Posts filed under ‘turbogears’

How to Beat Rails

(Note: I really, really like Ruby and Rails. Anything disparaging that I say about either of them should be taken with several grains of salt. If I seem to be encouraging Pythoneers to crush Rails, it’s simply because I love both, and want all frameworks to be constantly innovating.)

Everybody with the slightest interest in web development has heard of Ruby on Rails. It thrust Ruby into the spotlight, created a hype machine that stubbornly refuses to go away, and made David Heinemeier Hansson a celebrity. I adore Rails – it’s by far the best web framework for simple CRUD apps. However, as a Python devotee, it hurt me deeply to see Ruby stealing the spotlight. As such, I embarked on a quest to find out why Rails is winning; I looked at Django, Turbogears, Pylons and After months of building the same simple CRUD app, I came to the following conclusion:

Python can beat Rails. It can grind it into a pulp in every way concievable – speed, elegance, coolness, extensiblity, organization, AJAXness, beauty, and flexibility. It can send Rails crying home to David while Guido basks in the Web 2.0 spotlight. But right now, Rails is thoroughly torching all of the Python web frameworks. The following is a list of recommendations that, if applied to a Python framework, could dislodge Rails from the position of King of the Web Frameworks.


December 31, 2006 at 10:17 pm 26 comments

Worse is Better: Python templating systems vs. Rails ERb

(Disclaimer: Python is my favorite programming language; however, I do criticize it in this article. Please redirect flames to /dev/null.)

I’ve been comparing web frameworks lately, developing a relatively simple CRUD database-backed application that can support a few bells and whistles. I’ve checked out Ruby on Rails (who hasn’t?) Django, and Turbogears in my search, and realized something as I was hacking together some templates in Kid:

Python, a far more restrictive and inflexible language – one that would seem, on the surface, to be worse for web application development than Ruby – is better for programmers, designers and security by nature of its inflexibility.

Let me explain what I mean. When designing ‘views’ – the web pages that users will see – that need to be updated with data from a given database, it is natural to break the Model-View-Controller paradigm and embed some controller logic into the application. After all, it’s so much less effort to embed

<% found_books = Book.find_all(“title = ?”, given_title) %>

into your .rhtml files then to go back into the controller file, change the return types, and make sure everything works correctly. However, Python is whitespace-sensitive, and therefore is much more difficult to embed into HTML. As such, you can’t write the mixture of Ruby and HTML that makes Rails so easy to use.

This is a good thing. I am a strong advocate of separating the model, view, and controller; by the very fact that I can’t write a combination of Python and HTML, I am forced to go back into the CherryPy/Django controller codebase and write a properly formed, secure, and elegant SQL query. Normally laxity wouldn’t bother me, but I believe that any large web application will grow into a hideous, Nylartothepic tangle if the MVC rules are not followed to the letter.

I still love Rails, but I love the templating systems in Python even more. Because Python is so restrictive, people had to write templating systems the Right Way – and that’s a good thing for everybody.

December 3, 2006 at 6:42 pm 1 comment

About Me

I'm Patrick Thomson. This was a blog about computer programming and computer science that I wrote in high school and college. I have since disavowed many of the views expressed on this site, but I'm keeping it around out of fondness.

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