Repoze: Retooling Zope
During the last couple of weeks, I have been privileged to help out with Repoze, a new open source Python project. Repoze is “plumbing Zope into the WSGI pipeline” but also much more.
I’m not a Zope developer but I’ve benefited from Zope indirectly in several ways. The most significant for me has been Supervisor, a process management system. It’s not part of Zope itself but it originated from a need to keep production Zope servers running smoothly. I started using it for other kinds of servers, and fast forward a couple of years and now I’m very involved and help develop it.
Supervisor is interesting to many Zope outsiders. It might have grown out of the needs of running Zope servers, but it’s a tool that many others can benefit from using. I think parts of Zope itself also have similar potential for outsiders.
Zope has been around for a long time and for many was thought to be the “killer app” for Python. Philip J. Eby wrote about the significance of Zope in Where Zope Leads, Python Follows. I’m interested in Zope not because of the application server as a whole but because it has many technologies like an object database, transactions, and object publishing that I’d like to explore.
It seems that quite a few technologies that are gaining mindshare now through new developments have been available and stable in Zope for many years. As an outsider, I want to be able to consume bits of Zope technologies for other kinds of projects.
The problem that Zope has is that its technologies aren’t accessible to outsiders in the same way as Supervisor. To the rest of us, the Zope world is largely a mysterious monolith. Projects like Grok make it easier to get started by bringing Rails-like conventions to Zope development, but many of the core Zope technologies remain largely inaccessible for new purposes without putting in a lot of effort.
Repoze is changing that in a significant way. Repoze is packaging Zope technologies into components and middleware that can be easily deployed on WSGI servers. This is a win for Zope applications because it means better deployment options like Apache and mod_wsgi. Breaking up the monolith and providing more options will help the longevity of their platform.
For the rest of us, a more modular world of Zope means that eventually, many of the interesting technologies that Zope has to offer will be closer in reach and more practical through a combination of WSGI middleware and better packaging.
Repoze already seems to have great momentum and I’ll be watching it with interest. I look forward to exploring what the Zope world has to offer through Repoze.
Update: This post was featured on Repoze Notes.