[Zope] Help with Zope 'pitch'

Tony McDonald tony.mcdonald@ncl.ac.uk
Fri, 15 Sep 2000 15:36:14 +0100

At 11:35 am +0100 15/9/00, L.Doyle@salford.ac.uk wrote:
>  I hear Zope learning
>curves are steep, so I wonder if anyone can suggest how I can persuade
>Managers that it is worth investing time and effort.

To do many things is dead easy. This includes things like database 
lookups and reuse of web page 'components' (think of them as 
server-side-includes). The learning curve comes about because of the 
very different way that Zope works - and this is almost solely down 
to Object-Orientated principles. For example, in a static web site, 
you create an index.html page in every folder in your web site. If 
you have 2000 folders, then you need 2000 index.html files (or 
index.php3 or whatever). With Zope, you can have *one* index.html 
file at the top level of your web hierarchy that would do for all 
your 2000 folders. In folders that are special, say admin folders, 
you can change the index.html to be something else. You can also lock 
that file down so people need to authenticate to get into the folder. 
Suppose your web site is composed something similar to this;


(extend this out as much as you like)

You can see there's a lot of duplication there.

Using Zope, You can effectively 'create' those 2000 folders by simply 
writing out a URL, such as /postgrad/courses/taught/year1/action. The 
'action' part will collect all the components together and create a 
composite web page. This is where some of the learning curve kicks 
in, as what you need to do to use Zope to greatest benefit is to look 
for commonality and uniqueness amongst all the components you are 
collecting together.

>Can anyone say in
>a few paras what Zope can do and what its benefits might be (lay
>language appreciated);

I've probably gone way over the top there, but essentially you get to 
create dynamically rich *maintainable* web sites in a very short 
period of time. These web sites can be broken into logical chunks, 
that allows for very easy distributed management. eg in 'admin' 
above, you pass off the management of that 'branch' to someone else. 
If they then create an internal section of admin, they can also pass 
off responsibility of that part to someone else.

>also any anecdotes of how long it took to get to
>grips with it.

I had some people come to the Med School on a Sunday and had them 
creating pages that were built from components in about 20 minutes. 
By the end of the afternoon they had several pages made and one or 
two had pages that were doing a database lookup.

>  Is it worth using it for a Web site that is
>predominantly static pages (with ambitions for development)?

There are some excellent 'products' (think plugins) that can mirror a 
static web site quite happily. You can then add the dynamic parts as 
you gain in confidence. I'm specifically thinking of the LocalFS 

>Still a Web Novice but working on it - Linda Doyle!

not for long we hope...
Dr Tony McDonald,  FMCC, Networked Learning Environments Project 
The Medical School, Newcastle University Tel: +44 191 222 5116
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