Why do we call python a scripting language?

guy_oliver at yahoo.com guy_oliver at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 29 17:17:53 CEST 1999

On Sun, 29 Aug 1999 04:00:14 -0400 (EDT), Stephen
<stephen at webadmins.com> wrote:

><snipped for brevity>
>'not a real language capable of real programs.'??
> Are you on crack? Or do you have a different definition of the 
> word 'real'? Perl and python or both 'real' languages. I can
> write just about anything from sockets to log parsing in 
> them with the greatest of ease.

 You missed the point.  I said 'others' keep suggesting to me that
python is not appropriate for some job or the other since they hear
its a scripting language and equate scripting with simple programs.
Its mostly because their experience with scripts is limited to simple
things.  I recognize that most scripting languages can do a lot of
work.  I write just about everything in python, as I said in the post.

 The point of the discussion is that I find most people equating
script with simple and hence by linking python with scripting
languages we may be doing python a bad turn.  it makes each 'sale' of
python harder since we have to fight against the mindset that feels
that since python is a scripting language, it cant do anything but toy

 Try to remember that the whole world is not populated with sysadmins.
Most of the world doesnt know what scripts can do, but they read about
Jscript and VBscript and see these as toy languages.  Or they are
introduced to perl or ksh from their admin friends and see someone
parsing a text file and figure thats all the language is good at.

 To a lot of language bigots out there, if it isnt compiled, or either
C or Fortran, it isnt appropriate.  Its caused by the era in which
they 'grew up' with computers I guess.  I fight daily with an older
engineer that refues to use anything but Fortran, even when it is
clearly not best suited for the problem.  I have nothing agains
Fortran, but in some cases, it doesnt make sense to use it.  

 Convincing them to use C/C++ is a lot easier than using Python
because C is at least similar to Fortran, and they seem to be more
comfortable with it.  Similar but not quite as extreme situations
arise all the time.  When I suggest rewriting an old Fortran or Cobol
or even C program in Python/C (sometimes C/C++ extensions are needed
to make things work) I get told that the risk is to high, but when I
suggest that it be re-done in just C or C++, no one says anything.  

By linking Python with scripting, (something I dont do, but they find
references suggesting this) they assume its a toy language that cant
do anything and in most cases wont even explore what it can do.  They
stop before they even get started.  and so when I suggest that we
could do something faster, easier, etc in python, they generally just
dismiss the idea until I have the chance to prove it to them.

Thats the point I was trying to make.  Not that python isnt a real
language.  I use it for everything except things where extremely high
performance is required (like drivers, embeded stuff on slow chips, or
very long scientific/mathematical simulations and calculations --  on
a 2 week simulation run, shaving 15% of the runtime of the app is very
meaningful, and the slow performance of parts of python are worth
avoiding).  In many cases, though, I wrap the C parts that do the high
performance work in to a pyhton module so I can still work on the
problem in python, but still get the performance of
C/C++/Fortran/WhatEver.  But with the title scripting language being
attached to python here and there, some people wont ever explore it
far enough to know that you can do this kind of high performance work
with it.  


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