Zope Component Architecture
This page describes the Zope Component Architecture, or ZCA for short.
What is it?
The Zope Component Architecture is a Framework that arose out of Zope 3 development, and is now integrated into Zope 2. It is used by various software projects, and doesn't even require Zope to run. You can use it natively with Python. It's part of Zope, but it's not Zope.
Why Should I Use It?
You shouldn't. Well, I mean, don't use it unless you see the value in it, or if you are using a software project that uses it already. Due to the fact that it is a framework, it does impose a paradigm on how you develop Python code and you need to determine if that paradigm works for your particular situation, or if it doesn't.
In one phrase, the paradigm implemented by the ZCA framework is that of a "component architecture", which in itself may not mean anything to you, but it is easy to understand.
If you are reading this, you have probably developed some Python software. Now imagine if you had to lead a team that is developing a complex Python software application. This type of project presents new challenges that you may not experience as an individual developer.
For one, different members of the team have different skill sets. You also want the team to be able to work in parallel rather than have some members of the team sit idle waiting for parts they depend upon to be completed. Ideally, you would want to split the application into logical parts and then clearly define who is doing what part of the software and what each team is delivering. But when the software is complete, it needs to work together as an integrated unit.
Clearly, you will need to think about the software architecture. But it can also be helpful to have a framework your team can use that helps them to split the application into logical parts, develop these parts in parallel, and then allow these various parts to interact once they are done. This is what a component architecture is typically used for. It supports this style of development.
You decide to split your team into smaller groups, and each group will tackle one part of the software. One group's code will need to interact with another group's code, but many parts depend upon other parts that haven't been written yet. To solve this chicken-and-egg problem, the groups need to define interfaces for how others will be able to utilize their code, even before it is written. These interfaces are the interaction points for one group to utilize software that other groups write.
Now we have added an additional layer of complexity to the software development project -- the effort of defining these interfaces. But we expect the investment to reap major rewards in mere days as this model of development will allow each group to actively develop their part of the application without waiting on another group to complete theirs first. While this could be done without ZCA, essentially all of ZCA is designed to help facilitate this style of development.
Now that you understand this, you will have a better appreciation for why ZCA is designed the way it is. It is trying to provide a framework for building larger projects that cannot be handled by a single developer. It does add some complexity to your project. This is intentional. You should only use ZCA if you expect that the additional complexity will be more than offset by improved productivity, maintainability and software quality that can arise from a component-based architecture. So, is it right for you? There is no one answer to this. The right answer will depend on the complexity of the project, your development team, and other factors.
At least now you know what ZCA is designed for, so you will be able to evaluate it fairly :)