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Why Choose SquishDot?
Newbies Posted by Bako Bitz on Tuesday June 19, 11:19AM, 2001
from the newbie who doesn't know what he's talking about dept.
I'm a relatively experienced computer user who has nevertheless never ventured into the world of UNIX or web-server software. I want to start an academic discussion site, which I plan to run on my university's servers, and have to choose between the various 'dot' influenced programs, but I'm not sure of the pros and cons of each. Are you...?

I've looked at Slash and Scoop and Squish, and from what I can tell, Squish is the simplest of the three; it doesn't seem to have the whole voting system / user moderation business, and that's fine with me (although I do need to exclude non-members from posting articles; I can do that, right?). What I don't know is whether that simplicity translates to the installation, which I now greatly fear.

I want something easy to install on my university's UNIX servers which run Apache (see, I don't know anything about this kind of stuff). It will be from my directory, many generations from the root directory, which might cause trouble from what I've read of the Slash installation procedures. Obviously, I can't afford to consume a lot of server resources, but I don't expect that much traffic anyway.

Could anyone experienced in these things tell me what the pros and cons are of these different packages? Should I go with SquishDot because it's simpler, or is there a compelling reason to consider the others? Which is the most easily installed and especially customized? Are there other packages that are similiar to the Slash style?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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    ( Reply )

    Re: Why Choose SquishDot?
    by Amr Malik on Saturday June 23, 02:26AM, 2001

    I'm a newbie myself, and I have gone thru the process of deciding at what package to use for pretty much the same type of site you described. What you need to understand is that you're buying into the Zope way of doing things if you decide to go the squishdot way! (Which is not bad at all if you ask me). My site is www.tingoo.com. This is related to Urdu Poetry, so the postings art not gonna make much sense to you unless you know the language! If you like any feature, feel welcome to ask how I did it.

    I have looked at the following products: All of these I have tried on my local Win2k machine first, but translating it to Unix shouldn't be too hard (you have to be the persevering kind though!)

    • PHPNuke -- you need PHP, MYSQL, PHPNuke on top of that, Apache of course . I used IIS, Its a bit of a "closed" development system. The developer (nukelite) is the only guy who releases the product at regular intervals, it has user login thingy out of the box. I didn't use it cuz I don't think it would scale for me when the time comes! (www.phpnuke.com)
    • ACS -- you need AOLServer+TCL+Oracle or (postgreSQL) I think its more trouble than its worth if all you want is just a basic homegrown Slash type site with basic user/login capabilities. (www.arsdigita.com). I think Phillip Greenspun's book on that site is a great read regardless of what package you use! (trust me on this one!)
    • ZOPE -- All you need is Zope really! (it has got a decent webserver, ftp server, an object database etc built right into it.) Your learning curve is going to be steeeeeeeeeeeep! (IF you want to add functionality) but you're going to love it! (if you don't give up and go running back to PHPNuke or some such!)

    Why I chose Zope?

    Because it rocks! every problem that I think I'm gonna have to solve in my community portal, is solvable -- The community is great, but you have to do the legwork. You're not gonna get stuff spoon fed to you, but that's not the way to do things anyway now is it? The documentation is tons, but its sparse and disjointed. Prepare yourself for lots of searching the archives etc. When things work, they work great! (and most of the times they work, unless you start venturing into uncharted [for you] territory of acquisition, object-orientation, and other funky stuff, for which you should do the basic reading which includes The Zope book, the howtos (in no particular order), Dieter Maurer's book etc.

    Why Squishdot?

    Well, in my personal opinion, Squishdot is Zope's killer app (I might get some flaming arrows for this one, but this is just my personal opinion)

    • Once you have a basic Zope installation working, it works out of the box. Just install the product, add water (or beer or [Z,D]ope and voila! ;)
    • Very minor tweaks are needed but you get major news site (SlashDot'ish) functionality right away!
    • You can add functionality to it, but you have to know DTML and how things work in the Zope's object oriented, acquisition saturated world. If you plan on extending Squishdot (logins, custom polls, user tracking) Brace yourself for impact. But please do check out the current functionality, which I think has a great "instant hardon factor" right out of the box!
    • If you choose your subjects wisely, you have great cataloging facility right out of the box, your articles are searchable thru Zcatalog which is awesome (in my newbie vocabulary). For technical details on it see zope.org search box :) or the Lists at NIPLTD Zope List Archives
    • Also, the searching works out of the box, without you doing anything IQ'ish with the subjects, but generally you'd want to categorize your site using the subjects.

    Users/Logins: This feature is not there in Squishdot out of the box, I've been trying to get a lazy man's loginator, and haven't found it. Some users at squishdot site have implemented it, Darrick Wong is one of them (He's got a great site at thibsdot.)

    If you get it working, let me know how you did it :)

    This is in my limited understanding of what you need (to get a SquishDot site going):

    • Latest stable Zope for your flavor of unix (2.3.2)
    • latest version of squishdot (1.2.1)
    • TinyTitties product (sorry, coulnd't resist it ;-P ) its actually called TinyTable
    • 2 parts python,
    • 1 part basic programming skills,
    • 1 part basic installation skills (unzip, install, set variables)
    • 1 part insanity (very important, leave now if you don't have this ingredient ;) See note below if you think you can't provide this ingredient!
    • 5 parts patience
    • Note: you may replace insanity with 1 part obsession, take your pick!

    Good luck! and fare well! (hopefully I didn't scare the bajeezas out of you, but you're entering a brave new world! so.. que sera sera! )


    [ Reply to this ]
    • Oops! missed the installation part!
      by Amr Malik on Saturday June 23, 03:30PM, 2001

      Okay, I installed it on a win2k machine using the binary download. I used the builtin webserver without doing any gymnastics vis-a-vis getting Zope working with IIS etc. even though its possible. This was definitely easy. What you have to do with your site may go something like this:

      • Download the related Zope sources or RPM or package or whatever the current buzzword is for that lump of stuff that's gonna give you Zope.
      • Read through all the release/Install notes on the download page, and anything else you can find related to installing on your particular platform. (I'm not being much help not outlining everything, but this is what I would do since I haven't done a Zope on Unix installation so far)
      • Give yourself some time and absorb the docs
      • Just give it a whirl in the edu'ish account you recieved from your friendly Unix Admin.
      • You may have to fiddle with the port. Good chance 8080 is not being used, if you're lucky and sneaky, you may be able to use 80 (Can't tell you how though)
      • Social Engineer the particular sys admin, or take him/her out for a beer etc. Simple attention works wonders sometimes :) (I know, I've been one)
      • See if you can connect to your Zope installation, on the designated port (8080 or some such)
      • When you got Zope working (you can look at mgmt screens, create simple dtml methods) Go thru the simple Zoo tutorial in the Zope Book (btw, you're in your 2nd week of effing around with Zope by now). The upfront work is well worth it!
      • Now you may start looking into installing and futzing with Products (Squishdot is one)
      • Install Squishdot and play around with it, it should work out of the box. If it doesn't, don't worry, bang your head on the nearest wall a couple of time and go for a beer. It will all fit together after a couple brewskis. :)

      In short, just the install of Zope and squishdot without delving too deep into the docs is -- not too much of a "bitch" (rhetorical) -- about three day's work. However, reading supporting docs and the first couple chapters of the Zope Book (ZB) will bring your head banging to a minimum!

      There is a good chance that you're way smarter than me and you'll get this whole thing working in a couple of days! So YMMV! (and other cool sounding acronyms that convey the same meaning! and make me look like I know what I'm talking about ;)



      [ Reply to this ]
      • Re: Oops! missed the installation part!
        by Darrick Wong on Sunday June 24, 09:27PM, 2001

        -w80 makes Zope listen on port 80. Thanks for the plug!

        There's also something called AtDot which does a similar thing as the rest of these weblogs. But, at the time that I was looking at weblog products, Squishdot and Slash were the furthest along, and Slash was vast overkill for our needs (and would have killed our Pentium 200). Of course, that was December 1999...but anyway, we deployed Zope+Squishdot and have been fairly happy ever since.

        A few annoying things about Zope/Squishdot/Python:

        1) Lack of good user folders for Zope.

        2) Inconsistent indentation styles \t vs. ' vs. '; please don't start a flamewar over this...

        3) Zope is somewhat more taxing than PHP (but this has gotten quite a bit better since Zope 2.3 came out)

        4) The Python runtime can be a bit of a pain at times (mostly in getting the stupid thing compiled, although most sane people would just install the RPMs from the CD instead of making their own)

        But other than that, I'm quite happy with it--Python is not nearly as big of a pain to work with, in terms of designing things, modifying existing systems and even reading the code (forced indentation is a nice idea, but #2 has bitten me more times than I care to remember).

        Hmm...this thing does automatic number lists??!?!

        [ Reply to this ]
    Re: Why Choose SquishDot?
    by Amr Malik on Monday June 25, 03:15AM, 2001
    Also here is a link I found at the zope site regarding beginner caveats etc.! [LINK]
    [ Reply to this ]
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