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Seebs usenet-nospam at
Wed Nov 3 02:25:56 CET 2010

On 2010-11-02, Tim Harig <usernet at> wrote:
> This is Python's most noticable blemish outside of the community.
> Everybody knows that Python is the language that forces you to use a
> particular style of formatting; and, that is a turn-off for many people.

Honestly, I could probably live with that; the killer is the impossibility
of recovering from white space damage.  I have had many things happen to
code over the years which required someone to run them through indent/cb.

> It is a big mistake that whenever the issue arises, the community
> effectively attacks anybody who might have disagreements with the tradeoffs
> made for the Python language.  This tends to set people on the defensive
> and gives them a bad taste about the language as a whole.

Yes.  It does not create an impression that this is an engineering tradeoff
which has been considered and understood; it creates the impression that
people are defensive enough about it that they're not able to confidently
acknowledge the shortcomings while maintaining that the tradeoff is worth

I like C.  If you tell me that C's macro processor sucks, I will agree
with you.  I don't have to make excuses or pretend that there's no
downsides; I can justify my preference for the language even *granting*
those downsides (and downsides aplenty are to be found).

> It would be much better if the community would simply acknowledge that
> this is a tradeoff the the language has made and one which is often
> misunderstood by many first time Python programmers.  Then it is possible
> transition to Python's strengths.  Don't simply ignore that there *are*
> potential downfalls to this approach.


I am fine with this tradeoff.  It's not what I would have picked, but
hey, I'm not Dutch.  What I'm not fine with is people telling me that
it's not a tradeoff and that all the problems are my fault.

If someone designed a protocol where a particular kind of file was required
to be sent via email, as plain text, with many lines starting "From ", and
the protocol died horribly whenever it encountered ">From " at the
beginning of a line, no amount of pointing out that the mail servers in
question were wrong would make it a good design for a protocol.

Whitespace damage is, indeed, wrong.  It's a bad thing.  It is an
*extremely common* bad thing, and I fundamentally don't think it was
a good choice to build a system with no redundancy against it.  That
"redundant" information saves our hides on a regular basis in an
imperfect world.

Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed.  Peter Seebach / usenet-nospam at <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.

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