The Rise of Zope

Zope at its birth in 1998 was neither a content management system nor a web framework. Zope was born too early; before we understood either very well.

Zope was like a futuristic space alien from another dimension. In many ways it was advanced far beyond its time. It was weird. Some of its weird ideas didn't work out, but there are also ideas in there that are worthy of further consideration even today. Some of its innovations were weird at the time but have now become the new normal.

Zope during its early days was big news, with a big community and a big codebase. It had been a commercial product at first, and then was open sourced by its creators -- a move that seems unremarkable now, but was so unprecedented at the time it gained wide-spread media attention.

One of its then-weird ideas that turned out to be a good idea was to write Zope in Python. Python at the time was still an obscure programming language. Zope was enormously influential on the Python community. Zope pushed the Python language beyond where it had been pushed before. People flocked to Zope, and some went on to Python. Zope caused the attendance of Python conferences to swell. In Europe, the EuroPython series of conferences was kicked off, in part, by people who used Zope.

This caused some friction, to be sure. Even today, many years later, passions can still be raised by Zope among Python developers. The Python language community puts an emphasis on clarity, and Zope was using Python in strange new ways, not always clear or clean.

This blog entry is a part of a series on Zope and my involvement with it. The first entry. Next.