Whitespace as syntax (was Re: Python Rocks!)

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Tue Feb 8 11:51:10 EST 2000

fcahoon at my-deja.com wrote:
> ...
> The popularity of a language cannot be taken as prima facie evidence of
> its technical superiority.  Consider Perl.  

Perl may or may not be technical superior, but its popularity is
absolutely not a coincidence. Larry Wall guided a huge segment of the
programming population from bit twiddling and string twiddling languages
to high level languages (and even a modicum of object orientation)
through careful integration of his language with their existing
environment. Perl is popular because it was designed to be popular.

> The number of modules
> available for Perl on CPAN is positively mind-boggling.  Does this mean
> that Perl must necessarily be a superior language?

Perl is superior at achieving popularity among late 1980s Unix
programmers, than anything else that was available. That is not
butterfly wings but rather careful design. I may not like the results of
the design but I cannot deny that the consequences follow from it.

> This leads
> one to wonder: how large is the population who have used python
> seriously, but found indentation-as-syntax to be too large of a problem,
> and now use different languages?  Surely, they are not here to be
> counted.

They are nowhere to be counted. I have not met such a person in all of
my years of proletizing Python at e.g. XML conferences. I have met
dozens of people who said that they thought whitespace was going to be a
problem but then found it wasn't.

I'm not going to claim that no such person exists but I am confident
that they are few and far between. Did you meet anyone in that category
at LinuxWorld?

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
"If I say something, yet it does not fill you with the immediate
burning desire to voluntarily show it to everyone you know, well then,
it's probably not all that important."
    - http://www.bespoke.org/viridian/

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