Smalltalk and Python

Erno Kuusela erno-news at
Tue Dec 12 20:21:27 EST 2000

In article <915qlh$89fa$1 at>, "Russell E. Owen"
<owen at> writes:

| I think of Python as a very advanced scripting language.

why a "scripting languagage"?

| Much cleaner and more regular than Perl, not as powerful as Smalltalk. It
| is a great language and should appeal to many Smalltalkers for
| smaller tasks.

i have only had a peek at smalltalk, namely Squeak. it seemed very

the thing that struck me as a little foreign was the apparent
isolation of the smalltalk image from the rest of the operating system
and the filesystem. i want to be able to grep code!

but i guess this is just an artifact of that particular
implementation. (it was the only free one that i came across however)

| On the other hand, it is not as powerful, clean and regular as 
| smalltalk. Limitations include:
| - The language is somewhat cluttered and irregular because it has 
| procedures, functions and methods. Hence arbitrary decisions had to be 
| made in some areas as to how to implement things, which can lead to some 
| hunting through the manuals.

hmm? there are only functions and methods, if you want to make the
distinction. the only difference is that if you put a function
definition inside a class definition, it will get passed the class
instance as first argument.

| - garbage collection is reference counted, though now enhanced in Python 
| 2.0 so it can handle most cases of circular references

i don't think there are any situations in which the 2.0 system
would not handle them.

in fact the refcounting + "real" gc combination is much nicer than
pure gc, because of the predictable finalisation behaviour.

| - Mediocre GUI support (a mediocre interface to Tk and a different 
| interface to wxWindows that isn't available on my platform--Mac)

(i prefer python-gtk/python-gnome)

| - Mediocre IDE. I hope this will be improved over time, along with the 
| GUI support.


| - Code indentation is significant. This tends to annoy folks at first, 
| but almost everybody comes to find it reasonable or good after a short 
| time. It shocked me at first, but I like it just fine.

look at it this way: you indent your code anyway. this way
you don't need to communicate the information about block
structure twice to the computer. 

| It's an absolutely stunning language for free, and although not as fast 
| as Perl

(it's as fast in my experience)

| still quite reasonable for basic work. Every Smalltalker who 
| needs a smaller-scale language for small projects should look at it, but 
| don't expect it to be a substitute for Smalltalk.

  -- erno

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