[aida] Web framework or Web Application Server?

Jimmie Houchin j.squeak at cyberhaus.us
Mon Aug 18 18:17:25 CEST 2008

Janko Mivšek wrote:
> Dear all,
> Well, time to decide what to use for Aida. Should it be Web framework or 
> Web application server? And we need to decide quickly, logo is on the 
> work, Wikipedia entry also...

Regardless of the decision. I believe that whatever we decide should be 
well defined on the website as there are many differing views on the 
definitions of these phrases.

Personally, I like Web Application Server.

> Nico's stance:
> I think that we should be clear about that : Aida is a web framework,
> Swazoo is a web server. Aida is clearly not a web server, and I think
> that the sentence "Smalltalk web application server" is very confusing
> for newcommers (It was the case for me when I discovered Aida...) : What
> is Aida and what is Swazoo?

I can understand Nico's position here. This is why I believe that on any 
material which describes AIDAweb it should be defined as to the meaning 
of the term.

There is much differing and ambiguity in the world of web development.

For example what does "Full Stack" mean? Rails and others use such an 
expression to describe their framework. But the combination of 
deployable options in such "Full Stack" frameworks is dizzying. Web 
server..., Database..., Templating language..., etc.  So much for "Full 
Stack" and having quality decisions already made. :)

Nevertheless, I believe a good definition attached to Web Application 
Server may take care of Nico's situation and where he and others come from.

> My stance:
> Swazoo is web server while Aida is web framework. But
> because Aida comes always with Swazoo, I think we shall name Aida as Web
> application server, which is web framework + web server.

Point. Can AIDA serve a web app or Smalltalk objects without Swazoo?
To my understanding no.
So while AIDA is not a web server. It does require a single specific web 
server as a part of its framework architecture. It isn't optional. We 
can't swap Apache, nginx, lighttpd, or any other web server for Swazoo. 
We can put any of them in front of AIDAweb/Swazoo but we can't replace 
Swazoo with any of them.

To me this is a big distinguishing difference between AIDAweb and RoR or 
any other "Full Stack" framework.

I am not certain how RoR works and whether or not if you use Apache you 
still have to use its internal web server or not.

> But on the other side, RoR and Seaside are declared only as web
> frameworks and as we like to be on pair, we also use only "Web
> framework" for Aida when appropriate.

Seaside can claim to be a framework if they wish. But it is just as 
dependent on Komanche's as AIDA is on Swazoo.

AIDAweb and Seaside are much more like Zope than Ruby on Rails or other 
such frameworks.

 From the Zope site at:  http://www.zope.org
Zope is an open source application server ...

From:  http://www.zope.org/WhatIsZope
What is Zope?
Zope is an open source web application server ...

More detailed descriptions available at the above pages.

You can put Apache, etc. in front of Zope, but you don't have to.
You can use an external database, but you don't have to.

Read the above 2 pages on Zope and see what you would like to use for 
descriptions or marketing.

But of course nothing, absolutely nothing is as well integrated, tightly 
coupled, out of the box available as AIDAweb or Seaside. :)

Zope is a close as I think we get to a Smalltalk like system, out in the 
file based world programming languages. And as such its advocates and 
opponents have the same likes and dislikes as are used for and against 

> Also if you see title of our website on Google, you'll see a long
> "AIDA/Web Smalltalk Web Framework and Application Server". That's
> because people search sometimes as web framework, sometimes as web
> application, sometimes as web application server etc.

In the end, to me, AIDAweb is for building and serving web applications. 
Yes, it does contain a framework, but it is far more tightly coupled to 
its components and parts than most.

Is a framework?
Has a framework?

Is an application server?
Has an application server?

Nothing will be perfect.

But I vote for Web Application Server and a quality definition as to 
what that means for AIDAweb.

Don't know if this helps. But hope so.


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