[Web-SIG] Re: Just lost another one to Rails
ianb at colorstudy.com
Fri Apr 15 19:11:51 CEST 2005
Greg Wilson wrote:
> It's been a week now since my "Just lost another one to Rails" post,
> in which I said that a buddy of mine down in the States was switching
> to Ruby, after using Python for two years, because he and his
> colleagues needed a lightweight, ready-out-of-the-box web app
> framework. Responses so far seem to fall into several camps:
> - "I agree completely, that's why I'm adding yet another framework to
> the mix!" (I'm waiting for someone to stand up at PyCon and say,
> "Web App People's Front? We're the People's Front of Web Apps!")
> - Sneering: "Bah---Rails is impure! Unclean! We must keep our Python
> pure and elegant!" (Yeah... look how well that worked for Scheme.
> In my experience, most programmers value usefulness over elegance.)
> - Whistling in the dark. For example, Ian Bicking said, "...diversity
> isn't so bad if we can just make a compelling infrastructure
> experience." I respectfully disagree: right now, the diversity in
> this area is preventing any of the frameworks from becoming mature
> enough to be credible among the "I need to get it done now"
> developers I talk to. (Quick, how many copies of "Programming
> WebWare/Twisted/CherryPy/whatever" or "The WW/T/CP/whatever
> Cookbook" are on pre-order? Probably 3500 less than the equivalent
> RonR books.)
Well, I'm not sure I agree with the rest of these criticisms either, but
since you quoted me here I'll counter you on this one...
We have to deal with where we are now, we can't simply wish we were
somewhere else. Where we are now, there's a bunch of frameworks. So...
maybe that can be to Python's advantage, both because we can address
problems in a lot of different ways, and we can let natural selection
refine the choices we have. If this was ten years ago and I had been
looking at the state of Python web programming at the time, this is not
what I would have done. But it's not ten years ago, and this is where
we are, and instead of being sad about what we aren't, we should look
for the good parts of what we are and resolve what problems exist.
When *I* have tried to play around with different frameworks, I had a
surprisingly hard time of it, and that had a lot to do with
installation. I don't think anyone can say that we are doing great at
that -- different frameworks accomplish it in different ways, both
better and worse, but there's little consistency and it's a maintainance
and documentation difficulty for everyone, including framework
developers. So, there's some low-hanging fruit.
Would it be better if there were less frameworks? Sure, but so what? I
can't do anything with that. There's like what, a million web
programmers out there? I don't know, but whatever it is there's a whole
lot. If we try to split up the pie of *Python* web programmers then we
won't get far. But that doesn't matter much, because even if we split
the pie up into fewer pieces it's still not a very big pie.
> It also gives the impression of confusion and bickering, which is
> lethal when you're trying to persuade someone in the commercial
> world to adopt something that doesn't come with a 1-800 customer
> support line.
Bickering? Zope has a weird status in the community, and it sometimes
gets both fair and unfair criticism. But otherwise I don't see much
that I'd call bickering.
When someone posted an article to the Webware wiki on how to convert
your Webware app to SkunkWeb, no one complained -- frankly I think it
was good for Webware in addition to SkunkWeb, because we're not trying
to trap anyone. We're not making any money on this stuff (at least
directly), we don't need to cajole people into anything they don't want.
> - Frank acknowledgment of RonR's strengths (e.g. Peter Hunt's very
> welcome post --- Peter, I would have thanked you directly, but I
> didn't have an email address).
I'm not afraid to copy what I think is good in RoR. I like the
generator scripts, for instance, and I've already added that to WSGIKit.
I like that they set up test fixtures early, and I want to add that
too. But copying more directly is rather boring and wasteful.
> RonR is proof that new web app frameworks can displace existing tools
> like PHP. It's also proof that the existence of a lightweight ready-
> out-of-the-box don't-have-to-install-eleven-packages-to-make-it-work
> yes-the-tutorials-are-up-to-date no-you-don't-have-to-write-lots-of-
> idiosyncratic-XML-templates-or-configuration-files framework is
> important enough that large numbers of programmers will choose (or
> switch) their language on that basis alone.
> So, any bets we'll still be moaning about this after PyCon'06?
We might be moaning about something, but not the same things. It's
been, like, one month since PyCon? Personally I feel like I've made a
lot of progress in my own goals in that time. I wouldn't change my
assessment of Python web programming yet -- that's contingent on what
other people in the community do -- but I don't feel like we're
Ian Bicking / ianb at colorstudy.com / http://blog.ianbicking.org
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