[Web-SIG] Regarding the WSGI draft

Ben Sizer brsizer at kylotan.eidosnet.co.uk
Fri Aug 27 19:26:05 CEST 2004

Phillip J. Eby wrote:
> At 01:56 PM 8/27/04 +0100, Ben Sizer wrote:
>> No new framework or API or
>> 'standard' Python web service is going to break existing code, just
>> provide an alternative. Why therefore is there such a focus on
>> accommodating existing users and having them migrate over?
> Because if providing an alternative would actually change anything, then 
> things should have already changed by now.  Simply providing a new 
> framework will not create any technical or social network effects, so 
> that leaves marketing as the  force to drive adoption.

But if that framework is distributed as a standard library module, 
surely it will immediately gain wider recognition - and thus adoption - 
and also momentum towards improving it.

>> This is why I would like Python to have web support in the standard
>> library that is on a high enough level that you don't necessarily need a
>> framework to achieve something useful.
> As a practical matter, you'll need commuity support to get something 
> like that in the standard library, and the political reality of the 
> community is that you'll have to show why accepting your new framework 
> N+1 doesn't mean that frameworks 1 through N should also be included.

Does the suggestion in the Web-SIG charter no longer hold true then? I'm 
genuinely interested in the answer to that because the implication from 
reading it is that Python needs at least one 'good-enough' system in the 
standard library. However the implication from this list is that Web-SIG 
is more interested in catering for those who have already solved this 
problem and just want a bit more interoperability.

> Not at all; we have dozens of lines of ready meals with names like 
> Albatross, CherryPy, SkunkWeb, Quixote, and so on.  It's merely that the 
> marketplace is already crowded with such manufacturers and launching a 
> new line to compete with them isn't likely to be a profitable venture.

Sadly each of these seem to be subtly different, often with no real 
benefit to the user in those differences. For instance, all the 
different templating styles - looking at the difference between Cheetah, 
PSP, jonpy.wt, and Spyce, is there really any need for all of them? It 
seems to be a case of different syntax yet same semantics in 90% of 
cases. All of these packages seem to be of high quality and are notable 
achievements in themselves, yet I don't see that they're /really/ 
offering anything so unique that standardisation would handicap the end 

>> If we provided a simpler and effective baseline, even if that standard
>> only featured 90% of the power and flexibility of existing services,
>> then I expect we'd see a rapid take-up of that technology.
> You must be making some assumptions that aren't clear to me.  If 
> existing services provide 100% of those capabilities, why hasn't one of 
> them already taken the lead?

In my opinion, it's because they're underdocumented and/or overcomplex, 
and non-standard. I wouldn't know where to start with Zope. It took me a 
while to work out how to get something useful out of mod_python. 
Webware looks nice but provides an awful lot, 90% of which most people 
won't need, making it hard for beginners to get to grips with. And so 
on. I expect all of these and more besides could do /everything/ I would 
ever need from a Python web development platform. The question is 
whether it's worthwhile, given the other languages and tools available 
to me.

> But, how will you obtain the endorsement of the Web-SIG?  Keep in mind 
> that a lot of the people actually doing any work on the Web-SIG are 
> authors of existing frameworks, which means to get buy-in you have to 
> support their goals. 

I'm not interested in SIG politics, to be honest. If everybody goes away 
from this and decides I'm wrong or that my points are irrelevant to 
their needs, that's fair enough. I just didn't want to be the guy 
complaining 6 months from now and getting told, "well, you should have 
brought this up on Web-SIG earlier". I like Python as a language and 
just wished that there wasn't this paradox where such a simple and clean 
language doesn't have the simple and clean access to web objects that 
ASP and PHP do.

Ben Sizer.

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