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* An implementation of a simple portal program, which uses I Want Options both to provide an interface to user preference and an interface to site options. * An implementation of a simple portal program, which uses I Want Options both to provide an interface to user preferences and an interface to site options.

A Very Special Request

I'd love not to have to bring my laptop to DC. If you've got a Linux laptop you're willing to lend me for the presentation, please get in touch with me (leonardr at segfault dot org).

About Me

Hello! I'm Leonard. This is my first conference talk. I'll keep this page updated with information as I scramble to get the talk and the corresponding software written in time. :)

If you're interested in me personally, you can visit [http://www.crummy.com/ my homepage].

The code in this talk is almost all code I wrote for [http://newsbruiser.tigris.org/ NewsBruiser], a weblogging application which you might be interested in independently of the subject of this talk.

Talk Synopsis

Oftentimes, a very small or very new web application will keep all of its configuration settings inside the code itself (hopefully as variable settings in some obvious place). To change the configuration, a user must become a developer of the application. For example:

    #Whether or not to enable image uploads

    #The maximum size of an uploaded image, in kilobytes

A larger, more flexible, or more mature application may keep its configuration settings in a text file loaded by the application at runtime. When configuring such an application a user is changing data, rather than code, and acting as an administrator rather than a developer. Python's ConfigParser module provides built-in support for this level of flexibility, for example:

    enable-image-upload=1 #Whether or not to enable image uploads
    maximum-image-size=100 #Maximum size of an uploaded image, in kb

The natural next step towards better usability is to provide an interface to the configuration file from within the application itself, using the same framework and UI standards found in the rest of the application. This allows a user to configure the application while remaining just that--a user:

    Enable image uploads? [X]

    Maximum image size? 100___ kb

The easiest and best way to take this next step is to use a configuration framework.

The purpose of my talk is to get more of the world's configuration data out of configuration files and into configuration frameworks with Web interfaces. Configuration frameworks are easier to use, can enforce configuration semantics, and don't require shell access to the hosting machine. The framework I'll describe is also useful for doing a user preferences engine.

My talk is currently [http://www.python.org/pycon/pycon-schedule.html scheduled] for 11:30-12:00 on Thursday, March 27, in the Elliot room, wherever that is. I assume there will be signs.

Included Code

* A full-featured configuration interface library called I Want Options (as used in NewsBruiser; you can [http://newsbruiser.tigris.org/source/browse/newsbruiser/nb/lib/IWantOptions.py view it in CVS])

* Three implementations of a silly text generation program, illustrating the "three ages of App" mentioned above.

  • An implementation which uses inline variable settings for its configuration
  • An implementation which reads its configuration from a file
  • An implementation which reads its configuration from a file, and provides a web interface to that same file through I Want Options.

* An implementation of a simple portal program, which uses I Want Options both to provide an interface to user preferences and an interface to site options.

To do

* Write the slides!

* Clean up example apps #2 and #3

Work Log

03/06: Wrote the user preferences app; it's a tiny portal application. Still needs some work.

02/27: Just wrote the same app three times. The last time was the most interesting, as I'd never before implemented a context or a configuration CGI within the framework of I Want Options. When I originally wrote what is now IWO, it was a big blob of NewsBruiser-specific code; the framework per se is less than a week old. I've now got ideas about more things I can move into IWO (an example context implementation, and some more configuration CGI logic). The other two implementations also gave me some ideas; if I changed it so that the user pass the context into the OptionConfig constructor, instead of passing it in to all the methods (which seems reasonable), I could turn getOptionValue into a getitem implementation, which would be cool.

02/21: Got all the NewsBruiser-specific code out of Options.py. To celebrate, moved it out of NewsBruiser proper and into the lib/ directory. It's now a reusable library called [http://newsbruiser.tigris.org/source/browse/newsbruiser/nb/lib/IWantOptions.py I Want Options].

To get all the code moved out I had to define a plugin class (it's currently called 'wrapper', but that doesn't make much sense) which contains application-specific code and is passed into the OptionGroup and Option constructors. It basically simulates a superclass of all the Option classes, so that you can change the generic Option behavior without having to change all the Option classes to subclass a different class. There might be a design pattern that describes this which would make renaming it easy. Or it might just be an OO hack, in which case I'll probably call it "Implementation" or "ImplementationDetails".

02/19: Yesterday I worked on cleaning up Options.py: moving out NewsBruiserisms, adding comments and PyDoc. I tell myself that this is useful work for the talk and not just a heavily disguised method of procrastination. Today: more of the same. Also set up this wiki page.


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