Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Article on ACS x Zope

Posted by Don Baccus on
The article's not all that bad.  He points out that the ACS clearly is  more mature at the moment, listing e-commerce and other modules as being clear wins for the ACS.  After chalking up the pros and cons he states that Zope's better - it's the conclusion, not the data that's bizarre.

Also, he admits that his opinion regarding Tcl's being slow, etc, is based on hearsay and guessing.  He weakens his piece by then treating such unsubstantiated opinion as fact.  An objective and intellegent reader won't miss this less-than-subtle source of bias.  A Zope zealot (Zopealot?) won't care, having already made up their mind.

In my mind, a piece like this brings forth a couple of thoughts:

When it comes to toolkit acceptance, aD's dependency on Oracle is a liability.  It would be nice to see aD take a more proactive approach to supporting our efforts (via query abstraction, etc) because it will  be OpenACS, not ACS Classic, that wins the hearts and minds of the masses if there is any chance of this happening.  On the other hand, aD has a very clear business mission and founding a religion isn't one  of them.  I can't disagree with this decision.

From the technical side, the unstructured mess that is today's toolkit  is indeed a weakness, and even though the critic has only read about and not used it, he's managed to wander close to the truth (if he only  knew how buggy it is...).  We should code name the current release "mashed potato", because that's an accurate description of the formlessness of the toolkit as it exists today.

However, I don't believe a switch to an object-oriented paradigm or to  a language other than Tcl is necessary to greatly improve the toolkit  in this regard.  aD is (finally) adopting (at least some of them) the  attitude that there really should be a toolkit architecture rather than a bazillion pieces that aimlessly interact via brownian motion or  some similarly unordered process.  We'll see if they make a significant move in 4.0.  It's crucial that order be built out of the current chaos if the tookit's really going to mature into a truly engineered piece of work.

His praise of Zope in part stems from his belief that the object-oriented model followed by the team has led to a cleaner design.  My spin's a bit different - the design might well be cleaner,  as the ACS toolkit (as opposed to individual components of the toolkit) hasn't been designed but simply grew.  Again, I don't think a  paradigm shift to the OO world is necessary to generate a clean design, but a shift to SOME paradigm is...