Where is Python in the scheme of things?

Magnus Lycka lycka at carmen.se
Thu Oct 12 12:03:43 CEST 2006

Bruno Desthuilliers wrote:
> gord wrote:
>> As a complete novice in the study of Python, I am asking myself where this 
>> language is superior or better suited than others. For example, all I see in 
>> the tutorials are lots of examples of list processing, arithmetic 
>> calculations - all in a DOS-like environment.
> s/DOS-like/command line/
> The command line interface is widely used on unix-like systems, and is
> very handy for a lot of things.

In general, I think using the keyboard more and the mouse less is
typically a win, both in power of expression and in speed. I don't
think it's a coincidence that most of us use the keyboard and plain
text to communicate in this forum. Writing text by pointing, dragging
and clicking instead of by typing, would probably slow us down quite
a bit.

I feel much more productive in bash than in most Windows apps.
(I still like to have several terminal windows though.)

My seven year old son did play a bit with magnetic letters we have
on the fridge door in the kitchen (when he was small, he'd say now)
but he's dropped that entirely in favor of pencil and paper. His
two year old brother can play with that fridge-based GUI...

When we reach a certain level of expertize, we often find it easier
to pick the things we put together from our memory and imagination,
rather than from some kind of menu in our field of vision.

Ok, the keyboard is a kind of menu too, but that's not the point.
The important thing is that text is an extremely powerful way of
conveying information that we've used for thousands of years. It's
far more sophisticated than pointing at visible objects.

Also, a tool like Python isn't bound to keyboards, like VB is
bound to the Windows GUI. Almost everything, from network traffic,
to GUI interaction, to hardware manipulations can be effectively
translated to and from text formats. Not that Python can't handle
binary data, but going via textual representations usually makes
testing, debugging and understanding much easier.

I'd suggest that the OP look at the Wikipedia page in Unix
Philosophy. Read about Gancarz tenets, and replace shell scripts
with Python. (Of course, Python offers more elaborate communication
than pipes.) I'd also the link to Joel Spolsky's Biculturalism
article, and read that.

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