What is Python?!

Magnus Lycka lycka at carmen.se
Fri Aug 12 12:05:46 CEST 2005


Evil Bastard wrote:
  > I guess a language could be called a 'scripting language' if:
>  - the source code can be executed directly, and/or
>  - source need not be converted to a separate file in a
>    non-human-readable format before it can be executed, and/or
>  - a change to the source file automatically causes a change in
>    runtime behaviour

That kind of a language is typically called an interpreted
language, in contrast to a compiled. But it's really not an
aspect of the language, but rather of the tools being used
to convert the source code to "action" on a computer. I've
used both interpreted and compiled versions of Pascal and
BASIC, and I know of interpreted versions of C etc.

In a way, I guess Python's problem in achieving the popularity
it deserves is due to its versitility. Python works well as
an embedded macro language, and is used like that in both off
the shelf software and bespoke systems. It's useful as a scripting
language and is used in that way by NASA, ILM etc. It's also
very useful for building all sorts of software without mixing in
other languages or programs, and can replace VB, C++, COBOL, Java
or what have you. How do you sell this without making it sound
like snake oil? (Particularly with that name! :)

While other P-languages are used beyond their intended use, Perl
*is* basically a scripting language. The strong point of Perl is
that it's a "unified" replacement for a whole bunch of Unix tools.
PHP is for embedding functionality in web pages. Free cross
platform ASP. They explaining Python in two sentences!



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