application serving? (zope/corba/mod_python/webware/cgi)

jerry_spicklemire at jerry_spicklemire at
Sat Sep 30 00:26:30 CEST 2000

In article <39D4C909.AA9E364E at>,
  Nick Bower <bowern at> wrote:
> i'm trying to learn a little about using python for web applications,
> and have come across various ways to do it.
> my very basic understanding is that mod_python/webware are server-side
> incude type things (all fine there), but then someone told me that
> embedding a persistent interpretter like this is a fairly fickle way
> of operating, and a full corba implementation is more robust.
> can someone explain the difference to me?  and where zope fits into
> this scheme?

To my understanding the differences you're looking at are very broad.
FastCGI is fine, but you'll be developing everything from the ground
up. That's where WebWare, Quixote, etc. come in. Treat them like the
Python modules that they are, and you'll have a leg up getting some
HTML out where folks can see it.

On the other hand, Zope is a sophisticated framework that can support
content management, and Web based Application development. In that
sense Zope is just a "bigger, better" WebWare, or Quixote, or whatever.
Of course, if you look into WebWare, Quixote you'll quickly learn that
to their creators bigger <> better. For their needs Zope was overkill,
or at best, not ideally optimized.

One attractive element of Zope is the rapidly growing selection of
contributed modules for everything from security, and authentication,
to XML document publishing. The Portal Toolkit is an especially
promising project, that's recently gone through a major "re-factoring".
That's OO talk for "new and improved".

As for CORBA, it is a large, complex specification that is intended
to allow the creation of very robust distributed applications, that
are absolutely platform independent. At the opposite end of the
distributed application spectrum is XML-RPC, a simple, lightweight
standard that was implemented within the Zope environment literally
overnight. Another iteration on this theme, that falls somewhere in
the middle between CORBA and XML-RPC, is SOAP.

> perhaps someone could reccommend some reading on this area - the ways
> of executing code from the web seem to be very fundamentally
> different.

If you're into Objects (as in Python) there are some big-picture
overview sorts of papers at, about "Mapping URLS to Objects".
A true Zope addict might say, "That's Zope", but most folks need just
a little bit more explanation to get the gist.

The main thing that stands out as unique about Web Applications is
"statelessness". The gyrations we wind up going through to make sure
the person who just hit a link is the same person who hit another
link five seconds ago, can be onerous. On the other hand, the payoff
in universal access is hard to argue with!

Jerry S.

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