Re: [Zope-dev] Michel's Reply

2000-10-25 Thread Michel Pelletier

Toby Dickenson wrote:

Sorry for the delay (book ... crushing ... head ... )

 Perhaps the hippo analogy isnt helping, so heres a more concrete example. In
 zope today it is possible for a user who has been granted the 'View
 Management Screens' permission in *one* folder to create a one-line dtml
 method that lets him see the management page of any other dtml method in the
 whole site.

Even above where the user is defined?  Are you sure?  That would be a

Your arguments are all pretty solid, I think we are just looking at
things from different perspectives. 
   Ive now nearly finished converting all my newbie zope
  projects back to
   a conventional O-O design. I have been bitten by all the problems
   listed above. The feed method *should* *be* implemented in
  a ZooAnimal
   base class.
  Ok, that's a valid approach.
 Can you explain any advantage of the approach you are advocating?

We're working to make Zope usable from the perspective of many
different, possibly non-programming users.  I agree that a feed method
on an animal base class is a good way to do it from the perspective of
an python OO programmer (which you and I are), but people need to be
able to pick up, say, our book, and start creating useful dynamic
content by dropping in objects, scripts, HTML and other stuff they can

I agree that this can also be a hinderance, I did some training in
california a few months ago and the company was doing all of their
application in DTML and external Methods and I convinced them (rather
easily because they were all coders) to make a Python product instead.  

Zope's audience can be pictured, like many things, as a bell curve. 
We're (most of us at least) all sittin' up on the top of the hump
looking down.  Understanding the perspective of someone at the bottom
looking up is essential to making sure Zope succeeds.

Python Methods are a perfect example of an object that is useful to us
at the top for advanced things, like methods of a animal base class we
use in our complex Zoo application, but they are also just as useful to
those at the bottom, as a simple little script written in python that
feeds the hippos.  Or unobfusicates their DTML.  Or iterates over a
database query.  It's useful and saves the time of these novice Zope
users if these methods can be flexible and reusable in different
contexts.  To me, this is the heart of the container vs. context binding
argument.  We at the top ususaly want the container because we're
engineering methods on classes.  Those at the bottom usually want
context for entirely different reasons.  Evan has done a great job
making an object that satisfies the entire spectrum, but in the process
has come up with something that is not entirely unlike a method in

I'm not longer arguing or advocating a particular stance on container
vs. context, Evan talked me into the legitimacy of both approaches. 
Right now, I'm arguing that we need a name that makes sense to
everybody.  'Method' makes sense to us at the top, but not to those on
the bottom, and there are a lot more of those people than us.


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RE: [Zope-dev] Michel's Reply

2000-10-23 Thread Toby Dickenson

 I'm not sure I grok what rightness has to do about it.  I 
 think this is
 right, to me wrong == broken.  This is not broken.

Let me persuade you.

  * someone adds an property named feed to an object at an 
  location in the containment heirarchy. This breaks the cron job that
  calls self.Zoo.Diet.LargeAnimals.hippo.feed(), and all the hippos
 This is the classic anti-acquisition argument, but it's a red 

I used to believe that too, but no longer agree. I changed my mind after
developing a large application in Zope, and spending alot of time
firefighting the problems that it caused.

 The same argument applies to inheritance; introducing an attribute
 between two classes in a generalized relationship and your app breaks
 and all the hippos starve anyway.

This analogy is false. If a programmer is responsible for a class and it
becomes broken in that way then yes, he is at fault. Fortunately there are
well understood principles for design inheritance relationships to keep this
easy. Each project has a finite number of classes. Each class has
dependencies to only a small number of other classes. Testing (is used
appropriately) can be used to ensure correctness, and this probably means
re-testing each derived class when a base class changes.

The same is not true of a containment heirarchy.

The containment heirarchy is managed by content managers, who are
responsible for content. After adding content they might test that content,
but they are unlikely to retest any functionality - its not their

The containment heirarchy is often large and sprawling. Acquisition-based
bugs occur on a per-instance basis, not per-class, and typically there will
be very many more instances in a system than there are classes. After a
change to an instance there is a need to re-test *every* *instance* below
the change in the containment heirachy. (When was the last time you changed
your root folder? Did you test your whole site?). This makes it impractical
to test them all.

You raised the question of whether this is an anti-acquisition argument or a
containtment-vs-context-binding argument. Please dont misunderstand me;
acquisition is great when used appropriately. However if methods bound to
containement then acquisition could not be used for the purpose you are
demonstrating here.

  Zope cannot be robust against
 programmer error.  Nothing can.

I, as a programmer, develop Zope products. My users install them on their

If your users are programmers then this comment is relevant, but I dont.

Adding a property to an object (using the Property tab in the management
interface) is a user-level operation. I do expect my systems to be robust
against user error.

(Note that it is even possible to 'break' Zope's own management interface by
adding some carefully named properties. Some of those are even WikiNames ;-)

  * someone uses self.Zoo.Diet.buildings.visitor_reception.feed(), and
  ends up filling the reception with hippo food. (This might even be
  possible for someone who has no permissions on the reception object)
 This is once again programmer error.

Do you mean the programmer who implemented 'feed'? If yes, Im pleased you
agree with me. Their mistake was to use acquisition instead of inheritance.
If they wanted to use acquistion then they would need to augment their
otherwise simple implementation of 'feed' with either:
1. Explicit security checks (hard to get right)
2. Explicit is_instance checks (inflexible)
3. Accept the fact that anyone granted the 'Feed Hippos' permission on any
hippo may dump hippo feed anywhere, or feed other hippos for which they do
not have that permission.

Perhaps the hippo analogy isnt helping, so heres a more concrete example. In
zope today it is possible for a user who has been granted the 'View
Management Screens' permission in *one* folder to create a one-line dtml
method that lets him see the management page of any other dtml method in the
whole site.

Why? because DTMLMethod's manage_main binds to context not containment.

  * someone uses
  and ends up feeding paper to the hippo. (that could even be someone
  who has no other permisions on that hippo object)
 This is the same as your first two arguments: programmer error.

(Note: Michel is right that this one is not immediately relevant
  to the binding discussion; its purely a demonstration of a
  misuse of acquisition. Its also a programmer error, but in
  Michel is that programmer)

The real problem here is that you are relying on acquisition from a context
that is not a direct container. Each instance only has one containment
heirarchy. However it has an infinite number of possible contexts, which are
chosen by the caller.

Suppose you have an (apparently correct) external method in Zoo:

def feeding_time(self):