Python Popularity: Questions and Comments

Hans Nowak wurmy at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 27 20:18:02 CET 2001


Ron Stephens wrote:

> 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 should hope it's still growing. :)  I want more books, more Python jobs, 
more programs, more everything! :-)

> 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.

Commercial growth, yes. A recession doesn't stop anyone from sitting
down and writing some Python code for fun. (Assuming the recession isn't
so bad that they cannot do even this anymore.)

> 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.

It is... and functional programming, and possibly some other
paradigms. I don't see how Ruby can be more modern, unless it does that
new stuff like aspect-oriented programming. It may be perceived as
cleaner by some, but Python is rapidly removed its warts, like
mending the type/class dichotomy. (And gaining lots of other features
of dubious utility along the way... but that's a different story... ;-)

> a. Usage on the Ruby newsgroup is growing much faster than on
> comp.lang.python in the last year that I have been observing it. A year
> ago, Python got typically three times as many posts per day as Ruby.
> Now, its more like a 4:3 ratio, with Python getting say, 4000 per month,
> and Ruby 3000. At this rate, Ruby could pass Python is  afew months, by
> this measure! (Rest assured, Ptyhonis fdoing much better if mesured by
> Sourceforge projects, about 1300 to 80). By the way, Just van Rossum's
> http://starship.python.net/~just/comp.lang.python/ graph of Python
> newsgroup coverage seems to show a slight decline from over 6000 per
> month in late-middle 2001 to the current 3500 or so I see on here. Mr.
> van Rossum said he may not be able to update these any more due to some
> Yahoo change; anyway, am I interpreting these numbers and trends
> accurately? Will the Python newsgroup usage turn upwards again? Does it
> matter?

I don't know, but remember that there are many SIGs, mailing lists etc,
besides this newsgroup. So the more specialized discussions are done
elsewhere. I don't know if Ruby has a lot of mailing lists comparable
to Python's, but it would seem to me that the number of messages in
c.l.py isn't all there is to it.

> 2. The economy is hurting Python's open source development model. It was
> bad enough when the core Python coders were jerked around by Be Open;
> now I am very sad to hear of Mark Hammond's not being with ActiveState
> anymore? [...]

I think PythonLabs, or Zope Corp., should hire him. That would seem like
a smart move.
 
> Ten years from now, will Python still be Relevant? Oh, I know that
> Python will still be being used, and the community will still exist, but
> will it really be a thing that seems to Matter, like it does now.

Ten years is a long time. Maybe by then, we won't even *want* to program
in Python, because there's something better out, based on insights from
working with other languages, possibly including Python. Or maybe in ten
years Python will look nothing like it is right now. Who knows...

Regards,

--Hans



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