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Web Development with TurboGears and Python 43

rdelon writes "TurboGears was previously mentioned here as "Python on Rails". It has since made tremendous progress and is now a popular Python web MVC framework (along with Django). IBM developerWorks just published a great article about TurboGears and a book is on the way. Unlike Rails and Django, TurboGears is made up of several pre-existing subprojects. One of the great features of TurboGears is the 'toolbox,' which allows you to configure and check various aspects of your application and database in a browser."
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Web Development with TurboGears and Python

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  • by aymanh ( 892834 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:47PM (#15713311) Journal
    Excellent! For those who (like me) can't decide which Python web framework to pick and learn, this is a two-part series on both Django [ibm.com] and TurboGears from IBM, one can learn the basics of each one and decide.
    • Guido prefers Django (Score:5, Interesting)

      by YA_Python_dev ( 885173 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:41PM (#15713591) Journal

      FYI Guido van Rossum [wikipedia.org] prefers Django [artima.com] (from his blog [artima.com]).

      And people that use web frameworks in Python [python.org] will probably be interested in WSGI 1.0 [python.org] (the Python Web Server Gateway Interface) that will be added to the standard library in Python 2.5: it will probably be supported by all the major Python web frameworks.

      • by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT net> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @03:41PM (#15714310)

        Well, that can be understood, Turbogears for example is mostly "just another python framework" and a Rails ported to Python. If you want Rails, just use Rails (Ruby isn't hard to graps if you know Python... hell, it's even easy, just as switching from Ruby to Python is easy, once you overcome the minor differences)

        Django on the other hand offers a slightly different approach of the notion of web frameworks, and has the killer "Hey let's just give you complete administrator interfaces in like 2 lines" which is a true life saver (and the "default" admin interfaces look quite nice too, much nicer than anything i'd be able to code without a designer anyway)

      • > FYI Guido van Rossum prefers Django

        Guido is a language designer, not a web developer. What he prefers has absolutely no bearing considering that he was asking the community to teach him web frameworks 6 months ago.
        http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread= 146149 [artima.com]
      • How did you get from Guido's statement that "Django's gaining steam" to your statement that "Guido prefers Django"? Prefers it over what? Is that from your personal communication with him, something he said in public somewhere else, or are you reading something into that blog posting that I can't see? He doesn't mention anything about TurboGears or his preference in web frameworks, he simply states that Django is gaining steam in a big way. You're jumping to conclusions if you think that blog posting impli

        • """
          I took a brief look at Django, and while I like their website (pretty and easily navigable and chockfull of useful information), I'm not keen on the particular tools they provide (it doesn't help that they begin every example with "from mumble.something import *").
          """ - http://www.artima.com/weblogs/viewpost.jsp?thread = 146149 [artima.com]

          doesn't sound like he likes it much either...
        • by SimHacker ( 180785 ) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @01:40AM (#15717040) Homepage Journal

          Guide van Rossum writes [artima.com]:

          Re: Which was chosen?
          Posted: Apr 21, 2006 6:46 AM

          I'm using Django templates and am very happy with them. I've not had time to compare and contrast it to other frameworks, or even to try out other parts of Django. I do have to say that I am very happy with the way the Django project is being managed; they seem to really "get" open source community projects. I also like WSGI and Phillip Eby's wsgiref implementation, which has been made a part of Python 2.5.

          I've decided not to officially endorse a particular web framework; it would be way too big a responsibility. I do recommend that web developers (I'm still not much of one) get together, share experiences, and ask the web framework developers to standardize low-level APIs in additionn to WSGI (PEP 333). Also, I recommend setting up a wiki page where web frameworks are compared and contrasted, as a service to prospective users.

          So no, he doesn't prefer Django. It's official: he makes no endorsement whatsoever, except for the low level WSGI standard. He's using Django for at least one application, but he encourages people to compare and contrast all web frameworks.


  • by Ursus Maximus ( 540370 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:58PM (#15713370) Homepage
    Both TurboGears and Django are excellent. Furthermore, each has strengths for different kinds of projects, with TurboGears at its best for web applications and Django for big, industrial strength web content sites. Twisted and Zope are great too, but for most developers, Django or TurboGears is going to suit them best. Both are under rapid, well coordinated development and are proven solutions that will scale well over time. TurboGears' best of breed component approach is, in my opinion, a winning strategy, especially in the Python community since Python is blessed with so many great projects (some people think too many projects), giving a plethora of high quality, well maintained and best of breed components for TurboGears to choose amongst. There are multiple good tutorials on both frameworks here, http://www.awaretek.com/plf.html [awaretek.com] , as well as related podcast material about TurboGears and related Python material.
  • Community Oriented (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amcnabb ( 682951 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:04PM (#15713399) Homepage
    The article was interesting, but I disagree with their claim that, "TurboGears is more community-driven than Django because it was built with pre-existing, open source components." From everything I've seen, Django has a strong community behind it. I don't think I've ever seen an open-source project whose maintainer is as helpful to users and contributors than Adrian Holovaty is. He's extremely respectful and responds quickly to bug reports and suggestions. In addition to its clean, unified feel, the community is one of the main reasons I was attracted to Django.
    • A little off-topic, but anyone interested in Django should check out Google's TechTalk here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-704490109 42275062 [google.com].
    • by Senzei ( 791599 )
      As a counterpoint from someone who uses TurboGears, I would say that their community is in about the same state. Generally at least one the TG devs is able to handle issues with a given component, and if not there is an entire community dedicated to just that platform. Ultimately I see the TurboGears design philosophy as an extension of the unix "do one thing well" mentality. The usefulness and applicability of this in web development is a matter of personal opinion, but I think it still holds well.


  • "Toolbox is geared toward developers, not end-users, and is best used for aiding in data modelling and bootstrapping your application with data."

    In other words, if you have any other way to work with data in a database, you don't need "Toolbox".

    "A side benefit of the TurboGears framework is that it is a megaproject with a megacommunity. TG has become a powerful, central force, driving interest and involvement into the core components that make up TurboGears. It is the tide that raises all ships."


    • People don't tend to get genuinely enthusiastic about such thing unless there's a good reason, and I have to say that I have a similar level of enthusiasm for Python, although it's much less sexual than you are suggesting.

      I've no need for such a framework myself, but out of general curiosity I've had a good look at what it offers, and it does indeed appear to be a good fit to make light work of some very common web application development requirements.
      • People don't tend to get genuinely enthusiastic about such thing unless there's a good reason

        Oh yeah? Last time I checked there were still people genuinely enthusiastic about Java, and there won't be any reason to be enthusiastic about Java until Sun officially announce that they're deprecating it. Or that they're implementing C#3.0 leve functionalities (minus the stupid XML and SQL shintegration).

        Oh wait, there is already a JVM language with some of that stuff, it's called Nice, how about just replacin

    • "Toolbox is geared toward developers, not end-users, and is best used for aiding in data modelling and bootstrapping your application with data."

      In other words, if you have any other way to work with data in a database, you don't need "Toolbox".

      Actually the in other words statement is: "It was not made to be an interface for your users, don't try to make it work as one." The toolbox is a good intermediate option between building initial configuration into your app and doing it directly via raw database a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2006 @01:35PM (#15713548)
    Just the other day in the Ruby for Rails review thread, someone was saying:

    Soon to be obsoleted by Airways for Python

    Guido Van Rossum heard exclaiming that he was developing with SNAKES on a PLANE
  • Python to Ruby (Score:2, Informative)

    by Boone^ ( 151057 )
    I've been using Python for scripting glue at work for about a year now, but I recently had a small side project come up that was better served having a web interface to a database. Like everyone else, I downloaded/installed Rails. I had given Django a peek, but given that this is a side project, I didn't have the time nor energy to keep up with a rapidly developing platform. Django's website cautions about framework upgrades until 1.0 when the base API will be locked, so I went with Rails. Other than learni
    • Do you feel you've made the right choice?

      I, too, am looking to use one of the three frameworks you mention. I gave up on Catalyst--it's neat, but changing too fast for me. So I figure I'm going to be learning another language and framework at the same time. The recent slashdot review of the Ruby-for-Rails book tips the scales a bit toward RoR, mostly because I feel I could get productive faster. Would you agree?
      • Well, if you use Unicode then either Python based framework would probably be btter. Also, there are in general a lot more tools and libraries to help you on your way with Python coding than with Ruby coding.
        • Well, if you use Unicode then either Python based framework would probably be btter. Also, there are in general a lot more tools and libraries to help you on your way with Python coding than with Ruby coding.

          Probably (depending on what you're doing), but there is an extreme lack of plugins/extensions/whatever for Django and TurboGears when compared with Rails.
  • I watched the 20 minute wiki video and the biggest thing I noticed was that the AJAX page list took a LOT more code than the same functionality would in RoR. Other than that it looks nice, and it's good that RoR has some real competition.
  • Sort of in-between the two is [yet] another Python project, Pylons [pylonshq.com]. Borrows from Rails most heavily in controller/routing/helper(prototype/scriptaculous) areas, and it's extremely flexible, supports whatever DB layer you want, template layer, and URL dispatch. It heavily uses WSGI [wsgi.org] but you can ignore that fact if you don't need or want to bother with it to start. It runs on top of Myghty which is a python port of Mason(perl) and runs some heavy sites like bittorrent.com.
  • SqlAlchemy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by novitk ( 38381 )
    One excellent Python project that doesn't get enough publicity is my favorite ORM tool by Michael Bayer - SqlAlchemy http://sqlalchemy.org/ [sqlalchemy.org]. Think Rail's ActiveRecord with Hibernate power.

    There was some talk of integrating it with TurboGears to create some competition for SqlObject. Not sure where this stands currently.
    • "Not sure where this stands currently."

      Kevin Dangoor did his EuroPython 20-minute challenge using TG and SQLAlchemy, and he can't stop talking about how much SQLAlchemy kicks SQLObject's ass :)
  • License? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @05:22PM (#15714879) Homepage Journal
    From a quick glance it wasnt apparent how this is licensed.
  • > Unlike Rails and Django, TurboGears is made up of several pre-existing subprojects.

    You mean like Rake, ActiveSupport, ActiveRecord, ActionPack, ActionMailer, and ActionWebService?

    $ gem dependency rails
    Gem rails-1.1.4
        rake (>= 0.7.1)
        activesupport (= 1.3.1)
        activerecord (= 1.14.3)
        actionpack (= 1.12.3)
        actionmailer (= 1.2.3)
        actionwebservice (= 1.1.4)
  • by muchawi ( 124898 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @06:52PM (#15715285) Homepage
    In an attempt to combine all the best of web frameworks into one event, I interviewed Adrian Holovaty of Django on the Ruby on Rails podcast: Adrian Holovaty on the Rails Podcast [rubyonrails.com] He's a smart programmer and it helps to see the different philosophies behind the way popular web frameworks were constructed.
  • by fforw ( 116415 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @09:50PM (#15716131) Homepage

    While the article mentions Catwalk (toolbox app to set up initial database objects) it does not mention some of the very nice new features in Turbogears 0.9a6 [turbogears.org] (supposed to be real close to 1.0 now):

    • Identity Management
      The turbogears quickstart can now create a set of customizable standard classes to handle standard authentication and authorization. A User Group Permission model coming with easy-to-use identity decorators for exposed methods. ( Identity Management Documentation [turbogears.org] )
    • Widgets / Forms
      A system to create reusable Form Widgets (with optional scripting / styles) and to use them in forms -- including support for error display and data retention.
    • Internationalization support
    • Optional support for SQLAlchemy instead of SQLObject
    The newly added toolbox offers the following tools:
    • Catwalk (mentioned in the article)
      Database tool meant to ease the creation of initial data. Sure, you can always just use plain SQL to set them up, but managing relations between tables can be slow and bothersome, especially for N-to-M relations (RelatedJoins in SQLObject terms)
    • Model Designer
      Toolbox tool helping to design your models. (Showing diagrams etc)
    • Web based python console
    • Widget Browser
      Allows browsing through all available Widgets with working examples, example code and configuration help
    • admi18n localization tool
      Tool to collect internationalized strings and create new language catalogs

    I started playing around with Turbogears some time ago and like it very much. The documentation is a bit thin at times, but the source code is easy to read and accessible (using ipython to interactively explore things also helped a lot.) I implemented my blog [fforw.de] in python and had only minor problems. And the code size also turned out to be relatively small.. For the metrics fetishists:

    Blog with tagging, User handling (subscription, email confirmation etc), Image handling (upload, admin, thumbnails), atom feeds (general + tag based feeds) plus some minor things:

    • python code : 1181 lines, 40762 bytes
    • kid templates : 610 lines, 21200 bytes
    plus some style sheets, javascript code and images..
  • by fbg111 ( 529550 ) on Friday July 14, 2006 @01:33AM (#15717017)
    One of the most appealing aspects of Turbogears imho is the work to supersede the db layer, currently SQLObject, with SQLAlchemy [sqlalchemy.org]. The problem with most web frameworks is that their ORM db layers treat the db as just an object store, rather than as a relational database. This works for relatively simple 37signals-esque websites, but not for more complicated sites that require a relational algebra engine, for example any relativley complicated web-based BI application or booking engine. For example, one of the fundamental features of the relational model is that the result of any query against a table or number of tables is another table. In that respect, SQLAlchemy lets you map classes not just to tables, but also to joins, unions, and subqueries (which are themselves tables). Turbogears is the only framework I know of so far that is attempting to integrate SQLAlchemy. They're still in the relatively early stages [google.com] of the integration, it seems, but are working to provide an easy migration from SQLObject to SQLAlchemy when the latter is ready, making TurboGears top on my list of webframeworks to consider/recommend for new projects.
  • I've just completed a large project using TurboGears, and I'm quite happy with it, considering how new it is (not even to version 1.0 yet).

    The Kid templating system is wonderful and well designed: very Pythonic, XML centric, practical and easy to use. But it's pretty hard to trace and debug problems with templates, and it's not very smart about stripping out unnecessary white space (not a big deal, but the Kid compiler could be smarter about optimization, and inject extra information to make debugging e

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