Importance of C# (was Re: IronPython-0.6 is now available!)

Alan Kennedy alanmk at
Thu Jul 29 17:48:42 CEST 2004

[Ivan Voras]

>> Btw. has any serious python-lover tried C#? I was sceptical, it 
>> comming from Microsoft, but I'm reading a book about it now 
>> ("Programming C#"), and I'm getting really impressed - it could be a 
>> very productive language, and speedy also.

[Peter Hansen]
> In what way do you feel C# is significantly different than Java?
> As near as I can figure, those who find Python has significant
> advantages for many applications over Java and C++ will likely
> feel the same way about C#, only more so.  Isn't it basically
> a highly MS-centric remake of Java, but missing the very
> cross-platform nature which has served Java (and Python) best?

IMHO, Microsoft have always been masters of the 80/20 rule: making it 
very simple for users to do 80% of what they want, but leaving them 
bending over backwards to do the last 20%. Practicality beats purity.

But I think MS have done a much better job with the .Net CLR ( == java 
the virtual machine) and C# ( ~= java the programming language ). They 
hired lots of clever people, asked them to come up with something 
java-like, but (better|simpler). The result is, IMHO, quite nice: I 
felt pretty at home writing C# pretty quickly, mostly because of my 
java experience. There are a few differences that might feel quirky at 
first, but they seem natural enough once you get used to them, e.g. 
the physical location from which classes are loaded determining their 
security priviledges.

And I think it's important to note that the MS.Net CLR is not the only 
show in town. Novell backs the Mono project now, and they are a 
considerable Microsoft competitor. There are still 
highly-change-resistant organisations out there running Novell Netware 
(remember that?): many of them skipped Windows completely, and are now 
upgrading to Linux, which Novell now also sell through their 
acquisition of Suse. So in the near future, commercial users will have 
a choice of Windows/CLR.Net or SuseLinux/Mono to run their 
C#/J#/Ironpython/(VB|J)Script/etc assemblies. So possibly some serious 
competition lies ahead, deliberate attempts to introduce 
incompatibility notwithstanding.

I see all of these matters as a huge validation of the concept of 
software virtual machines, at a social and commercial level if not a 
technical one. And of course python was doing virtual machines a long 
time before any of these JVM/CLR upstarts, which explains why its so 
stable, robust, efficient and excellent.

just-my-0,02-euro-ly y'rs

alan kennedy
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