Python advocacy

Cameron Laird claird at
Thu Mar 9 04:59:08 CET 2000

In article <38C57EB8.882AE093 at>,
Paul Prescod  <paul at> wrote:
>Well, Java will never take off with "scripters" so whether it could be
>used for scripting or not is irrelevant because it won't be. It also
Incidental:  I've come across more than a handful
of people who claim Java's so wonderful they use
it for scripting sorts of stuff (keeping in mind,
of course, that "scripting" means almost anything,
that is, nothing).
>You know a lot more about Tcl than I do. I would like to know what you
>would prescribe as a problem that would be better suited to Tcl than to
>Python. I am much more interested in problems that would take over 100
>lines of Python code than in tiny ones, BTW. I am similarly curious
>about non-trivial problems that lend themselves naturally to VB (the
>language, not the development environment) and Perl.
It's mostly social stuff--libraries and so on.

It's also almost a trick question:  what's the
one domain Paul cares about most?  XML.  What's
the one clearest advantage Tcl currently has over
Python, as a language?  That it does full Unicode,
which is necessary for XML.  Conclusion:  Paul,
you're one of the people in the world who should
most prefer Tcl.

That's a transient, of course, and arguably a
superficial one.  My sources say Python 1.6's
Unicode is done well, which'll take care of that

Tcl's a little more introspective than Python.
Its traces are part of that.  I'm accustomed to
thinking that's a benefit, but as a software
engineer I'm swinging around to the belief that
introspection might be an unhygienic habit.
Also, I spent all morning tracking down what I
believe is a wart in Tcl's traces, so my atti-
tude might be a bit different than it is most

Historically, Tcl has been more minimal and
easier to extend and embed than Python.  I'm
not sure that's still true.  I think they've

Tcl's [exec] (think popen()) is neater than
people realize; it does a *lot* for a developer.
That's just a library issue, of course.

Certain Tcl extensions are champs:  Tk, Expect,
and Scotty are the most prominent.  What that
says about the *language* is a complex story
(and a different one in each case--sometime I'll
tell the unabridged versions).

I think I still could make a weak but definite
argument that Tcl is better as an extension
language--that is, for facilitating the under-ten-
line scripts that are a matter of indifference
to you.

Python's a better language than Visual Basic.
It's not worth arguing about.

Cameron Laird <claird at>

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