Jim Fulton wrote:
I replied to this privately. This has gotten so much discussion, I think
I'd better clarify my position.
On Mar 14, 2008, at 8:27 AM, Derek Richardson wrote:
I am the Plone champion for the buildout builder. The buildout builder
will be a web application, likely written in Grok, that will allow
textually-challenged users to configure a buildout via a GUI and
receive a .cfg in return.
Jim, you mentioned at PSPS-2008 that you would gladly help whoever
There was a misunderstanding or miscommunication.
Sorry about that.
I volunteered to help with a buildout-based installer. This is *much*
narrower than a buildout-building GUI. My thought was that, for a
simple installer, there could be GUI that asked the user some
high-level configuration questions and then ran a buildout included with
the software to set up instances. This is similar to what we're doing
for deployments at ZC where we have high-level non-buildout
configuration files that collect options that control instance installs.
The instance installs are actually done by running buildouts.
I have about as much interest in a GUI to help me write buildout
configurations as I have in a GUI to help me write Python scripts. :)
No, I don't think you're the target audience. ;)
I do see potential benefits of having GUIs or other automation tools to
help people get started assuming that the scope of these tools is very
narrow. They are only either to help people get started or for people
who's needs will never be anything but simple.
The audience is the question. Plone seems to be moving to a buildout-centric
model. We have developers who gladly use buildout (I am one of them); they will
continue to do just what they do now.
We have some users who use installers. Some of them will always simply use
installers and will be unaffected by the buildout builder. Some of them will
decide, after they use the installer, that they'd like to tweak their install.
Some of them will be text-comfortable and will move straight to modifying their
buildout.cfg. Some of them will not be and the buildout builder will be a good
incremental step for them - it will give them the ability to make simple,
supported changes to their buildout without having to face a blank spot in their
buildout.cfg and decide, ex nihilo, how to fill it. In this case, you can
consider the buildout builder a web version of the buildout-based installer with
GUI that you mention above.
A third category of user (in addition to buildout-mavens and installer-people),
perhaps specific to Plone, are systems integrators. These folks may have
considerable knowledge of Plone and technical skills in some areas, but may not
be buildout-mavens or even know (or want to know) Python. They may be
text-averse, not wanting to manipulate a buildout.cfg. They may not want to root
through the Python code of less-documented recipes to figure out configuration
options. They may simply want a less-steep learning curve. They may have complex
needs that they understand from a system-administration viewpoint, but may not
want to learn Plone behind-the-scenes, which includes buildout. I am not
defending these people's choices to not learn buildout (or Python). The simple
fact is that these people exist in sizable numbers in the Plone community and
their needs are important. We heard from them loudly after the 3.0 release and
at the PSPS. We need to address their concerns.
This audience may not exist in the Zope community-at-large. I don't presume that
anyone here wants to help me address their needs. I was simply following up on
what I thought was an offer of help, which turned out to be a simple hallucination.
That is the value in general. I, personally, have a more specific itch to
scratch. I'm interested in what I call Plone-on-Demand, the ability to host
Plone sites as a service. I want people who don't know Python or Zope or Plone,
who simply want a website, to be able to go to a web page, fill in some options
about what they would like in their website (skin, functionality, etc), and, 20
minutes later, get an email saying 'Here's the url of your new website -
enjoy!'. This competes with similar services built on PHP at providers like
godaddy. I want this for my university, which has a need for a web hosting
solution and I think Python/Zope/Plone is appropriate. The buildout builder is a
step in this direction. If I write the infrastructure for Plone-on-Demand, I
intend to open-source it. It could be used by other service providers who
currently shy away from Zope and Plone. It can also be used to provide demo
sites for evaluation, perhaps deployed on a public grid.
If you still think this is the wrong route to follow, I'm interested in hearing
your reasons. But, in my view, this is good for the Plone community in several
ways. Coupled with the new TTW story unfolding in Plone 4.0, Plone-on-Demand
could be quite powerful for users who never touch the filesystem directly.
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