Python evangelists unite!

Peter Milliken peter.milliken at
Thu Dec 6 21:11:36 CET 2001

Thanks Jim, appreciate the replies - I have learnt a lot. I have a
completely different background where the requirements were/are very much
different - what suits your environment wouldn't have suited mine :-), but
now I have a better appreciation of what else exists in the world :-).

Your experience with C++ confirms something that I have believed (and been
opinionated about! :-)) for some time now. I will save this email off in my
"ammunition" folder :-).

Me personally, I take the "unworldy" view of "what is best for the customer
and company" rather than "what is best for my resume" - perhaps not the
smartest of viewpoints but then I never expected that the field of software
engineering wouldn't have some kind of place for me. I have some quite
"strong" discussions with some of the younger members of our staff
advocating this viewpoint - they think I am wrong :-). It's a shame, because
all of those C++ projects were driven by (at least in part) this attitude
and yet it has ended up costing everyone involved (except the developers -
their resume looks better! :-)). Ah well.....


<James_Althoff at> wrote in message
news:mailman.1007592436.8944.python-list at
> Peter Milliken wrote:
> >Just like you can produce large programs in C++ (but I wouldn't
> >:-)) - just out of curiousity, why was the C++ version of the product
> >replaced by a Jython version? Too difficult/expensive to update to the
> >requirements?
> Yes, those were factors.  But actually, the market (for large,
> sophisticated ERP/Exchange systems) has changed pretty dramatically the
> past couple of years.  In the early-to-mid nineties customers in this
> market wanted/expected C++ servers talking to Windows/MFC/C++ clients.  In
> the late nineties the market shifted dramatically to where customers
> demanded Java-based servers interacting with HTML in web browsers (or Java
> desktop applications in some cases).  Java was seen by many in this market
> as providing
> - better portability across different kinds of servers,
> - increased interoperability between services from multiple vendors,
> - better leverage of "plumbing" and advanced transaction services (using
> J2EE containers),
> - better productivity, reliability, and subsequent lower cost of
> among other things.  This market today is nearly 100% Java.  C++ based
> products don't sell anymore (again in this specific market).
> >Any ideas of what the maintenance costs of the C++ version were in
> >comparison to any other language?  Was the Jython version cheaper, more
> >expensive or the same in terms of productions costs as the C++ version?
> I don't have accurate measures but most of the developers here believe
> our new Java/Jython-based system yielded 5X to 10X productivity increases
> in development over the equivalent/previous C++ system and that the
> maintenance ratio is at least as good.
> >What were the problems encountered by the various teams using Jython? It
> has
> >always interested me what the selection process is in choosing a language
> >for a project - do you know how and why Jython was chosen? Was it because
> of
> >popular aclaim or was some formal comparision of various languages
> >performed? If there was some formal selection process, what languages
> >considered? What features of Jython caused it to be selected? i.e. what
> >features where missing in the other languages under consideration.
> The biggest problem with using Jython was convincing the team to use it.
> My experience is that developers are very interested (with good cause ;-)
> in populating their resumes with experience that is directed at the center
> of the market.  At the time we started this new technology our C++
> developers were far more interested in putting Java on their resumes than
> Python.  Since I was the CTO and Senior VP of development, though, I
> basically dictated the choice of Jython.  Of course, to be fair, I sold
> concept by first developing (with my own rusty hand) a prototype system in
> a month that amazed and dazzled all the C++ developers.  They were
> astonished to see that such a system could be created by one (old and
> cranky ;-) person in such a short amount of time.  The other factor that
> helped in our case was the fact that the technology -- by market demand --
> had to be Java *and* we were convinced that we needed a scripting language
> as part of our technology.  I sold Jython as being the best possible
> scripting language for Java.  The reason *I* was sold on Jython was
> of its being a complete, dynamic (not statically type-checked), OO
> that interfaced seamlessly with Java.  I like to view Jython/Python as a
> "high-level, application language" and Java as a "low-level, systems
> language".  :-)
> Jim

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