Deposing Dictators

David Bolen db3l at fitlinxx.com
Sat Jul 28 02:39:00 CEST 2001


Stephen Horne <steve at lurking.demon.co.uk> writes:

> A couple of years ago, you may remember a major panic caused by
> peoples realisation that a hell of a lot of COBOL code was going to
> stop working. The developers were long since retired. In many cases,
> the source code was long since lost. That COBOL program was still
> there and working, though, some 20 or 30 years after it was written.
> 
> Useful programs aren't discarded so fast as development fashions and
> religions. The trouble is that Python programs - and libraries much
> more so - are quite often shared in source form.

Yes, but aside from perhaps small utility programs with minimal
demands on system resources, such long lived programs are rarely
long-lived in isolation from their environment.  So in many of those
COBOL cases those applications were still running within the
environments in which they were written and designed for and on the
same systems.

In the Python world, that would be equivalent to keeping the platform
(and installed Python interpreter) along with the code.  Hey, and it
would be much harder to lose the source too!

> If that was true, we wouldn't be using Python at all. After all, it is
> a dynamically typed language that stores its identifiers in a hash
> table - it provides a keyword to say 'a function definition is coming'
> rather than leaving it to issues that often depend on the semantics
> (rather than simply grammar rules) of what has happened in the past.
> And it doesn't even allow you to use braces for block structures. How
> not-like-C can you get?

True, but for this specific issue (division) I'll certainly admit that
when writing "x/y", the reason I expect truncation of that (and my
brain actually thinks about it) is because of my C background.  I'm
not thinking just "division" when I write it, I'm thinking "integer
division".

--
-- David
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