Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

PyCon 2006

So, I really enjoyed PyCon. I felt a little overwhelmed at times. There were a ton of people I wanted to talk to but didn't, or where we only had a quick hi.

I wasn't sufficiently prepared for my talks. I'm afraid the talk I gave on Eggs was very well attended -- because Eggs are all the rage and people want to know more about them -- but I didn't tell people what they needed to know. I gave a talk about the issues I've encountered using Eggs for plugins, and some vague suggestions for how best handle that case, and people really just need to know about basics; using Eggs for plugins is something people will want to know about next year, this year they just need to know about using Eggs at all. And if I'm going to talk about pitfalls and techniques, I should do so in a more concrete way. Like I could have told the story of Paste or something (Eggs clarified a lot of things in Paste for me). I felt better about my other talk, which was more-or-less about deploying web applications. Steve Holden summarized it nicely -- I'm sure his summary is more useful than my slides. I was really frustrated, though, that I couldn't find a picture of the scene in Star Wars where Luke smashes Vader's helmet only to see his own face. Oh Internet, how could you have forsaken me!

Dallas turned out to be a fine venue. I never spent much time appreciating DC in previous PyCons anyway. And for all the criticism Dallas gets (probably simply because it is in Texas), Addison is virtually indistinguishable from suburban Chicago (except warmer). Which sucks for Addison and suburban Chicago -- glad I don't live in either -- but it's perfectly fine as a venue for PyCon.

I think there was a lot of good communication between the different web frameworks, especially with Django, TurboGears, and Zope people all around for the sprints. It's still a little hard to find the actionable items for us to work on together, but I think everyone is open to them as they emerge.

We made some really good progress on pushing WSGI further into TurboGears during the sprint, with a branch that uses RhubarbTart and streamlining the interaction of RT's CherryPy-style object publishing with a heterogeneous stack that includes WSGI among other things.

Several Zope people were working hard at refactoring Zope 3 into a series of eggs, which will also be really important. People outside of Zope are quite willing to use Zope 3 code and take advantage of the things they've been doing there, but the packaging is really critical to making that possible. And with WSGI underneath Zope (and even Paste support!) I'm hoping we see a much more fluid exchange with the rest of the Python community. Up until now, Zope's only exchange with other Python web developers has been through ideas not actual code. I heard a couple rumors about renaming Zope 3 -- in part because it's really Zope Five (the Zope 2 + Zope 3 fusion) that is continuing the Zope legacy. I think that also would be a good idea, but the packaging is much more concretely important. One of the first things that would be nice to see extracted is the transaction manager. A modern and clean ZPT distribution would be nice too. After that I think Zope as a WSGI server would be nice to see -- making it easy to embed other people's WSGI applications into Zope (both into 3 and Five).

I had a long conversation over beers about Zope adaptation, with Chris McDonough and Tres Seaver. I'm anti-adaptation, I'm afraid, and I think questions about adaptation and interfaces are going to be the big barrier for adoption of bits and pieces of Zope 3. As it is zope.interfaces is the one requirement I expect almost every Zope 3 package will have, and that does scare people off. In part Eggs will help that, but I think adaptation is more intrusive than just the fear of C extensions. But we drank too many beers for me to remember the entire argument. Oddly, interfaces aren't really controversial, but at the same time adaptation seems more comfortable for dynamic languages (as interfaces without adaptation implies type checking). And yet, it's adaptation that bends people's minds. When it comes down to it, I think:

I'm hoping that Zope people will start to break down Zope into pieces -- however small -- that don't depend on zope.interface. And then they'll start to visualize an infrastructure that doesn't require adaptation; or they'll simply start using such an infrastructure (perhaps if they start using WSGI in places as an internal protocol) and they'll like it. The Zope community I met at PyCon -- including Jim Fulton (the Zope BDFL) -- all seem interested enough in participating this larger, more inclusive, more fluid intersection of web frameworks, and even radical changes in Zope 3's perspective don't seem impossible.

But anyway, I kind of randomly digressed into Zope thoughts. I feel entirely optimistic about the interactions I saw between Python web framework authors, and I look forward to that continuing.

Created 08 Mar '06