[Zope3-Users] interview for my diploma thesis about Zope 3 in education

David Johnson djohnson at jsatech.com
Tue Jan 23 08:49:31 EST 2007


Our company services Higher Education exclusively and so we have some  
experience here.

On Jan 22, 2007, at 1:08 PM, Dominique Lederer wrote:

> Hello list!
> currently i am writing my diploma thesis at the University of Applied
> Science in Austria, Vienna.
> The topic is about the usage of Python and Zope (3) in education.
> There are a lot of papers concerning Python and education, but i found
> not much about Zope there. So this seems an interesting topic to  
> discuss.

> For my diploma thesis, i would like to ask you to anwer or discuss  
> a few
> questions, to see, what you think about this.
> (of course i will cite all the stuff)
> Here they are:
> * Do you think Zope (3) can be used at school or university level to
> support topics in computer science education? What topics would you
> recommend? Why?
I definitely think Zope 3 can be used to support education.  We plan  
on developing a number of applications in this area. It seems at  
present that universities are focusing on J2EE and .NET, like most  
companies.  We are also noticing an increasing ability of  
universities to do their own development.  Traditionally many of the  
software applications that universities use have been purchased. We  
see an increasing desire to build and customize applications in  
house.  We also find however that in universities the funding and  
resources required to manage a J2EE or a .NET project are not  
necessarily there.  We believe Zope could fill this role because it  
is faster to develop in, and python is fairly easy to learn.  We find  
that universities tend to have developers who are a bit less  
experienced, and this sometimes includes administrators who actually  
want to do their own development.  J2EE and .NET is not easy to pick  
up for the novice. In this area Zope 3 is particularly challenging in  
comparison to Zope 2, however there are entry points in Zope 3 with a  
minimal amount of TTW development.  In this sense I personally feel  
strongly that Zope 3 needs to have a greater emphasis on TTW  
development so that it can satisfy the needs of the intermediate  
developers.   However I feel that Zope 3 is such a clean and well  
developed platform that more of these tools will show up.
> * How would you convince someone who is in charge to use Zope 3 in his
> curriculum?
It really depends upon the costs and benefits and the organizations  
goals.  I always find it better to examine products that exist and  
that suit your needs.  Zope  was developed (as I understand and may  
be incorrect) by a professor in Computer Science in order to explain  
web development and instruction on application development.  Read  
about the history of Zope.

Personally, our company prefers not to hire people with Computer  
Science training.  This is because we find that professors and  
university education in this area is more philosophical and a bit out- 
dated; students tend to come out with a mindset that says "what's the  
most proper way to complete a project?" rather than "How can I get  
this done?"  J2EE and .NET are similar.  In engineering there is the  
constant battle between form and function.  J2EE and .NET are all  
about form.  They are very elegant, and fit all the philosophical  
models of computer science, and in particular UML.  This however is  
their weakness.

When engineering the ultimate goal is to come up with a great  
solution to some problem.  The solution starts as a thought and needs  
to be converted into a application.  Programming languages that  
reduce the barriers between thought and application are preferred.    
PHP does this very well for example, however it suffers from  
scalability issues because it is all about function and not form  
(ditto Perl).  In my experience when you use J2EE you spend a lot of  
time converting the problem in your head into a J2EE application.   
Because it does not directly parallel thought it is prone to error;  
when an application fails it is hard to get your head around it and  
fix it.   As Stephan Richter once told me, Zope strikes a nice  
balance between the direct thought to coding present in PHP and the  
well thought out form of a J2EE application.   I wrote an application  
to list automobiles online: it took 2 files/objects in Zope, and 36  
in Java.  Java can be so abstracted and modular that you spend more  
time trying to code than actually solving and implementing the  
problem and being productive.

J2EE and .NET are also about marketing.  It is important to note that  
none of the major providers: Oracle, Sun, or Microsoft use these  
technologies in their own core applications.  Most of them still use  
C/C++.  They will use J2EE or .NET for auxiliary applications such as  
the Oracle install, but it stops there.
> * How do you see Component Based Software Engineering (CBSE)  
> related to
> Zope 3? What are the differences? Is Zope 3 an alternative for other
> component based frameworks in the industry and why?
I'm not sure I understand the question on this one.  Zope can be used  
to provide components in an XML-RPC model, or just about any other;  
this is the nature of the content view model of Zope.

> * How do you see the future of Zope? Where do you (want to) see it  
> in 2
> years?
I would like to see more TTW development and a great ability to  
integrate with SQL relational databases.  The power of the Zope  
platforms leads me to believe these will be available within a few  

> thank you very much
One point of view. Hope it helps.

> cheers
> Dominique
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