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What is TurboGears?
Python developers who need a powerful framework to expedite Web app development should take a look at TurboGears. This free and open-source framework is a full stack of Web Server Gateway Interface (WSGI) components. TurboGears incorporates several other projects (all of which are also open-source applications).
As technology advances, the projects included in TurboGears stack have changed. As of May 2015, SQLAlchemy, Pylons, Genshi, and Mako are the included projects. SQL Alchemy is a database toolkit with a template engine, caching, and database scalability. Pylons is an architecture built around WSGI that allows developers their choice of components to plug in, such as templating engines. TurboGears provides a middleware stack of best-in-class components from a single command interface, so you don't have to find them yourself. Genshi is one of the two choices for default templating engines. It uses extensible markup language (XML) and will only serve valid XML and extensible hypertext markup language (XHTML). Mako is a text templating engine. It is the other included option for default templating engine in TurboGears.
What is TurboGears used for?
The purpose of a framework stack is to make Web app development faster and less repetitive. For example, you can extend and reuse code you've already written and make use of templates to handle common requirements. Similar full stack frameworks for Python include Django and Web2Py among many others. TurboGears takes the model-view-controller (MVC) approach. WSGI is highly recommended by TurboGears for deploying your apps, as it gives stable support and allows multiple apps hosted on one server and domain. It also allows you to mount your app inside a TurboGears app.
What are some alternatives to TurboGears?
TurboGears, Django, and Web2Py are the three most popular Python development frameworks. We've talked about TurboGears, and we'll briefly touch on the other two so you can decide if you should check them out before sticking with TurboGears.
The Python wiki calls Django the "Web framework for perfectionists (with deadlines)". Django is great for building high-performing and elegant web apps. Django uses the model-view-controller (MVC) approach to programming, and is compatible with all major databases. Unlike some other frameworks, Django is not hard to install and set up.
Web2Py requires no installation or configuration and is the simplest of the frameworks discussed in this article. Web2Py is particularly good at preventing common web security issues.
There are several other Python frameworks you might also be interested in considering. The Python wiki site lists around 30 other options to consider. Some of the standouts include CubicWeb, TACTIC, Zope2, Pylons, and CherryPy.
How do I get started coding with TurboGears?
TurboGears is generally installed on a machine with a Linux operating system. This is because Python applications are deployed to Linux servers, and it makes the most sense to develop applications in the same environment in which they will be deployed. While Linux is the most typical platform, TurboGears can be installed on Windows and OS X operating systems as well. Installation varies depending on the environment in which you are installing TurboGears, and you should head to the TurboGears documentation site for detailed step-by-step instructions on getting TurboGears up-and-running on your system.
In general, preparing for TurboGears installation includes:
- A machine with a supported operating system and adequate performance.
- A complete Python 2.5 or 2.6 installation including headers for building C extensions.
- Creating an isolated environment (
VirtualEnv) for safe deployment of your apps on your machine.
Once you have the necessary environment in place on your machine installing TurboGears is a fairly simple process. TurboGears provides step-by-step installation instructions which can be found at their extensive documentation site. Keep in mind that the instructions assume a certain familiarity with Python already, so if you are new to Python you will want to spend some time learning the basics of Python and getting a Python environment setup on your machine before jumping into installing TurboGears.
Once you have TurboGears set up on your machine you should check out the many tutorials and extensive documentation offered by TurboGears. There are many tutorials available, and they begin with a TurboGears spin the the classic "Hello World" programming introduction called "Hello TurboGears". Here you'll find help with installation and some basic information which lead into a tutorial called "A Wiki in 20 Minutes".
By completing TurboGears' "A Wiki in 20 Minutes" tutorial you'll really get a sense for the power of TurboGears and how quickly an experienced Python developer can create a robust application. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with TurboGears and begin to get a handle for how development in TurboGears works.
Once you've taken those steps you're ready to get started working on your project in TurboGears, and if you need them there are several more advanced tutorials available within the TurboGears documentation site.
TurboGears Hosting Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if TurboGears is the right development environment for me?
All three of the most popular web development environments are really very good. It is not necessarily possible to label one or another as better than the others. So we recommend you research them all, as well as any more niche options that pop up as you do your research, to get a sense for which might work best for you.
Is TurboGears a reliable web framework for beginners?
TurboGears is incredibly powerful, but it is not the most straightforward or easy-to-use framework available. When this question is asked of experienced programmers lightweight frameworks like web.py (not to be confused with Web2Py) and flask are often suggested as good places to get started with a Python framework since they are fairly straightforward and don’t bury the actual code too deep in the framework.
Is the TurboGears community continuing to develop new versions of TurboGear?
If you’re going to invest the time and effort to learn a framework you want to know it’s going to stick around. As of May 2015 TurboGears is currently in version 2.3.5 which was released in April of 2015. Ongoing development of TurboGears appears to be strong, and we expect to see TurboGears remain one of the most important Python frameworks for the foreseeable future.
What are some major sites and apps built using TurboGears?
There’s no way to be certain who has used what framework for Python development unless the website or developer releases that information. So there are undoubtedly many more deployments than those that are public knowledge. Some of the more notable known deployments of apps built in TurboGears include SourceForge, Amnesty International UK’s Irrepressible.info campaign, and the Fedora Community site.
Is TurboGears a good choice for an exceptionally complex project?
Yes. One of the problems development of TurboGears was aimed at addressing was the perceived lack of good framework options for solving complex problems. There were many frameworks that allowed you to rapidly address common problems, but not many that were great at tackling technically challenging projects. So if your project is large and complex, TurboGears may be the ideal framework for tackling it.