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On October 27th, I posted a message to the Zope list in response to a note from Patrick Phalen describing the need for a vastly improved "front door" to Zope.

This document compiles the good info from the responses and sets a direction to solve the problem.

Thanks go to Patrick Phalen, Ben Leslie, Dom Mitchell, Oleg Broytmann, Ethan "mindlace" Fremen, Rik Hoekstra, Thomas Passin, Max M Rasmussen, Pavlos Christoforou, Tom Deprez, Kevin Dangoor, Jens Vagelpohl, Jason Cunliffe, Dylan Jay, Karl Fast, Ross Lazarus, Anthony Baxter, Clarence Pate, .


In short, people should be able to go to the Zope site and quickly answer the question, "What is Zope?"


The Zope Front Door should answer the following questions:

  • What is Zope?
  • What can I do with Zope?
  • How can Zope improve your business?
  • Who is using Zope?
  • What is the status of Zope?
  • Where do I get what I need?
  • What are the features, solutions, and values for Zope?
  • Why is Zope a better choice?
  • Who is it for?
  • What are the major news items for Zope?


The home page should change into the Zope Front Door, as described herein.

Home Page

The home page will change from a weblog layout (aimed at members) to a traditional layout that: defines Zope, sets brand, and draws attention to the community. It will contain the elements as described below.

as is.
A graphic that quickly defines Zope.
A set of controls to operate the site. These include Home (, Home (My, Download, Search, Printable Page, Source, Site Map, Community, Manage (this page), and a search box with Go! and Help. Obviously this is a long list.
Quick description of the mission of the site. Include link to "More". Describe hardware, software, connectivity, people, etc. Provide attribution to Python, Apache, RedHat, etc.
If the current folder has a submenu, display it.
Show current downloads, pageviews, mailing list subscribers, active members, and mailing list messages. Include a link to "More". Show usage over time and less important stats.
Leading News
A digested version of prominent news with links to news items. Include a link to "More". Provide a browse-by-batch navigation of all Leading News.
Show Powered By Zope! and a DC logo.
What Is Zope
Most prominent area on page. Answers "What". Gives two sentence elevator speech. Provide buttons for "Download", "Guided Tour", "Fact Sheet", and "FAQ". Include link to "More".
Answers "Why". Big name quotes from Jon Udell, Dan Schafer, Bruce Perens, Dave Winer, Tim O'Reilly, Frank Willison, Guido van Rossum, etc. Include testimonials, case studies, Zope-powered sites, and highlight the community. Include link to "More".
Getting Started
Answers "How". Include link to "More". Guided tours, mailing list info, documentation, How-Tos, Zope articles on the web, support and bug reporting.
More terse version of current Spotlight. Include link to "More".
Community News
More terse version of current home page weblog. Chop off at 100 words. Include icon for "New". Include control for RSS version. Include link to "More".


Patrick started the tone nicely by saying that we need to "take a fresh look at the front door on the Zope web site and suggest improvements to make sure that new prospective users can get an immediate grasp of Zope's unique "selling" propositions." This is a very accurate and concise statement of the problem.

I then replied by asking:

  • What questions should the home page, and pages one click away, answer?
  • What are some effective ways to answer those questions?

The responses were quite instructive:

  • Improve the default install.
  • Looking at examples is the easiest and most natural way to learn.
  • Create a demo site.
  • Have a "what can I do with Zope?" section.
  • Answer "What is Zope?"
  • How Zope can improve your business?
  • Zope can improve your business by allowing you to develop your Web applications easily, with the right tool.
  • Zope is free, thus making your applications cheaper.
  • Zope is Open Source, allowing your developers to understand every aspect of its internals.
  • Zope conforms to standards. Zope talks HTTP/FTP/WebDAV/FastCGI/etc protocols.
  • Explain why an open source platform might better suite your needs.
  • What major players are already using Zope?
  • Zope news. Not developers news, but news in general: new zope-powered sites, articles about Zope in Big Magazines, etc. Short. Also additional page(s) with more details, and past news.
  • Zope status: How to download, how and what to buy, quality of documentation, commercial products and support.
  • Zope status: Latest and stable version, precompiled binaries for as many platforms as possible.
  • Developer resources: entry-level documentation ("I just downloaded precompiled tarball; what next?"), deep documentation, HOWTOs, list of available components.
  • Update/re-orient "Zope Features".
  • Link to Brian Lloyd's DevShed article. On the first page is a list of _things_zope_can_do. This was enough to sell me on the whole notion.
  • What I really want when I'm making decisions is things I can do with zope. What sold me on PHP in the first place was the webmonkey tutorials, which talked about the neat things- dynamic image generation and threaded discussion were important in my book.
  • What can I do with Zope?

    Present a quick tour, preferably in a slick slideshow. This should show of some of the what can I do with it stuff, but present it from the more technical features point of view that make Zope outstanding. The point with the technical features is that they are just busswords until you show what they mean.

  • Make it attractive and easy for people to get started:
    • Put downloading prominently on the opening page.
    • Prepare a beginners download. This should include documentation, preferably a grounds up tutorial. Ideally this beginners download should come with an example database with a builtin interactive tutorial. The tutorial should be in Zope, and the described examples shoould be observable right away. This would be a Quickstart on steroids (an example is Macro Media Authorware that has a help system with examples and the examples can be adapted and included right away in your own product)
  • When I went to the Zope site, I had almost no idea what Zope was good for.
  • A product can be described via 3 parameters: Features, Solutions and Values.

    1) Features. What can the product actually do. What is its technical limits. Its possibilities. Pure concrete data about the product. Technical measurements are in order here.

    Possible answers...

    Zope is an advanced webserver. It can build very advanced websites. You don't start from scratch everytime you build a new website. You can reuse code much more easily than with other webservers.

    Zope is open source.

    Zope is easily extendible through Python.

    You can easily use legacy databases.

    Zope is fast (fast enough?).

    Zope is based on Python which is fast and easy. It's much more productive than (any language here). It is based on the Medusa webserver which is also very fast.

2) Solutions. What is it a solution to. Which problems does it solve for the customers.

Possible answers...

With Zope you can deliver on time and on budget easier than with other products because...

For Technicians: With Zope each person can concentrate on what they do best. Programmers program. Designers do design.

3) Values. This is what makes a brand. The core values of the product. Its ethics. Its etheric values. Those values which cannot be easily quantified. (For example Volvo doesn't sell cars with airbags or seat belts or whatever. They sell the worlds safest cars! If you try to sell a car with an airbag you are only ahead in the game as long as no other car has airbags. If you sell the world's safest cars you will always be ahead, and the customers will get that impression of the brand.)

It will never be obsolete, because it's open source.

It's better to share the drudge of making the framework for a very configurable webplatform/application server with other companies around the world because you share the work but get all of the benefits. Then you can focus on added value.

  • Setup
  • Review/Link to ZBook material.
  • Break site into (the current site) and (as the front door).
  • Feature sites that are using Zope (well-known or not).
  • Provide a prominent link on the home page to "What is Zope?" that provides a summary.
  • Zope is better because:

    Maintainability through Zope's unique object database that enables a natural separation of data, business logic and presentation, allowing flexible 3-tier architectures.

    Support for code reuse and 3rd party plug-in functionality.

    Robust and high performance integrated SQL database support that makes creating dynamic data-driven applications simple.

    Web based collaborative authoring.

    No downtime when making large changes through use of versioning.

    The advantages of using an open source and cross-platform technology.

    Data intergrity through integrated transactions.

  • Make the Zope site faster.
  • How do you pronounce Zope?
  • Compare Zope to other systems.
  • Detail where Zope is great, good, and poor.
  • Give different "views" for different market segments.
  • Quickly answer common questions and address misperceptions.