Re: [EuroPython] EPC 2005: where and when?

Magnus Lycka magnus at
Thu Oct 7 23:58:46 CEST 2004

I wrote:
> > It seems to me
> > that Plone is designed to make web site designers and administrators
> > happy, and it seems that this happens at the expense of the visitors
> > of the web site.

Dario Lopez-Kästen wrote:
> It seems quite obvious that most people that have complaints about the 
> site do not know plone or zope at all;

I think your comment underlines my point. You shouldn't *have* to know 
Plone to smoothly and confidently register for a conference as a speaker 
at a web site, or to comment on a site's usability. The complaints come 
from user experiences, and it's obviously impossible for us to know 
to what extent problems are caused by the tools or by other factors. 
It's also difficult for the user to evaluate (and honestly also to 
appreciate ;) if the difficulties in user experience is the price for 
a smooth developer and administrator experience.

I don't have a clue about how useful these two systems were to the
track chairs for scheduling, and I don't know how easy they were from
a content management point of view. I only know that site navigation
and visitor registration was fairly smooth and straight forward in
2003, but felt confusing and a bit frustrating in 2004. I wasn't a 
speaker in 2003, so I can't compare that. I did add content to the
2004 EPC site, but it seems it basically got lost, and was later
largely duplicated by text added by others in other pages. It was
much easier for to get things to actually appear on the old site 
since a human being who understood that site read the mailing list,
found useful content in my mail and added that. Trying to involve
humans on the new site always led to the response "do it yourself"
which I tried, and didn't manage sucessfully, despite more than 20 
years of more or less daily computer use and 15 years as a 
professional software developer. Someone else has to judge whether 
I'm too stupid for Plone, or if Plone is too stupid for me (or both, 
or possibly neither).

I first investigated Zope when it was still called bobo. I haven't
used it very much though, but I've used ZODB in a fairly sized system,
and I've certainly played around with both Zope and Plone now and then. 
I even own two paper books on Zope, and read parts of them. Zope and
Plone never seemed right for any of sites I built, but I'm hoping that 
Zope 3 will turn out to fit my needs better. It seems to be going in
the right direction, but this has little to do with EPC. So, obviously
it's possible to have complints without being totally Zope ignorant.

We are all certainly aware that the site was developed under a lot of
stress by people who had a lot of other things (such as work) to think 
of. But I do remember people complaining about last years site, and 
telling how much better it would be with a Plone based site. From my
perspective, the site didn't get better. It got worse. Maybe that was
more a project management issue than tool issue. Hopefully, the site 
can be fixed. I didn't look a lot at the 2002 site, and 2003 was the 
second year for the old site. Maybe the 2004 site will get much better 
in its second year... :)

It's clearly possible to make Plone sites feel more polished than the
out-of-the-box look of the current EPC site, and perhaps a round peg
will actually fit in a square hole eventually...

I don't want to discourage anyone from working with it, and I'm really
greatful for all the efforts made to make EPC happen, both in 2004, in
previous years, and in the years to come. But I still think it's a poor
fit to use a CMS tool for business transactions and scheduling. On the
other side, it's impossible (or at least uneconomical) to build perfect

> I have also com tu udnerstand 
> that using Zope-based software is, to my utter amazement, a politically 
> controversial issue in the non-zope python world.

Zope software is controversial to many Python programmers, because it's
conceptually very different from Python. For instance, if you (like many 
Pythonistas) use the standard Unix tools to improve your productivity, 
and apply the many-small-tools-doing-one-thing-well Unix philosophy, 
Zope will fit poorly in your world. I don't see this as "political".

It's not just that it's a Framework, imposing control over your code, 
it also places your application instructions in an object database, 
together with the application data, which is something most programmers
try to avoid for good reasons. It also makes you work a lot in HTML 
forms, instead of your favourite editor.

I don't find it surprising at all that there is controversy around Zope,
concerning that it's been described as the Python killer application,
while being conceptually so different from Python as a development tool.
"Normal" Python development is very well integrated with traditional
software development tools and environments.

For me it's in many ways similar with software development in VBA in
applications like MS Excel or Access. Just as in these tools, you
get a lot of features for free, there are ways of "breaking the bonds"
both when it concerns the location of code, filesystem integration and
with editing tools etc, but it's still a bit awkward. Just like Excel
and Access, it can be very useful, and also very frustrating.

It seems to me that the Zope developers are working hard to eliminate
the problems and make it more Pythonic, and many of the best Python
programmers are involved in this, so I'm very optimistic about its 

Magnus Lycka, Thinkware AB  mailto:magnus at

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