python vs awk for simple sysamin tasks

William Park opengeometry at
Sat Jun 5 00:36:48 CEST 2004

Steve Lamb <grey at> wrote:
> On 2004-06-04, William Park <opengeometry at> wrote:
> > I realize that this is Python list, but a dose of reality is needed
> > here.  This is typical view of salary/wage recipient who would do
> > anything to waste time and money.  How long does it take to type out
> > simple 2 line shell/awk script?  And, how long to do it in Python?
>     How long does it take me to modify that script a few weeks later
>     when my boss asks me, "Y'know, I could really use this and this."
>     In shell, quite a few minutes, maybe a half hour.  Python?  Maybe
>     10 minutes tops.
>     How long does it take me to modify it a month or two after that
>     when my boss tells me, "We need to add in this feature, exclusions
>     are nice, and what about this?"  Shell, now pushing a good 30-40m.
>     Python, maybe 15m.

Too many maybe's, and you're timing hypotheoretical tasks which you hope
it would take that long.

Will you insist on supporting/modifying your old Python code, even if
it's cheaper and faster to throw it away and write a new code from
scratch?  Because that's what Shell/Awk is for...  write, throw away,
write, throw away, ...

>     It is amazing how much shell bogs down when you're running it over
>     several hundred thousand directories.  :P

Same would be true for Python here.

> > "Right tool for right job" is the key insight here.  Just as Python
> > evolves, other software evolves as well.
>     What you're missing is that the job often evolves as well so it is
>     better to use a tool which has a broader scope and can evolve with
>     the job more so than the quick 'n dirty,
>     get-it-done-now-and-to-hell-with-maintainability,
>     ultra-specialized, right-tool-for-the-job tool.
>     Do I use one-liners?  All the time.  When I need to delete a
>     subset of files or need to parse a particular string out of a
>     log-file in a one-off manner.  I can chain the tools just as
>     effectively as the next guy.  But anything more than that and out
>     comes Python (previously Perl) because I *knew* as soon as I
>     needed a tool more than once I would also find more uses for it,
>     would have more uses of it requested of me and I'd have to
>     maintain it for months, sometimes years to come.  

"If hammer is all you have, then everything becomes a nail". :-)

William Park, Open Geometry Consulting, <opengeometry at>
No, I will not fix your computer!  I'll reformat your harddisk, though.

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