[Python-Dev] Bare except clauses in PEP 348

Tim Lesher tlesher at gmail.com
Thu Aug 25 17:16:10 CEST 2005

On 8/25/05, Sjoerd Mullender <sjoerd at acm.org> wrote:
> There is an important point, though.  Recently I read complaints about
> the lack of backward compatibility in Python on the fedora-list (mailing
> list for users of Fedora Core).  Somebody asked what language he should
> learn and people answered, don't learn Python because it changes too
> often in backward incompatible ways.  They even suggested using that
> other P language because that was much more backward compatible.

I think you're overstating what actually happened there.  Here's the
actual quote from the thread:

: perl is more portable than python - programs written for perl are far
: more likely to run on a new version of perl than the equivalent for
: python. However, python is probably more readable and writable than perl
: for a new user, and is the language most Fedora system utilities (e.g.
: yum) are written in. Both perl and python run on Windows too.
: You have to be very careful about how you write your code to make it
: portable to both environments. If you need a GUI, you'll need a
: cross-platform GUI toolkit like Qt too.
: If it's only one language to learn, and you're a Fedora user, I'd go for
: python.

Yes, later there were additional posts about portability and
backwards-compatibility, but they were for the most part factually
incorrect (reliance on new 2.x features, not
backwards-incompatibility, were the issue with CML1) and relied to "I
heard that..." information

So your point is well-taken, but the problem is one of user
perception.  That's not a dismissal of the problem--witness the
"JAVA/LISP/Python is too slow" and "all PERL code is cryptic" memes.

To me, this perception problem alone raises the bar on backwards
compatibility. Even if obsoleted features are seldom useed, "$language
breaks old code!" is a virulent meme, in both senses of the word.
Tim Lesher <tlesher at gmail.com>

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