Last week I looked into Zope for the first time... Zope is yet another one of those technologies I've heard kicked around over the last year or two but never really known anything about.
It looks pretty interesting. It's what you'd call an "Application Server", meaning an environment in which you build object-oriented, web-based services that can include all the usual stuff you'd expect; user authentication, admin pages, database backends, etc.
The difference (as I understand it so far) between Zope and an embedded scripting language like, say , PHP is that Zope already has predefined objects for a lot of the nitty gritty stuff for you're always building from scratch in a language like PHP, making your work a whole lot easier (not to mention neater.) It does include an embedded template language of its own, DTML, but it doesn't look like it's as flexible as PHP.
So I imagine there's a trade-off... with Zope you get a lot of the dirty work taken off your hands, but you lose a degree of immediate flexibility. Zope is extensible (and written) with Python, so it's not like you're restricted to a finite set of functions or anything.
The Python business is interesting, too. I picked up the O'Reilly Learning Python book about a year ago during the laid-off doldrums, but not having a practical application for it I never got much further than trite excercises like converting Fahrenheit to Celsius.
More recently, my foray into PHP-GTK has gotten me mightily interested in GUI programming, but I'm not sure PHP is the best language to pursue it in; there's some tremendous wow factor there, but right now pretty much the only people downloading and installing the bindings are developers who are just hacking around with it.
GUI programming in Python, at least in Linux, is a little better-established, and if I continue to learn the ins and outs of GTK under PHP while I get the basics of Python down, it ought to be a smooth transition to writing GUI apps with Python.
Plus, I'll be in good shape if I can add Zope, Python and PyGTK to my resume. :) Once those new & improved photo pages are done in PHP, I may go back to square one and rebuild this blog system as a Zope application, just to get the hang of it.
At the very least, I've been thinking of starting a new CVS tree and rebuilding the blog system from the ground up in PHP anyway. The current tree is messy, and the current site is an ugly mix of older, klugey scripts and newer, object-oriented ones. There's overlap all over the place, and keeping everything straight has been part of the reason it's taking me so long to get those photo pages going.
Yeah, yeah. Famous last words.