REPOST: Re: Python Popularity: Questions and Comments

phil hunt philh at
Thu Dec 27 12:48:13 EST 2001

On Thu, 27 Dec 2001 03:58:52 GMT, Ron Stephens <rdsteph at> wrote:
>OK, so its between the holidays and the newsgroup is quiet, so maybe I
>dare waste a little bandwidth with that most useless (but fun)
>commodity: gossip.
>How is Python doing popularity wise? After such a meteoric growth
>thought the nineties, and a spectacular climax in 2000 and early 2001,
>is Python leveling out, going dot.bust, or still not yet at the knee of
>the software world's most spectacular growth curve?
>I'd be interested in some comments and observations and opinions from
>others. Meanwhile, here  are a few of my own:
>Python, while fabulously successful, is at an interesting point in its
>growth curve. It will be difficult to maintain the extremely high rate
>of growth exhibited so far; new contenders are possible problems; and
>the recessionary economy could also negatively impact Python's growth.
>1. Ruby is an especially interesting competitor to Python. I have been
>monitoring the Ruby newsgroup, and it shows incredible growth and
>vitality. Furthermore, Ruby is aimed right at the heart of Python's

>From what I've seen of it, Ruby is quite similar to Python; however,
Python has more developers, more libraries, etc. I see no compelling
reason for me to switch to Ruby.

>If we view Microsoft's Visual Studio, especially Visual's C#
>and VB, as the official 800 lb. gorilla of software development; and if
>we view Java as the 400 lb. gorilla pretender to the throne; and if we
>view Borland's Delphi and Kylix as no more than a smart leader of a
>chimp; then everything else is the pack of open source chimps.

Just as Python can compile to the JVM, I'm sure it will compile to
Microsoft's .net platform.

>The open source world is still led by PERL, but PERL is truly more of a
>text processing, web CGI, scripting specialist; not so much of a direct
>threat to Python.

Perl is OK for small programs. I dislike its syntax, however. 

> PHP is a server side scripting specialist.

If Python solutions for serving web pages were more mature/available, this
would cause a good deal of growth for Python. PHP as a programming language
isn't anything special, but for making dynamic web pages it's a very good
tool, as it is easy to use.

> Even
>JavaScript is strong in its narrow niche of client side web scripting.
>Lisp and Scheme dominate thier academic world. But Python aims to be
>much more than these; Python aims to be a powerful general purpose
>programming language, in addition to being a very easy to learn and easy
>to use scripting language. And who can say that Python does not succeed
>very well in all of the above?
>But Ruby is also a more general purpose, object oriented, relatively
>easy to read, language. Ruby folks include those who like its more
>Perl-like syntax, but Ruby's core converts believe that its pure,
>absolute object oriented nature exceeds those of Python and make it more
>worthy to long term success. They seem to see Ruby as a more modern,
>up-to-date version of Python. They see Python as a compromise between
>object oriented and procedural programming.

I don't want programming to be forcibly OO. In Ruby, can you write
a procedure which isn't part of a class? (Like you can in Python, but
can't in Java).

If not, then Ruby is forcing you to hammer square pegs into round 

>c. Ruby actually seems to be a nice language to me. Its object oriented
>features seem well thought out and yet its still easy to comprehend. I
>will never leave Python behind, but will others?

What can I do in Ruby that I cannot just as easily do in python? Until
that\ question is answered, Ruby will stay behind python in popularity.

>Ten years from now, will Python still be Relevant?

I think so.

I expectb Python to keep growing. As computers get faster, programming in
C++ makes less and less sense. People will move over to more high level 
langauges, such as Java, C#, Perl and Python. Java and C# are roughly
on the same level, faster than Perl/Python but slower to code in. Python
offers the fastest coding time, as it is "executable pseudocode", so
I expect more and more stuff to be done in it.

Python runs quickly on my 300 MHz box, which is 3 times slower
than the slowest PC you can buy today. It can only get more popular.

*** Philip Hunt *** philh at ***

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