When using Lino, you should understand a fundamental design choice of the Lino framework: we believe that database structure, screen layouts and business logic should be written in plain Python, and not in some additional text file format like XML, or using a visual GUI editor.
Yes, this requires you to know Python before you can see a result.
The advantage is better maintainability and reusability. This choice is important when it comes to maintaining complex database applications in a sustainable way.
Rob Galanakis explains a similar opinion in GeoCities and the Qt Designer: "We’ve had WYSIWYG editors for the web for about two decades (or longer?), yet I’ve never run into a professional who works that way. I think WYSIWYG editors are great for people new to GUI programming or a GUI framework, or for mock-ups, but it’s much more effective to do production GUI work through code. Likewise, we’ve had visual programming systems for even longer, but we’ve not seen one that produces a result anyone would consider maintainable."
For example, one of Lino's powerful features are layouts whose
purpose is to describe an input form programmatically in the Python language.
UserDetail classes defined in
Imagine a customer 1 who asks you to write an application 1. Then a second customer asks you to write a similar application, but with a few changes. You create application 2, using application 1 as template. One year later customer 1 asks for an upgrade. And during that year you have been working on application 2. You will have added new features, fixed bugs, written optimizations... some of these changes are interesting for customer 1, and they will be grateful if they get them for free, without having asked for them. (Some other changes not.)
Thinking in Python is optimal when you are working for a software house with more than a few customers using different variants of some application for which you offer long-term maintenance.
Python is a powerful and well-known parser, why should we throw away a subset of its features by introducing yet another textual description language?
Or another example: Lino has no package manager because we have pip and git. We don't need to reinvent them.
Why do other frameworks reinvent these wheels? Because it enables them to have non-programmers do the database design, screen layout and deployment. Which is a pseudo-advantage. Lino exists because we believe that database design, screen layout and deployment should be done to people who think in Python.
This does not exclude usage of templates when meaningful, nor projects like #1053 or features like user-defined views (#848) because end-users of course sometimes want (and should have a possibility) to save a given grid layout.