What does Python fix?

Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters mertz at gnosis.cx
Thu Jan 17 19:36:15 CET 2002


Andrew Kuchling <akuchlin at mems-exchange.org> wrote previously:
|I don't know; I think most programmers are simply far too conservative
|and too intolerant of superficial syntactical features.  Witness how
|much flak Python, an otherwise fairly conventional languages, takes
|for its one unconventional feature, indentation. With this attitude,
|Lisp with its parenthesis-heavy syntax doesn't stand a chance, no
|matter how good or bad the language itself is.

I'm one of those "superficial" programmers myself.  I've *really* tried
to like Lisp.  I would genuinely like to like it.  But the prefix syntax
and glut of parentheses are simply too much for me to deal with.  It
absolutely does not parse visually for me, much as if a programming
language were written in Kanji, or some other alphabet I do not know
(I'm sure the Roman alphabet of most all programming languages is a
similar obstacle to many other people).  Sure it is "just spelling" in
principle, but learning the spelling is just too much work.  I can
"sound out" Lisp, of course... character by character, I can translate
it into the "real meaning" of the expressions... but I cannot *program*
that way.

Btw. The nonsense that many Lisp advocates promote about redefining the
syntax is just that.  Of course one can do that in principle.  Define
your own infix syntax that is dynamically parsed into S-expressions, or
whatever.  But nobody *does* it for the vast majority of Lisp code.  So
trying to read real-life Lisp is still a matter of counting parentheses
and mental translation to the "actual" infix of operators.  YMMV.

I don't think Python is like this at all.  I realize that C-style
languages do not mandate indentation.  So that feature is
unconventional.  But in practice, C code (and C++, Java, Javascript,
even Perl to an extent) is -almost always- indented in almost the same
way as Python is required to be.  The indentation doesn't require a
mental translation to read... albeit, it *might* require a slightly
different discipline to *write* than some people are used to.

Yours, Lulu...

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