Python's "only one way to do it" philosophy isn't good?

Steven D'Aprano steven at
Fri Jun 22 08:17:15 CEST 2007

On Thu, 21 Jun 2007 15:25:37 -0400, Douglas Alan wrote:

> You are imagining something very different from what is proposed.
> Lisp-like macros don't allow "anything goes".

Provided people avoid doing anything "which would be considered very 
rude" (your own words).

Python already allows me to shoot myself in the foot, if I wish. I'm 
comfortable with that level of freedom. I'm not necessarily comfortable 
with extensions to the language that would allow me the freedom to shoot 
myself in the head. I would need to be convinced of the advantages, as 
would many other people, including the BDFL.

It isn't clear exactly what functionality a hypothetical Python macro 
system would include, let alone whether the benefits would outweigh the 
costs, so I think it is very important for proponents of such a macro 
system to justify precisely why it is valuable before expecting others to 
go off and spend potentially thousands of man-hours turning Python into a 
shadow of Lisp/Scheme. (It took Lisp half a century and millions of 
dollars of corporate funding to reach where it is now. Anyone who thinks 
it is a trivial task to turn Python into Lisp "only better" is deluded -- 
one can't merely bolt on macros onto the existing Python compiler.)


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