[Zope] Looking for Zope vs. Others at-a-glance comparison

Ron Bickers rbickers@logicetc.com
Sun, 10 Sep 2000 20:13:35 -0400

Completely calm and friendly opinions follow...

> [Zopefish etc]. Mostly Zope imho is just plain damn ugly out of
> the  box...
> like some ghost from the 70s  - zero graphics sense.. it s a
> bitch to make a
> decventlooking page in zope when it shouldn't be, not one nice
> looking zope
> site I have visited yet vs. all those nice looking nice reading Weblogs.
> Why?? Well Zope is very cool and powerful adn full of potential but try to
> use it and even seasoned programmers become unraveled in
> obfuscated syntax,
> etc etc.

I don't think it's any more difficult to create an attractive
(graphics-wise) site in Zope than it is with PHP or ASP or plain old
Apache-served HTML files.  Quite honestly, I'm not qualified to do it with
any tool. :-)  I get the feeling that a lot of people expect Zope to design
sites for them.  Maybe they're expecting too much.  Or maybe I'm expecting
too little???  Or maybe it's that most of the people using Zope today (like
me) are not pretty-site designers, but people that want a powerful tool to
manage the most important part of a site...content.

> I love what Zope represents, what it _can_ do, but I do not like
> what I see
> people actually doing with it. This continues to bother me and I
> keep my eye
> on where the alternatives are going for much the same reasons.
> Jeff Shelton
> has been putting up great service with his ZopeNewbies page. Not
> an accident
> that he is running it on Manila - because Manila makes it easy to set this
> stuff up and keep it going. Zope does not.

Zope is not to blame for what people have done with it on the visual side.
Content is far more important than visual appeal.  I see too many companies
(many of my clients) ignoring this and focusing way too much on layout,
placement of images, colors, cute JavaScript menus and other fancy stuff.
I'm not saying these things are not at all important.  Browsing an
unattractive, sloppily layed out site with lots of useful information is
annoying and distracting.  But it's *far* better than browsing a fancy,
"attractive" site that has nothing to offer other than sparse information,
pretty images and slow viewing time.

> In part the difference are that Manila attracts a more aesthetically
> [visually] aware crowd than Zope. Zope is geeky and damn proud of it. Zope
> rocks but there are no rocking zope sites that I can tell. Please
> correct me
> if I am wrong.
> [yes I am Awaiting some real news about CBS etc]
> But look at the 'Case Studies' page..
> It is not even titled  'Sites using Zope'
> instead "The following are a list of case studies in which Zope
> provided the
> solution."
> Reading between the lines it does not inspire great confidence. Nor does
> there appear to
> Is the problem with the tool the technology or the users??
> It is not an either or question - its a synergy issue.. But Zope does
> nothing to encourage one alas nor do the examples out there, [yet].

It's the site designers.  Zope isn't designed for assistance in creating
attractive sites.  It's designed for creating manageable sites.  It's
completely up to the designers to make it attractive, using tools designed
to do so.  Zope (in my experience) does nothing to limit the ability to make
a site attractive, but it does do buckets for increasing manageability.

> Imagine if the home page at www.zope.org was built using Manila?
> I'll bet it would be more dynamic more readable, more fun, more
> useful that
> it is now. Even having a damn calendar to browse through
> developments, news
> adn changes would be good. Not to mention the decidedly dead and strange
> style and links. What a shame. But it does not stop me loving what is cool
> about zope or trying to use it.

I'm comfortable that the zope.org developers will agree that their site is
not the greatest thing on earth, esp. when it comes to prettiness.  It is,
however, consistent, easy to use, informative, and provides some nice real
world examples of Zope's power.  Using any of the already available
calendar-like products for Zope, DC could easily create a calendar to browse
through stuff.  Again, it's not a limitation of Zope, the developers just
didn't do it.

> But we have elected to use External Methods to bypass
> lack-of-confidence and
> some of the headaches we experienced doing things with DTML. We like the
> resultant stretegy as it play sto both our own strengths and Zope's
> strengths we think.

Perhaps your use of External Methods is because you should not have been
trying it in DTML in the first place.  I have seen so many times DTML used
for things it just wasn't designed to do.  After all, it's not a programming
language.  External Methods, Python Methods, ZSQL Methods and all the other
methods are there for a reason.  To each its own purpose.

> So may question is was not:
> - "What comparisons should I have made 12-18 months ago?",
> but rather:
> - "What is presently the state of play in Zope vs. Other Alternatives ?"

I rant about the powers of Zope while admittedly not knowing much about the
alternatives for comparison.  I do know, however, that Zope is powerful and
has been loads of fun to work with.


Ron Bickers
Logic Etc, Inc.