[Tutor] python vs VB

Martijn Faassen m.faassen@vet.uu.nl
Mon, 06 Sep 1999 18:33:53 +0200

Deirdre Saoirse wrote:
> On Sun, 5 Sep 1999, Hugh Marquis wrote:
> > I want to begin programming and both Python and VB have been suggested
> > as good first languages.  Although I realize you probably have some
> > biases could you comment on which might be better.
> A good programming language is ALWAYS portable. VB isn't.

I haven't worked with VB a lot, but:

With VB it's really easy to do what VB is designed for; primarily user
interfaces and working with databases. However, it's not so good if you
want to learn programming. VB doesn't separate the user interface from
the things the program actually does, which isn't a good programming
style. My impression is that you can whip up some program quite quickly,
but then maintaining it later is not fun.

Anyway, language-wise Python is a cleaner language than VB -- Python is
one of the nicest and cleanest programming languages I know. As far as I
know you can't program object orientedly with VB, either. So, Python
will probably teach you better programming practices (which is very
important later on).

And, while you don't create a graphical user interface as easily in
Python, Python does allow you to create *many* types of graphical user
interfaces -- for windows, for unix, for whatever you can come up with.
This is the same for everything you want to do with Python -- there's
more do it yourself, but there's a sea of possibilities. It doesn't tie
you down to only a single platform and a single set of solutions, like
VB does. Python talks to just about anything you can think of, and
people are constantly interfacing it with new systems.

Another important point is that Python is free (as in no charge and as
in open source). With VB, don't expect to get personal email from the
main VB developers. With Python, I did get emails from Guido once in a
while. :) In general, open source brings you a lot of freedom you won't
have with VB. This is part of the reason why people are able to
interface Python with so many things in the first place. And the Python
community is also a lot of fun.

> > Is Mark Lutz's book basic enough for a beginning programmer.
> Perhaps not, though we're trying to get another book going.

'Programming Python' isn't. 'Learning Python' (the new book by Mark Lutz
and David Ascher) isn't for people completely new to programming either
-- a friend of mine is trying to learn programming with it but she has
some difficulties (lots of terminology she isn't aware of is used
liberally in the book).

So, if you want to get some cool looking windows app (that may not
actually do much) going quickly, use VB. If you want to do anything
else, including making cool looking windows apps later on, use Python.