[sclug] Ways of updating a web site

pieter claassen pieter at countersnipe.com
Wed Dec 31 08:45:00 UTC 2003

Hi Antony,

I have been playing with Zope (python based web application server:
www.zope.org) and have had good results with some caveats.

For all web stuff from beginners level to pretty advanced it is great
and reasonably documented. However, things do get a bit sticky if you
try and do large projects in it because you have to then develop a
"Product" in Zope parlance and that means probably abandoning the
coolest feature of Zope that is its through the web management and
development interface.

Also, some of the 3rd party products are at a little flaky and depending
on your OSS profile, you might get a good response from the maintainers
or not. I am thinking of Squishdot as a slashdot replacement, the
E-commerce module and even things like Z-classes which is a web frontend
for building Zope products.

Otherwise I will highly recommend it.

The main benefits of Zope over PHP or Perl as CGI dev environments are:
1. Standardisation because your application and data is in a Zope DB
(ZODB is their OO DB) and it can be backed up and moved to any other
ZODB and deployed in minutes with the same look and feel etc.
2. Built in authentication and authorisation framework (very
comprehensive and well debugged in Zope. In conventional CGI you have to
install somebody else's or roll your own or use webserver features and
security is an issue.)
3. Version control, RDBA and Z SQL interface, Z catalog (site catalog
and search facility) and other tools directly integrated in Zope. You
can get these things for PHP etc. but there is not always an easy
upgrade path and getting a consistent look and feel across all your
applications is a major issue.
4. Then there are some products in Zope which are supper cool like the
Zwiki which is just wicked!
5. With a bit of effort it handles ftp and virtual hosting well.
6. It has a complete Content Management System in it but I have not
really looked at it in detail.

Most distro's come with Zope packaged so just explore and see what you
think of it.

A last word of advice, be careful about developing large products in the
Z classes interface because your time might be wasted. I developed a
bulletin board as a Zclass and it worked pretty well. However, when I
exported the product for distribution, it enables its DRM by default
which meant when I installed it on a new system and wanted to make
changes to it, it wouldn't allow me (the owner of the product didn't
allow for GPL type behaviour). Having blown the original development
environment away, I was stuck with a "windows media player" that didn't
work too well.

Hope this helps,

On Tue, 2003-12-30 at 17:59, Antony Bartlett wrote:
> What way of updating their web-site would you guys recommend to beginners?
> I thought I'd ask because it's something I've been asked myself a couple 
> of times recently, and don't feel I have an adequate answer.
> I could have been a big fan of Freeserve's site builder 
> (http://sitebuilder.freeserve.com).  The entirely web-based interface 
> seems ideal for beginners, with the second tier - FTP My Site ensuring 
> it has some life beyond that too.  Except that:
> 1) Now that my girlfriend has been using it for a couple of weeks, it's 
> starting to look a little flaky to us.
> 2) There's no way of writing standard html.  I had fun creating this, by 
> the way:  http://standards.mysite.freeserve.com
> 3) Obviously it's closed source, so I can't do anything about either of 
> the above.
> So now I'm looking for some nice open source web-app/groupware, that I 
> could run up on a Linux box somewhere, or which is already hosted.  I've 
> seen a few nice looking on-line html editors, and it looks to me like 
> any idiot could write a GeoCities style interface in PHP for uploading 
> files to the web - you know, a web-page with a browse button and an 
> upload button that you need a password to access.  Hell, I've just 
> started learning PHP, I probably AM that idiot.  But I've yet to see the 
> complete package.
> Any advice appreciated.  If I'm slow to respond, it's because I'm about 
> to start trying to build Linux From Scratch (which I've long promised 
> myself I'm going to have a go at), and my system is probably tied up in 
> hideous knots a long way from any web connectivity or mail clients ;-)
>     Best wishes,
>        Antony
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