Python -- (just) a successful experiment?

Eric Pederson whereU at
Sun Aug 7 10:54:06 CEST 2005

Raise your hand if you think the best technology wins!

For those of you with your hands in the air, tell me: if Python is so good, why has PHP achieved such greater adoption and mindshare?  Why do web scripters still cling to their Perl, even in corporate environments?  Why hasn't Python made inroads against Java?  Why is Ruby, and Ruby on Rails, getting such strong play?

Are these better programming languages, or is it other factors?

On a whim I installed Ruby on Rails today - pretty much a one-click deal.  It was a very slick (Windows) installation, as it automatically figured out and downloaded dependencies  - there was no question it was properly installed, and I ended up with a couple "IDE"s for Ruby, examples, etc.  Markedly better than installing Python - no contest - and this downloaded a useful and easy to employ application, with a clear path to show me how to use it.

As I perused the tutorial like documentation, I realized I wasn't anxious to jump into the language (Ruby), but I saw that I could certainly achieve a quicker success putting together a web application with RoR than with (take your pick: Perl, Lisp, Java, etc. etc.)  If my mind wasn't appreciative of the Python language, though, Ruby would have hooked me right there.

While I perceive that the future of the language Python is in good development hands - well debated, and thoughtfully strategized; the Python accoutrements can be lacking.

Imagine, if you will, a new car, that does 0-60 in 2 seconds, 60-0 in .2 seconds, has a top speed of 185 mph, corners on par with an F-1 car, costs no more than a Volkswagen Passat... but comes without tires or seats, and you have to install the electrics and brakes yourself.

Sure, car geeks are going to love it, but you just are not going to see that many at the grocery store, or doing car pool duty, and no garage really works on them much... forget about finding parts, you have to make your own replacements.

I am not saying Python is that car, but I do think that "Python", as opposed to "Python the computer language specification", is done a great disservice by the lack of certain accoutrements.  I do not know if there are features of the language (specification or philosophy) which thwart the development of the complementary items, but I firmly believe that the lack of them is a factor in Python's ho-hum adoption rate.

A good computer language is great, but it pales in comparison with what can be done with such a language.

What is missing?

-- Automatic dependency handling
-- Tightly coupled GUI package ("tightly coupled" ~= "Pythonic")
-- High level IDE (i.e. intuitive drag and drop GUI builder)
-- High level database framework (perhaps a mature, killer Dabo)
-- Powerful web framework as good as the language (and simple enough for the PHP guys to use)
-- Etc.

Applications like Zope and Plone help drive more people toward the language, though the competition is stiff.

Dozens of competing half baked tools/applications... they just confuse people and take up their time with decision paralysis, though they may be fun to write.

Is it wrong to appreciate Python as a language, but want to have the nice accoutrements we see in some competing languages?

Disclaimer: only recently downloaded Eric3 for Windows, and it looks good, but I haven't had time to learn it yet.  Whatsup with the troll, though?

ePrefix="".join([chr(ord(x)+1) for x in "do"])

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