Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Extending SchoolTool With Grok

A big part of my vision for SchoolTool is to create an 100% open source platform to help schools create their own administrative tools, for tracking things like IEP's, disciplinary reports, or alternative assessments. Over the past 20 years schools have done this with Access, Filemaker, FoxPro, and other commercial systems. Now, a few are using web frameworks like Ruby on Rails or open CMS's like Drupal and Moodle for some of these tasks.

As SchoolTool approaches our beta and 1.0 releases, our longer term story for extending SchoolTool is looking brighter, thanks in part to developments with Grok. SchoolTool is built using the Zope 3 framework, which, unfortunately, has had a higher barrier for entry -- that is it is more difficult to learn to program with -- than the newer generation of frameworks like Rails or Django. Grok is a new layer that works on top of the Zope 3 libraries, but incorporates the conventions that make the new frameworks so accessible. And happily for SchoolTool, Grok is taking care to make its components accessible to other Zope 3 programs.

The upshot of this is that, well, a year from now at most, we should have some very nice documentation on how to save time and money by using SchoolTool and Grok to create simple applications for your school. Not to mention that in the long run it will probably make our core developers more efficient.

Kudos to the Grok Project!

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