Is Python Dead? Long Live Python!

Peter Hansen peter at
Fri Jul 13 03:00:44 CEST 2001

Kemp Randy-W18971 wrote:

> There is a good test of how popular something is.

I'm not convinced this is really a good test...

> Walk into a big book store that carries technical books (Border's is an
> example in the US), or a web outlet like  Count how many
> books are on a topic: Perl, Java, Python, Ruby, PHP, ASP, etc.  It may not
> be foolproof, but it is a good start. 

Let's consider the case of two hypothetical languages.

One of them was designed by someone with extensive language design
background and an innate good sense of design.  It was easy to learn 
and apply and well-supported by a friendly newsgroup, etc. (not 
thinking of any particular language here...  this is just a hypothetical 
case, remember :-).  The language was mature, with a strong, 
established and mostly content user base which was growing steadily.

The other language was a twisted hodge-podge of braces and Perlishness
built on a poor design with only a very limited field of application in 
mind, by someone fresh out of university and with relatively little 
language design in his background (and, if not poor design sense,
then poor taste in choice of starting point).  Luckily, however, 
the language struck a chord with a frenzied population of web-meisters
and script kiddies who up until now were limited to writing code in 
Javascript to run on the client side and, as a result, exploded in popularity 
almost overnight.  Unfortunately as a result of the language's design, 
it was difficult for new programmers to learn, and because of its 
limitations it was very difficult for those programmers to apply it 
outside of its narrow niche without assistance.

I think it would be reasonable to assume that a much larger number
of books (and I mean those big, thick books that Philip Greenspun 
derides so well in
would be written about the second language than the first.  

The users of the first would have most of their needs met by the 
online information available, and the incredible ease of learning 
the language or of applying it in diverse areas.  

Publishers can smell this and would not put their efforts into 
tree-killing for the second language.  Entire forests, however,
would be slaughtered in the name of the second language, to buy 
Mercedes automobiles for the publishing executives.

Hypothetically speaking, of course. ;)
Peter Hansen, P.Eng.
peter at

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