This article originally appeared at:
Linux Journal

Zope-on-a-Rope

by David Penn <david@ssc.com>
3-Dec-1999

Digital Creations announces increased operability between its open source application server and Microsoft's open standards platforms.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Together.

Zope, one of the leading open-source application servers for content management and portals, will soon support two network protocols heavily supported by Microsoft, the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and the Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol. Digital Creations, developers of Zope and leaders in open-source web development, have announced that this enhanced support will be available in the upcoming version of Zope, due out in early 2000.

Said Paul Everitt, CEO of Digital Creations, "Our customers and community gain tremendously when Zope and Microsoft applications communicate in a rich way. We are pleased to aggressively support these open standards that Microsoft has taken the lead on."

Application service is one of the most vital areas in the Internet industry--and one of the areas in which many software vendors are looking toward in hopes of finding new, more efficient and profitable avenues to provide services to customers. E-commerce in particular is one of the industries most interested in the new technology.

Said John Montgomery, product manager in Microsoft's Developer Division, "To build integrated e-commerce applications you must be able to connect different Web services together easily and quickly using Internet standards such as HTTP and XML ... support for SOAP and WebDAV in Zope will help organizations integrate a truly diverse set of applications and services."

What is compelling about Zope's support of SOAP and WebDAV is not just the stimulation it provides to Microsoft's open standard protocols (as opposed to encouraging further development of closed ones), but also the visibility it brings to open-source solutions in the world of application service. Beyond application service, as many who work with Zope are quick to point out, Zope's strength lies in application development, particularly as a tool for web content managers, developers, and information architects to produce and work with dynamic, powerful, highly functional web areas.

Attempts to provide familiar productivity applications such as office suites over the Internet have met with mixed results so far. As Michael Caton noted recently in PC Week, the unreliable nature of Internet connection and availability are only a few of the hurdles application service providers will have to clear before widespread acceptance of the latest new Internet paradigm will be considered practical.

However, web-based application development is another story altogether. As hinted in a recent IT-Director piece, the same factors that make open-source development methods difficult for traditional application development may be especially suited for collaborative open-source application development. These factors, especially the web infrastructure to make things like version control, source warehousing and build/test environments work efficiently, are only now coming fully of age. From the efforts of organizations like Cosource and the to-be-announced "SourceForge" repository to be established by VA Linux Systems (a web-based repository of the "DNA" for more than 220 open-source projects) to Zope's support of valuable open standard protocols (however proprietary the company who develops them may be), this new paradigm in web-based development--spearheaded by the open-source community--can only help the emerging ASP industry to create truly innovative, value-added web applications that will find true adherents in the enterprise and among everyday individual users.

SOAP is a remote procedure call standard based on HTTP and XML, two major standards managed by the World Wide Web Consortium. SOAP allows a program running on one machine to have basic, structured interactions with a program running on another machine. The Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) protocol is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol for team editing on the Web. While Microsoft was the first to market with WebDAV authoring software in Internet Explorer 5 and Office 2000, Zope was the first application server to provide WebDAV support.

Zope, which runs on nearly all UNIX platforms and works well with Linux and Windows NT, can be used with most popular web servers or its own built-in web server. It is an open-source application server especially designed for developing high-performance, dynamic web pages. Zope is available free from their own web site.

Copyright (c) 1999 Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc.