Larry Wall's comment on python...

Peter Hansen peter at
Fri Sep 6 23:02:09 EDT 2002

mmaddox at wrote:
> Although I grant the Python structure and the column-based
> structures are not completely analogous, they BOTH burden the programmer
> with arbitrary rules to govern the physical layout of the code. Although
> this layout may be considered more elegant from a readability standpoint,
> it's the enforcement of the layout that is irritating to the more
> Libertarian of us.

I think you have the wrong meaning for "arbitrary".  From the
sounds of it, you have exactly reversed which is arbitrary (your
own "libertarian" coding style) and which is "governed by fixed
rules" (Python layout).

> Having read Wall's comments on Slashdot, I think he is really just mildly
> complaining about ridiculously long page-widths in his editor, not really
> slashing Python seriously. He's just giving some props to his own baby at
> the expense of another. (He had to say something, right?) You must agree
> that Python can lead you to horizontal scrolling in your editor - the bane
> of user interface design.

I agree with the comments about Larry "having" to say something like this.

I definitely don't understand how Python, more or less than any other
language, leads to more horizontal scrolling.  Pretty much all
Python code I've ever seen (though I haven't seen yours yet :-) is
roughly 80 characters max, and mine own has been about that since I
started writing C code 16 years ago.

Do you mean there is something special about Python not delimiting
blocks in the traditional ways which somehow leads you to write
much wider lines of code?


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