What's better about Ruby than Python?

Mario S. Mommer m_mommer at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 22 10:48:19 CEST 2003

"Andrew Dalke" <adalke at mindspring.com> writes:
> As I pointed elsewhere, I tried a couple times to learn Lisp,
> if only to figure out how to tweak Emacs.  I never succeeded.
> Perhaps for the same reason I never liked HP's stack oriented
> calculators?

Lisp is simple.

(<operator> <item-1> <item-2> ...)

Where's the problem?

Granted, you need an editor that helps you to match the parens (which
is nothing particularly esoteric), but other than that, it is just a
normal programming language. You've got functions, variables, loops,
etc. even goto, (and macros, and code generation/manipulation
facilities you have not seen nor will see anywhere else, but you do
not need to use them for simple stuff). What was it that you couldn't

> For observational evidence of this, I suggest my own
> subfields, computational biology and computational chemisty.
> In the first there are bioperl, biopython, biojava, and bioruby,
> all with active participants and a yearly confererence organized
> by open-bio.org.  But there is only a rudimentary biolisp project
> with minimal code available and just about no community
> involvement.  In the latter, Python takes the lead by far over
> any language other than C/C++/Fortran with commercial support
> for a couple toolkits and several more free ones beyond that.
> There's even a workshop in a couple weeks on the representation
> of biomolecules for Python.  There are also some Java and C++
> toolkits for chemical informatics. And again, there is no Lisp
> involvement.
> I ask you why.

You shouldn't confuse success with quality. For experimental evidence
look at music charts. On the other hand, if people feel more
confortable with python, then so be it.

Lisp suffers also from historical problems. It was too big and too
slow for mid-80's up to mid-90's PCs, and there where far too many
incompatible dialects, which led to it falling in disgrace. But better
compilers, moores law, more memory, and an ANSI standard have improved
things up to a point where I think there is no reason not to use it.

> And I assert that it's because Lisp as a language does not encourage
> the sort of code sharing that the languages I mentioned above do.

This is ridiculous. You don't know Lisp so you do not have an idea
(hint: what you say is wrong), and thus you shouldn't be saying this.

> So while it is very expressive for a single person, a single person
> can only do so much.

People regularly work in teams on lisp projects. Is that just an
illusion of mine?

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