[meta-sig] So What is Python Anyway?

Gordon Worley orla_redbird@crosswinds.net
Sat, 4 Dec 1999 23:33:37 -0500 (EST)

>All these radical suggestions for the transmogrification of Python 2
>leads me to the overwhelming question.  What is Python?  What makes us
>use this language?  What are the particular use-cases that we think
>impede our use of this language?  I think that maybe a comprehensive and
>convincing description of the problem that the types-sig is trying to
>solve is essential before we go down the road of more proposals to
>cripple Python's dynamicism and all that.

Several proposed questions, so I'll take a shot at each of them one at a
time.  Guido may be a better person to ask, but at least I can share my own

>What is Python?

A programming languge.  Duh.  Prehaps a religion (cult?), also, depending
upon how you program and how much you use it.

>What makes us use this language?

This is probably the hardest to explain.  I started using Python because I
was both looking for somthing that wasn't so mainstream (like Pearl),
offered decent Mac support, was very object-oriented (about as much as
Smalltalk, but with a more real world implimentation), had easy syntax
(compared to other languages I was considering trying (like Pearl, Common
Lisp, Smalltalk, Objective-C)) and good documentation (Programming Python
from ora), and was free.  Once I started using Python, it was only then
that I realized the true power that it has and realized that I had made an
excellent choice.  This power (the dynamicism, typlessness, modularity,
etc.) is what has kept me using Python and from using other languages only
when absolutely necessary.

>What are the particular use-cases that we think impede our use of this

Python, I have found, can tackle most problems with ease.  When it comes to
integration with the native system, though, Python falls far short.  On
Unicies there isn't really that much of a problem, but on my Mac and the
Windoze machines I use at school, getting Python to blend in in tough.  In
particular are UI and interapplication communications issues.  I have few
troubles with the language itself, but more with the particularities of the
OS that it is running on.  Each platform is radically better of in it was a
year ago as far as Python integration goes, but there is still a long road
ahead (at least on the Mac).

Basically, creating user friendly environments tends to pose problems, but
otherwise the language is great.

There's probably lots that I haven't touched on here, but hopefully this
will be a starting point for further discussion.

- Gordon Worley