A modest indentation proposal

brueckd at tbye.com brueckd at tbye.com
Sat Dec 1 03:59:45 CET 2001

On Fri, 30 Nov 2001, Erann Gat wrote:

> > Sure it is, otherwise you've also just disqualified every other language
> > in existence. You said they also like C++.
> Yes, but it's important to understand *why* they like C++.  They like C++
> because "everyone uses it."  That fact alone can overcome nearly any
> technical objection.

In which case changing Python doesn't help you much. ;-)

> That depends on one's goal.  My goal is to convince the Powers that Be
> here to let me write flight software in Python instead of C++.  If a tiny,
> inconsequential change to the language lets me accomplish that then I
> think it's an excellent reason to change the language.

So should an exception be made for you or for everyone who would like to
introduce little tweaks to the language? Do you feel that fixing
everyone's pet peeves would keep Python code clean and readable? What if I
feel strongly that all class names should have the first letter
capitalized? Should that be allowed in? If not, why not, if it'll help me
convince others to use Python?

But it gets worse than that. What if somehow your request is granted,
Python gets changed, and then your Powers That Be still decide not to use
Python. Suddenly, we're changing Python for people that don't even *use*
it. That's laugh-out-loud funny!

>  Remember, there's a lot of herd-mentality reasoning
> going on here.  I could pitch my solution purely internally, but then it
> would be "Erann's hack", which makes it bad.  (Look at the reaction I'm
> getting here.)

Yes, people who have used Python for a long time are not exactly lining up
to express favor with this idea. Maybe that means that making this change
isn't such a good idea. Maybe it means that this theoretical problem
doesn't actually occur in practice all that much.

> Yes, I see you are beginning to understand.  Fortunately, in this case the
> list of nit-pick issues seems to be rather short.  There's not a whole
> laundry list of issues, just this one.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a
> potential show stopper.

Trying to change Python is not the right approach. If nothing else, it's
reinforcing your boss' irrational thought process. Anytime I've
successfully "gotten permission" to use Python in a professional
development environment it has been through showing the benefits, by
giving them working code. Frankly, if I were your boss, I'd be frightened
of a language where you were able to convince the language creators to
change it because I thought of something I didn't like about it. Now
*that* would be a decent reason to avoid Python.

> > Not that I even have any say in whether or not the suggestion would ever
> > be considered,
> Oh, but you *do* have a say because the people who make the decisions here
> listen to you.  Not directly, of course, they listen to the "buzz",

Sometimes, but I'm very thankful for all the times Guido et al choose to
ignore the "buzz". He's the BDFL for a reason. For me a lot of Python's
"goodness" is rooted in the fact that Guido did not try to make a language
that is all things to all people.

> No, by their reasoning they should use computers because everyone uses
> computers.  They should use C++ because everyone uses C++.  Should they
> use Python?  Well, very few people seem to use it (relatively speaking),
> but it seems basically OK, kind of like Perl, which everyone uses and that
> makes it OK, but it's got that weird indentation thing going on, and that
> makes it suspect.

Where's the logic in making the clear-thinking people bend over backwards
to please the ones with a goofy thought process? Makes no sense to me.

> Now from here on how the story goes is up to you.  If you simply insist
> that the problem doesn't exist you will lose, at least in the short run,
> because for the moment "they" *just know* that it's a problem (in much the
> same way that they *just know* that C++ *isn't* a problem).  If, on the
> other hand, you can show that the community recognizes the problem and has
> a solution then you win.  You are the community.  It's up to you.

Huh? This is getting silly. I lose because the language doesn't evolve to
fix a problem I don't have? I lose because Python maintains its integrity
in the face of irrational people who don't even use it?

Why don't you go onto Sourceforge and look at some of the open bugs, or
look at the list of upcoming features. Every item on that list will
provide far more value to far more people. If nothing else, submit your
own patch of the fix, or offer someone money to make a custom version of
Python for you. You're asking people to use their donated time to "fix"
something that nobody else wants, to do work that doesn't actually benefit
them because what it would fix doesn't actually cause any pain. Doesn't it
make far more sense to work on things that are causing real problems in
real programs, rather than problems that might occur in programs that
haven't even been written yet by people who might not choose to use Python


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