Whitespace as syntax (was Re: Python Rocks!)

Patrick Phalen python-list at teleo.net
Tue Feb 8 01:42:15 CET 2000

[fcahoon at my-deja.com, on Mon, 07 Feb 2000]

        If python code were to become mis-formatted (and given my experience, I
        have to believe that sooner or later this _will_ happen) there is _no
        way_ to be certain what the original author's intent was, much less to
        fix it automatically.  This is a Bad Thing(tm).

This could be a Bad Thing, if the coders involved failed to follow the
very practices which Python's design encourages: write small,
manageable, modules. I fail to see how any project written in a sane,
modular way could be made inscrutable by the sort of inadvertence to
which you refer.

        I had been taking the "ignore it and it will go away" approach to
        Python, because I figure it is no business of mine.  There is no reason
        why I can't simply use another language.  However, I was at LinuxWorld
        last week, and I think that in over half the sessions I attended the
        presenter said at some point "this part was implemented in Python".  (By
        contrast, there was only one mention of Perl, and it was dismissive --
        "there is an API for perl, but I don't know why anyone would want to use

Yes. Isn't it wonderful? :>)
        Some of you may argue that, if Python is not a good language, how did it
        become so popular?  Once a scripting language like Perl or Python
        acquires a "critical mass" of followers, it will experience exponential
        growth, because the availability of modules affects the usability of the
        language in real-world applications and the usability (or rather, use)
        of the language leads to the creation of more modules, in a
        positive-feedback loop.  Python does address some of the shortcomings of
        Perl -- notably, it is far more maintainable in a multi-developer
        envirionment -- despite the flawed decision to use whitespace as syntax.
        This fact, and a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon jungle, has
        led Python to achieve "critical mass".

This is specious and ill-informed. You do have a bit of a nerve coming
on this newsgroup and suggesting that the thousands of serious
programmers (many of them former Perl hackers) who use Python daily do
so for the sole reason of a slight edge in maintainability. Or that
Python's popularity is the result of some unexplainable initial

<snip tiresome rehash of worn out arguments>
        While I'm sure this will strike many of you as a bunch of gratuitous
        flamage, I really am only trying to promote reasoned discussion, honest.
        I hope no one gets really _personally_ upset!
I'm certainly not upset. I believe you post is sincere and not meant to
be flamebait (albeit inflammatory).

Thousands of programmers who use Python daily can attest that your
fears are unfounded. At the risk of inflaming you, I'd venture to say
your fears are silly, but I'd rather encourage you to face up to those
fears and actually try writing a few lines of Python, and running them,
to see how if feels

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