Grok's release mill

  • By Martijn Faassen
  •  • 
  • 2008-10-07
  •  • 
  • Tags: 
  • grok
  • silva
  • plone

It already happened last week, but I thought I'd mention our Grok 0.14 release. Grok 0.14 is the first release of Grok that officially works with Python 2.5, though unofficially Grok has worked with Python 2.5 for a while on many platforms. There is already a report of Grok working with Python 2.6!

The other major change in this release is the spin-off of three new libraries that are also reusable in plain Zope 3 applications as well as in Zope 2 (through five.grok):

We've also spun off the grokui.admin package. This contains Grok's user interface. This should means it becomes possible to deploy Grok applications without this user interface included, which adds security to deployments.

Earlier already Grok has spun off grokcore.component, which is a layer on top of zope.component and zope.configuration enabling you to use Zope's component architecture while writing plain Python code.

Earlier still, the Grok project spun off the martian library for deducing configuration from Python code itself. Martian has much improved since its first release, making it easier than ever to auto-register classes with any configuration system of your choosing, define directives and declare sensible defaults in case those directives are not used.

Why do we spin all these packages off? Why not develop Grok as one big lump of code? The reality is that we can't anyway - Grok is based on a whole range of Zope 3 components and other packages that are developed separately. Why though do we make our lives harder and split off things from Grok itself?

First, thanks to buildout our lives are not that much more difficult. It's easy enough for us to continue to develop these packages in synch with each other when we want to. We can use svn externals to pull a development version of a package into another and then tell buildout we want develop using that version. This is basically an enhanced version of setuptools develop installation mode.

Still, why is it worth it?

In the abstract, splitting off separate packages helps us safeguard conceptual integrity of a package. Giving a package a separate identity makes us think about what this package is really for, and helps keep the scope of a package clear.

Since we use separate packages with separate reponsibilities, it allows us a smoother framework evolution as well - we can more easily decide to drop a feature from the core and adopt another feature into the core if these features are independently packaged.

Most importantly and most concretely, the separate packaging helps with code reusability. The Grok developers want the Grok technologies to be used by many people. We've already seen the uptake of our grokcore.* packages in plain Zope 3 projects by developers who like some of Grok's features but don't want to pull in all of Grok. Even more importantly Zope 2 developers are starting to use our technology in CMS projects such as Silva and Plone. The martian package has also seen use in projects like repoze.bfg. This way a wider community becomes a stakeholder in the Grok project, and we feel this is very important.

How easy is it to use our code in non-Zope Python projects? The answer varies. Martian has only a dependency on zope.interface. grokcore.component has a slightly larger but still very well defined set of dependencies and is still entirely reusable in any Python project. The other packages unfortunately are dependent on a larger set of Zope 3 dependencies making them not reusable outside of a Zope setting.

The Repoze project has made many Zope technologies available to the outside world. The Grok project is looking at starting to use some of that code. The Zope developers are also looking at the Zope packages themselves to see whether we can't cut some more dependencies here and there increasing their reusability. That's another advantage of separate packages: it makes us aware of reusability issues, and lets us work on it.