A modest proposal (was: Comment on PEP-0238)

Arthur Siegel ajs at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jul 10 14:51:41 CEST 2001

Phil writes -

>Another force, concerned about possible flaws in Python as it stands,
>wants to improve the language. Thus we have new operators such as +=,
>and other changes for the good. Thus also we have a PEP regarding 
>integer division, which Guido thinks is a flaw in the current
>version of Python. This attitude of wanting to make the most elegant
>possible programming language is also entirely sensible, not
>least because if Guido didn't think that way, Python wouldn't
>exist and we'd all be using P**l or something like it.

>So, how do we reconcile the two?

>I suggest we continue to name the existing language "Python" and
>the new developments by called under a different name ("SuperPython"
>or "CP4A" possibly). That way, everyone gets what they want.

>The new SuperPython would be free to experiment with radical new
>ideas -- including changing the case-sensitivity, for example. And
>the old, exisiting Python would be guaranteed to evolve in a way 
>that doesn't break existing code, without a very very good reason.

One would like to believe that public discussion of these matters 
among an interested community is a plus.  I am beginning to feel
otherwise.  To me, a significant problem is how arbitrary things
seem when given full light.  I happen to be a novice programmer,
grateful to Python for getting me over many the hump.  How might 
I convince Guido that with what one necessarily confronts in
learning programming concepts, grasping integer division and 
case sensitivity are at worst minor hurdles, at best, minor victories
with an educational worth of their own.

In other recent discussions of issues of true complexity - was it
augmented assignment - Guido was content to imagine that there
is an instructor guiding the novice - issue gone.

I would argue that a good learning language and a novice-proof
language are too quite different things.  Python is already a good
learning language.  Let Python 3000 be the separate novice- 
proof one.

But it is Guido's language and Guido's call.  Just wish it was
all just left to his own sense of design elegance, which there
is reason to trust - rather his public justifications, which I 
never find very satisfactory.


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