Lambda the Ultimate

inactiveTopic Why did Python Grow?
started 11/9/2000; 4:19:28 AM - last post 11/11/2000; 2:35:57 PM
andrew cooke - Why did Python Grow?  blueArrow
11/9/2000; 4:19:28 AM (reads: 350, responses: 4)
Why did Python Grow?
elj is back with a bunch of good links. One that seemed relevant here was this post trying to explain why Python "passed" Tcl.

To my mind it doesn't put anything like enough emphasis on the way Python really fitted what a lot of people wanted - a clear, simple design with sufficient "modern" features (objects, GC, some form of closure) and traditional syntax. Tcl users don't seem to realise how scary Tcl's (lack of?) syntax is, while Perl users can't understand that simplicity is important. Now if only it had sensible scoping...

I think this is interesting because it looks at what makes a language successful: the post implies exposure is the key; my take is above; what do others think?
Posted to "" by andrew cooke on 11/9/00; 4:20:17 AM

Adam Vandenberg - Re: Why did Python Grow?  blueArrow
11/9/2000; 3:48:46 PM (reads: 326, responses: 0)
My reasons for learning Python more or less match up with what you mention above. Clean design, lets me do all the OO I want, very easy to read other people's Python.

I've never learned Tcl because it looks "too weird" to me.

And even though I've used Perl over and over, each time was like trying to learn it all over again. Special syntax. Hard to do complex data structures (ugh, reference slashes). Can't read Perl written by other people.

(Slightly sarcastic:) Maybe one reason for it taking off is that you no longer have to use Perl to be cool in the web scripting world?

andrew cooke - Re: Why did Python Grow?  blueArrow
11/10/2000; 12:18:06 AM (reads: 320, responses: 0)
Maybe we're just rationalising our use and the approach in the article is trying to describe how we came to hear of Python in the first place. I can remember hearing about it where I worked in 97/98, but can't remmeber when I first used it - maybe I'm a "post-boom" pythoner? :-)

andrew cooke - Re: Why did Python Grow?  blueArrow
11/10/2000; 3:30:48 PM (reads: 313, responses: 1)
This page, about half way down, refers to lambda - both this discussion and some earlier posting calling his Scheme article "fluff"...

Chris Rathman - Re: Why did Python Grow?  blueArrow
11/11/2000; 2:35:57 PM (reads: 350, responses: 0)
I keep forgetting that the Internet makes the world a smaller place. Guess I'll have to be more careful with my selection of words and phrases (I'm better at computer programming than I am with prose). I used the term 'fluff' lightheartedly, meaning that it was an article more about the state of Scheme than it was about Scheme itself. I've been spending quite a bit of what little free time I have emersed in Scheme of late, and though I found the article of interest in identifying some of the players, it's not something for those intensely into the subject at the moment.

I will note that Cameron Laird has been a busy man, publishing articles on Stackless Python for O'Reilly, Amorphous Computing in LinuxWorld, as well as coauthoring stuff in Regular Expressions on SunWorld (as well as stirring stuff up in UseNet). I particularly like the series he's doing in LinuxWorld and look forward to the next installments.

As for the question he raises in the ITWorld forum, I can't seem to log on at the moment, so I'll post a minor note here. The question is whether the RegExp column should dive into more detail into the languages and topics that are covered. I would say that he first needs to consider that there are three audiences for any particular scripting language he covers.

First is those who know next to nothing about the particular language. Although the reader may be quite adept at one or more language, any column that covers a wide variety of scripting languages, as RegExp covers, will find that on any particular column most of the readers are only trying to get a feel for what's "out there". For those from the outside looking in, the Scheme article was actually good at indicating the kind of people that use the language and the (moderate?) success the language has had over it's 25 years of existance.

Second group is those that are experts (or at least think they are experts) in the language being discussed. For this group, a column such as RegExp as only valuable if it focuses on a very narrow issue within the language. Trying to teach Scheme through a column is going to be rather difficult. But if you want to teach how Scheme handles one aspect, it's possible. Problem with the approach, though, is that the widest audiences are gonna be maybe a handful of languages. I suppose you could restrict the column to a couple and start doing a special interest column on each one. Although such angles are interesting, it can also lead to a column that has no interest outside of those within the particular language.

The final group of interest is the inside-looking-out group. That is, RegExp represents a voice of those within a wide variety of scripting languages to make a case of why they think has value and the relative merits of the language. The danger, of course, to this method is that you can end up trying to sell a language, instead of trying to critically analyze the pros and cons, given the tradeoffs in the language design. Of course, given that many people who congregate in the major programming languages have tunnel vision, I really don't think that is near as frustrating as trying to get people to analyze the language they currently use.

Of particular interest to Mr. Laird might be a recent Java Lobby discussion about scripting languages used in support of Java. I did make a post recommending the latest RegExp column which discusses four scripting languages for Java. Seems to me that some of the Java people are rather blind to the advantages of using scripting languages - seeing how they think Java is perfect, I suppose it's understandable.

Speaking of that RegExp column, the Slate language looks rather interesting. I was planning on posting a link to that and the RegExp article, but a bunch of the Slate links are broken and I couldn't quite find out what state the project is currently in. Any language that borrows heavily from Self and Beta, though, is bound to have some intriguing possibilities in terms of dynamic behavior.

Oh well, I've gone on too long. I'll leave it at that for the moment. :-)