I am going to investigate web development with Scala, and the choice is between learning Lift or Play: probably I will not have enough time to try both, at least at first. Now, many comparisons between the two are available on the internet, but I would like to know how do they compare with respect to being explicit and involving less magic.
Let me explain what I mean by example. I have used, to various degrees, CakePHP, symfony2, Django and Grails. I feel a very clear distinction between Django and symfony2, which are very explicit about what you are doing, and Grails and CakePHP, which try to do their best to guess what you are trying to achieve and often feel "magical".
Let me give some examples comparing Django and Grails.
- In Django, views are functions that take a request as input and return a response. You can instantiate explicitly an instance of
HttpResponseand populate its body with a string, or you can use shortcut functions to leverage the template system. In any case the return value from your view always has the same type. In contrast, the
rendermethod from Grails is highly polymorphic. You can throw a context at it and it will try to render a template which is found by convention using that context. Or you can pass it a pair of a template path and a context and that will work too. Or a string. Or XML. Grails tries hard to make sense of whatever you return from your controller.
- In the Django ORM, each model class has a static attribute representing the manager for that class. That manager exposes a fluent interface to build querysets. In Grails, you can have a similar functionality by composing detached criteria. Still, the most common way to query objects seems to be the use of runtime-generated methods like
I will not go further, but my point is that in Django-like frameworks you have control over the whole flow of the request/response process, while in Grails-like ones I feel I only have to feel the blanks and the framework will manage the rest of the flow for me. This is not to criticize Grails or CakePHP; which type you prefer is mainly a matter of preference. In fact, I happen to like some aspects of Grails, but I feel more comfortable with a framework which does less for me.
Back to the point of the question: which one among Play and Lift is more explicit about what you do and which one tries to simplify more what you have to do with a layer of "magic"?