Python Newbie

Steve Simmons square.steve at gmail.com
Sat Feb 23 16:43:09 CET 2013


On 22/02/2013 22:37, piterrr.dolinski at gmail.com wrote:
> So far I am getting the impression that Python is a toy language of some kind (similar to Basic of the early 80's), not really suitable for serious work. The only difference between these languages (admittedly, a serious one) is the existence of extensive libraries. Otherwise there would be no good reason for Python to exist. Nevertheless, it does exist and I have to learn it. As long as someone is paying for my time, that's OK with me.
As with any comparison between languages, some of what you say is right 
and some not so much.  I'm working with Python because I wanted to and, 
although I'm in a similar place on the learning curve, I think its OK.

My first exposure to Python was when my son came home with a project to 
map Gaussian distributions in Python. The problem wasn't well defined 
and the lessons on Python were either poor or not absorbed by my son.  
Nevertheless, we got stuck in and, within the two weeks available, made 
a decent stab at delivering some results.

Now I'm writing (in my spare time) an application to take images of 
passports via a specialist camera, read the Machine  Readable Zone, 
check data on the new RFID passports and store it in a searchable 
database ('serious work' in my estimation).  I chose Python for the job 
in spite of the fact that the supplier of the camera "doesn't support" 
Python.

Why Python?  Because I found it approachable (similar to Basic); 
readable - if you write it properly (similar to Basic); because it has 
an excellent & well supported range of libraries (unlike Basic); because 
it has a choice of excellent GUI tool-sets (unlike Basic), because it is 
supported by an absolute gold-mine of enthusiastic hackers - in the best 
sense of the word (unlike Basic); because it is portable (arguably 
unlike Basic) and because I thought it had the shallowest learning curve 
amongst some of the supported options (C/C++, Java, Delphi, FoxPro - yes 
really).

I get the impression that you are a developer of some experience on a 
single language.  I wouldn't call myself a developer but I have written, 
modified and/or debugged software in upwards of 20 languages and, from 
that perspective, I would say that the second language you learn is 
probably the hardest for the simple reason that you have to put away a 
bunch of learned prejudices and learn a whole new set.  After three or 
four, you start to see the commonalities and differences and 'get' why 
they exist and you find yourself with a new set of learned prejudices 
:-) but you also gain the perspective that some languages are good at 
'this' while others are good at 'that'.

If it is any consolation, I'm still struggling with 
'pass-by-object-pointer' (or whatever it is called) and finding the 
'Pythonic Way' to do things but I'm still liking it.

My main message to you would be :  don't approach Python with a negative 
attitude, give it a chance and I'm sure you'll come to enjoy it.

Steve



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