How to "wow" someone new to Python

Albert-Jan Roskam fomcl at
Fri Jan 16 18:33:31 CET 2015

On Fri, Jan 16, 2015 4:24 PM CET Andrew Berg wrote:

>On 2015.01.16 09:03, Chris Angelico wrote:
>> Scenario: You're introducing someone to Python for the first time.
>> S/he may have some previous programming experience, or may be new to
>> the whole idea of giving a computer instructions. You have a couple of
>> minutes to show off how awesome Python is. What do you do?
>> I was thinking along the lines of a simple demo in the REPL, showing
>> off some of Python's coolest features. But then I got stuck on the
>> specifics. What are Python's best coolnesses? What makes for a good
>> demo?
>> Ideally, this should be something that can be demo'd quickly and
>> easily, and it should be impressive without going into great details
>> of "and see, this is how it works on the inside". So, how would you
>> brag about this language?
>If the person is already familiar with programming, you could show off how
>Python doesn't do a best effort guess at what to do when you make a mistake
>(explicit is better than implicit). Many other languages will, for example,
>make an undefined variable into a variable defined as an empty string or allow
>silly things like 5 + "cheese", whereas Python will let you know that you made
>a mistake somewhere instead of letting garbage propagate. This behavior can be
>frustrating for newbies to Python, but with someone there to explain why it
>works that way, they can learn to appreciate it instead of giving up in anger
>after Python keeps throwing exceptions at them.
>If the person is not familiar with programming, show them how easy it is to get
>something useful written quickly, even with only the stdlib

Completely agree! Find out that person's itch and make a that shows how problem-oriented the language is, with code that somewhat reads like regular English. REPL will also work, if you prepare it well enough. Ipython Notebook!

>Low-level details
>are handled so that you can focus on what you want the program to do, and there
>is a ton of stuff in the stdlib so that it's likely you don't need to go
>searching for a bunch of different libraries so that again, you can focus what
>you want the program to do. For this, chances are, that person has some things
>in mind already that are not difficult to get started with using Python. Also,
>using the REPL for this makes it an even better demo. You can probably have the
>basic functionality of whatever cool thing they want right there in the REPL.

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