> 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
> > starve.
> 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
> 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
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:
A malicious user browses to /Zoo/buildings/office/laserjet1/feeding_time.
The problem is that acquisition from context outside the containment
heirarchy doesnt do what you expect. When the external method looks for the
'feed' attribute it will actually find it from the printer object. This
allows a malicious user to call methods on the printer object to which he
does not have permission.
Jim (if you read this far): Was there a good reason why acquisition needed
to look anywhere other than containment heirarchy?
> > 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?
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