Need advice on choosing the technology for intranet based application

Steve Holden sholden at
Wed Sep 18 18:49:03 EDT 2002

"Nenad Propadovic" <propadovic.nenad at> wrote ...
> Hello pythonistas,
> I'm about to write an application related to injury prevention in big
> industrial companies. It's supposed to be intranet-based (because the
> are reluctant to install it on x (where x>>1) clients). So: the client is
> web-browser. I still don't know whether I will get a server on my own, or
> I'll have to fit into an unknown web server environment, both options
> realistic.

Well, assume in that case that you should write for a CGI environment: it's
maybe not the absolute fastest way to go, but it's pretty portable, and so
you'll be able to make plans ahead of that particular decision being made
(or do you get to make it?), and you can accommodate almost any server in
this way.

> By now it seems the logic of the application will be simple. It's going to
> be a relational database with several tables, a modest number of users
> write priviledges, some more with read priviledges only. Performance is
> a big issue.

Great. Almost any language could eat this part up for breakfast :-)

> The GUI has a part I consider complex: I have to present some statistics
> form of charts or graphs.

The Python Image Library (PIL) is very good for creating graphics. You can
create them "on the fly" in your web server and then serve back HTML
documents with references to the created graphics.

If you need help, you can buy the professional PIL with a support contract,
I believe. The guy who wrote that software shows every appearance of knowing
what he's doing.

> Now I've never done any web based application in my life, have a very
> rudimentary knowledge of HTML, have been doing som database hacking (O.K.,
> engineering :-) ) with MS Access and Ingress/ Open Road, have once written
> socket-based combined telnet/ftp client.

You probably have enough programming experience for the task, although you
might need some help with the basics of the technologies.

> So I kindly ask for knowledgeable opinions on the following question:
> -which web/application server? I'm considering Zope (seams rather BIG when
> you download & unpack it, and it seams all possible web applications have
> been written for it) and twisted (smaller, seams lower lewel and somewhat
> easier to learn), and I'm wondering if there is something else out there,
> which is both powerfull and flexible and easy to learn and complete. Oh
> I have both a time constraint (mid november, having only my spare time for
> the project), and don't want end up rewritting the stuff under another
> system, because the chosen one isn't flexible enough. Database included
> would be nice.

Seems to me that CGI under Apache, while probably not the most exciting
cxhoice, should handle your requirements quite well. You're corect about
Zope: the learning curve is pretty high. Twisted is still a bit
experimental, and because of its somewhat unconventional architecture and
limited documentation that too might take a bit of learning. Both are
excellent products, but your constraints seem to rule them out (unless you
learn much faster than me).

The Python DB API means you can choose from a wide range of relational
database back-ends.

> -I assume the simplest way to present a graph/chart kind of graphic is to
> create a jpg/giff/tiff on the server side, and just show it on the client?

Correct. Otherwise you get involved with writing Java applets you can send
the data to, and things can get ugly fast ;-)

> Thanks to everybody taking the time to read the message, and even more to
> those who answer it :-)

A pleasure. There's a book called "Python Web Programming" by some chap
called Holden that might give you some useful background ...

> P.S. I'm just introducing Python to my group at BMW (a completely
> project, though), and I'll let you know if there are some bigger success
> stories.
Let us know what we can do to help!

Steve Holden                        
Python Web Programming       
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