Beginning programming with Python

Martijn Faassen m.faassen at
Mon Nov 15 10:38:36 EST 1999

"Aaron Ginn (rp2885)" <rp2885 at> wrote:
> An honest opinion, please; is Python better suited for beginners than Perl, as
> I've heard?

You're asking in the Python newsgroup, so here's my honest opinion:


I was an experienced programmer (C, C++, Pascal, and some glancing 
familiarity with a host of other languages) when I learned Python.
Before I looked at Python, I struggled a few weeks trying to teach
myself Perl. Then I downloaded the Python tutorial, read it in about an
hour, and I never looked back. I could program in Python from then on. Python
was much much easier for me to learn. I could reason about the right
syntax for things, while with Perl I was constantly checking the documentation.

This was of course the example of an experienced programmer, but I think
it'll be true for beginners too. The multiplicity of syntax of Perl to
do the same thing, and the odd syntax to do certain things will confuse
beginners, and will also teach the wrong idea to beginners; programming
is not about syntax gimmicks. With perl you could be tempted to learn
lots of snippets and tricks to solve a problem and how to assemble
these to a working program. Lots of copy&paste programming, and lots of
'how do I do this in Perl' questions. With Python you can focus more on
the underlying structure, the semantics, of the program.

Then again, this is a biased opinion. There are arguments why Perl would
suit the human mind better *because* it is so syntactically variable and
complicated. I don't believe in these arguments myself.

Python has a clean and powerful syntax. Perl has just a powerful syntax.


History of the 20th Century: WW1, WW2, WW3?
No, WWW -- Could we be going in the right direction?

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