Python's biggest compromises

Mark VandeWettering wettering at
Thu Jul 31 20:11:13 CEST 2003

In article <899f842.0307310555.56134f71 at>,
Anthony_Barker wrote:

> I have been reading a book about the evolution of the Basic
> programming language. The author states that Basic - particularly
> Microsoft's version is full of compromises which crept in along the
> language's 30+ year evolution.
> What to you think python largest compromises are?
> The three that come to my mind are significant whitespace, dynamic
> typing, and that it is interpreted - not compiled. These three put
> python under fire and cause some large projects to move off python or
> relegate it to prototyping.

I don't view any of these as "compromises".  That word suggests that
something was conceded, or that an intermediate position between two
extremes was chosen to appease.  I don't think that either sense really
applies to these features.

The three items that you listed are merely design choices.  While arguments
over them are continuous, two of the design choices (interpreter, dynamic 
typing) are consistent with Python's intended use as a language which 
excels at rapid prototyping.  The third (white space) is merely a stylistic
choice which is designed to encourage readable programs.  

"Compromises" in language design occur usually when a committee tries to 
standardize a language, and each has differing views about how the language
should be used.   While this occurs somewhat in Python, other languages
have suffered more mightily from this particular disorder.  

> Anthony

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