[Python-Dev] *Simpler* string substitutions

Alex Martelli aleax@aleax.it
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 15:38:46 +0200

On Friday 21 June 2002 02:59 pm, Guido van Rossum wrote:
> AFAIK Limbo has a very small user base (and its key designer is much
> more arrogant than your average BDFL even :-).  It's much easier to
> withstand the pressure to add features in that case.  And lately, most

This is probably correct (both arrogance and a small user base help:-).
However, see at end as for how a largish user base (of a certain kind)
may actually HELP.

But I'm not particularly concerned with comparisons of Python to Limbo,
but rather with the general issue of how Python can be perceived (quite
apart from any issue of spin or how to present it - by somebody who's
not inclined to listen to spin or presentation but prefers to see things
for himself).

> new features have been better ways to do things you could already do,
> but only clumsily.  

Yes, to some extent that's inevitable.  Once a language is (net of
finite-storage issues) Turing-complete, in a very real sense EVERYTHING 
is one of those "things you could already do".

> That would add to his impressions.  Plus,
> inevitably, that not everybody at Strakt uses the same coding style.

We try hard to avoid such "code ownership" issues, with pair programming,
frequent refactoring, strong consensus-based coding-style guidelines, and so 
on.  But of course we can't get them down to 0.

> I understand the sentiment, but users are like this: they all want you
> to stop adding features except the one thing they absolutely need.
> (Myhrvold)

Actually, I believe a lot of users don't particularly mind there being lots 
of redundant features around, but presumably THAT sort tends to be 
selected-against wrt Python-Dev (and Strakt employment), while (e.g.) Perl 
(or MS employment) might draw them more.  Still, as long as you keep in your 
field of vision the reality that (excluding the selected-against crowd) every 
new feature you DO add is perceived as a negative by MOST users, I trust 
you'll keep being extremely selective in deciding what IS truly "absolutely" 

This is the point I mentioned at the start about effects of user base.  Given
that the user base is largish AND biased AGAINST featuritis, it should HELP
you "withstand the pressure to add features"... if you WANT to withstand it.
I.e., you'll mostly get strong support for any stance of "let's NOT add 
this".  You may dislike that when you WANT to add a feature, but surely
not when it's about "withstanding the pressure".