Comparison between Python and "Ruby"

Neel Krishnaswami neelk at
Wed Nov 3 04:42:21 CET 1999

Thomas A. Bryan <tbryan at> wrote:
>Yes, there are.  Larry Wall's speeches (Wall is the Guido of Perl)
>often proclaim that the problem with many programming languages 
>is that they enforce too many restrictions on the programmer and 
>his code.  Thus, given a problem, the programmer first has to map 
>that problem onto what is permitted by the language.  The less 
>flexibility the language offers, the more difficult this mapping 
>process can be for more problems.  Perl is supposed to reduce the 
>amount of mapping that a programmer has to do before implementation.

The only languages that have taken this idea seriously is the Lisp
family, which have macro systems that basically allow the programmer 
to extend the language. In short: the Lisps have an extensible syntax,
where Perl just has an extensive syntax. 

Python (and Ruby, for that matter) remind me more of Smalltalk than
anything else -- ie, they have extensive libraries, a community with a
love of elegance but not of purity[*], and a greater focus on practical
applications than on academic research. 

The differences are that there's less of a closed-world attitude in
Python than in the ST world, though -- Python can be used for sysadmin
work where ST (even Squeak) wouldn't be a natural fit. But on the flip
side Smalltalk has always had a stronger focus on UI and dev
environments.  This is changing, though -- the ST culture is beginning
to value the ability to deal with the world outside the system image,
and Guido's latest enthusiasm is "computer programming for everybody"
(which is a very ST-ish sort of idea).


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