[Zope] Announcing Narya Zope/MySQL Forum (1.0 pre-alpha)

Terry Hancock hancock@anansispaceworks.com
Mon, 29 Jul 2002 00:13:49 -0700

Narya, a Zope/MySQL based Web Forum
      from Anansi Spaceworks

We are pleased to announce the first publicly
available version ("1.0 pre-alpha") of our Forum
product, "Narya", which is now available in the CVS
at our SourceForge site:


Our own deployed instance may also be seen online at:

Mission Statement
Narya is meant to meet the goals proposed by the
Spacelift project -- to establish a collaborative 
environment for an open-source based approach to space
development projects (but the software may be equally
applied to many other tasks: software/hardware
technological developments, artwork, fiction, and other
humanities, etc -- anywhere where a highly-interactive
community wants to work collaboratively on projects).

After examining several different technologies and
design paradigms, as well as online user behavior,
we made the decisions that Narya should be:

1) Centered on a "Web Forum" paradigm.  Most of the
   "human-factors" work is based on this model.

2) Based on Zope/Python. In particular, we want to
   restrict code to a small set of languages, with
   an emphasis on Python. This is to facilitate making
   Narya easy to train developers for.

3) Have a concept of "ephimeral" posts and "permanent"

4) Have a strong focus on graphics support.

This is something of a departure from earlier analysis
in which we proposed adapting the existing Sourceforge
software, but we are now committed to the Zope-based
approach which has allowed very rapid prototyping.

The design strategy is to

1) Replicate basic PHP/MySQL forum functionality.

2) Clean up performance issues, to make Narya truly
   competitive with PHP/MySQL forums.

3) Build up the collaborative contribution types and
   establish a standard procedure for converting Zope
   products to Narya contributions (PlugIns).

4) Provide word-processing, graphics, and CAD support
   and Java-based client-side contribution editing

We hope to meet most of these goals by sometime in

Current Status

Clearly Narya does not yet achieve all of our goals --
contributions support is still very primitive, and
awaits considerable code rationalization to make it
easily extensible (which it clearly must become).

However, in its present incarnation, Narya is a functional
web forum, using a MySQL store for posts, much like
existing PHP/MySQL forums, but with a Zope/Python-product
front end.

The main distinction is the existence of multiple Topic
"Views" in addition to the discussion forum view, which
will seem very familiar to users experienced with PHP
MySQL forums.  Narya also has a more complex model of
"user scoring" which goes beyond simply counting posts.

Current Issues

Narya is "pre-alpha" and has a number of outstanding issues,
for which we'd like to solicit help from anyone interested:

* Image resizing ("VarImage"), is handled clumsily, both
  in terms of accurately handling anti-aliasing and transparency,
  and in the way images are cached.  See: VarImage.py and
  narya_image_ops.py and comments therein.  Actually, there
  are two complete implementations -- one using PIL and one
  using ImageMagick. Thus the results of the two can be directly
  compared.  We probably will move towards PIL, since 
  anti-aliasing is now supported in version 1.1.3, but it
  still appears necessary to use ImageMagick as a fallback.

* Installation is still very complicated and not well-enough
  documented, since we've only done it a few times ourselves.
  The hardest part is installing all the pre-requisites. We
  would like to talk to you if you are trying to install the
  software, and will be glad to answer questions.  The results
  will be incorporated into the INSTALL documents.

* Moderator and administrator interfaces are still very incomplete.

* Contributions are not separated well. It has been suggested
  that we should convert to the ZPatterns' PlugIns model to
  handle these, and we'd like to follow that up.

* The code needs some rationalization -- some modules may be
  extraneous, others perhaps need to be split.  Mostly this
  is for the sake of clarity to potential developers.

This is an open source project, and we would appreciate your
help and advice.

Discussion of Narya is encouraged on the Spacelift list:


or you can contact us directly at:


You can also discuss Narya on our Narya forum itself:


Thank You!
Terry Hancock and Rosalyn Hunter
Anansi Spaceworks

Anansi Spaceworks                 
P.O. Box 60583                     
Pasadena, CA 91116-6583