So last night was the Web Frameworks NIght. A great time had by all. Many thanks to the organisers.
As always the Perl community shot itself in the foot a bit. I know that Catalyst is a great framework and I know that Matt Trout knows a lot about Catalyst. Unfortunately he doesn’t know enough about how to sell Catalyst in a presentation. As a result his talk had a lot of slides full of code which would have been almost inpenetrable to anyone who didn’t already know Perl. He also failed to give any demos of Catalyst in action. But I thought his biggest mistake was to overlook the one area where Catalyst scores heavily over the other frameworks – the ORM tools that Catalyst are much more powerful than the ones used by the other frameworks. For example, with Class::DBI::Loader you can automatically pull the relationships between your tables out of the database.
Django looked interesting. In particular the default admin screens that it creates had everyone in the audience going “oooh”. Django templates use a language that looks a lot like the Template Toolkit, but apparently they are based on the PHP templating system Smarty – so it must have been them that borrrowed the ideas from TT.
Then there was Rails. I don’t really think anyone in the audience was there to find out about Rails. It’s been getting quite enough publicity recently so I think every has at least a basic knowledge of how it worked. I think most people were there for a first look at the BBC programme catalogue that Matt Biddulph is building. And it didn’t disappoint. It looked lovely. I foresee a few wasted days when that is released next year. Oh, and it was nice to hear that some Rails programmers are moving away from the idea of using embedded Ruby as their templating language. A new templating language called Liquid has just been released. This is based on the Django templating language (which is based on Smarty, which is based on TT).
So, to summarise.
- All MVC web frameworks look very similar
- Catalyst has the best ORM capabilities
- Django has the best default admin templates
- Rails has the mindshare
- They are all starting to use templates that look like the Template Toolkit
Update: blech points out that I missed out Catalyst’s big advantage. By building on Perl’s existing DBI framework, it already comes with connectivity to far more database systems than any of the other frameworks.
Update: Here are links to all the presentation slides: