
platforms include Cold Fusion, Silverstream, Netscape Application =
Server, Active Server Pages (Microsoft), and more. =20

Zope provides a different paradigm than most of the traditional web =
application platforms. When creating web sites with Zope, you work with =
an integrated object database. Most other web application platforms use =
a relational database. Although Zope uses an internal object database, =
Zope is not incapable of using relational databases as resources. On =
contrary, Zope provides a mechanism for integrating relational =
databases into its object structure. This means that you can still use =
a SQL-server to provide your data. This is advantageous both because =
not all data lends itself to being stored in an object oriented way, =
and because it provides access to legacy data stored for other reasons, =
by other programs. Several modules are written for this purpose and =
officially supported: Oracle, Sybase, MySQL and ODBC. It is generally =
not difficult to implement a new module, using the source of the =
preexisting modules as a template. One example of this is the =
PostGresSQL database module. While it is unlikely that a normal user =
would start writing such a module, the Open Source policy means that =
other people may already have written it for you. So, to summarize, you =
get all the benefits of an object-oriented environment, and can =
integrate your companie's preexisting databases easily.=20

While the web interface of Zope is generally designed for content =
managers, Zope has much to offer to programmers. Zope provides access =
to external methods and internal modules which can be written in the =
powerful, clean Python language. Python provides much of the advantages =
of Perl or Java, providing the same easy scripting of an interpreted, =
interactive programming language like Perl, while providing powerful =
objects with multiple inheritance like Java, and a syntax which =
enforces readability, so its code is always easy to understand and =
modify. Python is also multi-platform, free, and open source. Zope =
itself is largely written in Python, and so inherits the clean =
readability and easily modified code inherent in all Python programs. =
(A few components of Zope are written in C for performance reasons.) =
But because of Zope's internal server-side scripting language, DTML =
(Document Template Markup Language) it is not necessary to know Python =
to create sophisticated websites using Zope.

Given the above, it seems clear that Zope can at least be put on a =
level with the other common web application platforms, and in some =
areas, rises above them, because it provides a new metaphor for =
creating web sites. Zope's unique python based object database provides =
powerful benefits, although some might see it as a drawback, since it =
requires a new way of looking at traditional problems and tasks. Of =
course, this is only the beginning of the story, and as we move on, we =
will look deeper into the world of Zope.

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