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Why I Love Python
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Why I Love Python


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I love Python, but I didn't make this. It was created by someone named Bruce.

I love Python, but I didn't make this. It was created by someone named Bruce.

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  • 1. Why I Love Python © 2001 Bruce Eckel MindView, Inc. Training & Consulting 5343 Valle Vista La Mesa, CA 91941 [email_address]
  • 2.
    • The language you speak affects what you can think
    • Python is what I use the most to solve my own problems (I think better)
      • Including CGI/e-commerce with MySQL
    • 5-10 times productivity (really!)
    • I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain “why” to people
    • Top 10 reasons I’ve come up with
    • And a few other interesting topics
  • 3. What I love most: Python is about ME
    • As if Guido said: “Bruce, what can we do to make your programming experience as easy as possible?”
    • No compromises: it’s all about making me more productive
  • 4. My Language History
    • Age 13: BASIC on HP1000 (HOSRAC.BAS is invented)
    • Age 19: APL for physics. The concept of a "terse language".
    • Basic again, survey courses, Pascal et al.
    • Age 21: Computer engineering, Chips + assembly language
    • Age 22: I begin to understand the value of high-level languages
    • Age 24: Database programming AppleII Basic
  • 5.
    • Age 25: Graduate (finally) with MS, discover C, work in embedded programming (in assembly).
      • I am my own C compiler
    • Age 26: Basic (again) for data analysis and control of wind-tunnel experiments
    • Age 27: Embedded C development. Program 4-bit Harvard architecture machine in assembly.
      • Wrote Assembler in GNU-Lisp. Created (?) primitive C++ mode for Gnu-emacs
      • Start writing for Micro Cornucopia
    • Age 29: University of Washington School of Oceanography with Tom Keffer.
      • Chose C++ over Objective-C for openness.
      • Published “Computer Interfacing with Pascal & C”
  • 6.
    • Age 32: Publish “Using C++”
      • Join ANSI C++ Committee
    • Later: “C++ Inside & Out”, “Black-Belt C++” (edited), “Thinking in C++”
    • Java: “easy translation from C++”
      • Actually took two years
    • Thinking in Python
      • Research mode now, web page with notes at
      • The other books and languages wrapped around me like Jacob Marley’s chains…
  • 7. A ‘Bout’ of Perl
    • After C++ and Java, seemed amazing
    • Python is executable pseudocode. Perl is executable line noise.
    • Perl is like vice grips. You can do anything with it, and it's the wrong tool for every job
      • Leaves teeth marks everywhere
    • Perl is worse than Python because people wanted it worse. Larry Wall, 14 Oct 1998
    • I would actively encourage my competition to use Perl. Sean True, 30 Mar 1999
  • 8. Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Python
  • 9. 10. Reduced Clutter
    • Programs are read more than they are written
    • XP: Consistent formatting really is important
      • Readability and compactness
      • Part of “conservation of complexity”
    • Consistent use of programming idioms improves understandability
      • Rapid understanding
      • The opposite of “more than one way to do it”
  • 10. 9. It’s not backward-compatible in exchange for pain
    • C++: Backward compatible with C – its strength and its bane
    • Java: more or less with C++ syntax (not too bad, but a lot of typing)
    • Perl: compatible with every hacky syntax of every Unix tool ever invented
    • C# and .NET: backward compatible with previous Microsoft marketing campaigns
    • Javascript: not even compatible with itself
  • 11. 8. It doesn’t value performance over my productivity
    • C++: can’t let go of C performance
      • Better than C, sure, but still takes forever to get something working; memory leaks are almost impossible to design out
    • Java: Primitive types require awkward coding (primitives “necessary” for speed)
      • As opposed to Python: everything is an object; escape mechanism (extension) for speed
  • 12. 7. It doesn’t treat me like I’m stupid
    • “Operator overloading is bad because you can make ugly code with it”
    • “finalize( ) does something”
    • “We reviewed Java designs before putting them into the language”
    • “Java has an open development process”
  • 13. 6. I don’t wait forever for a full implementation of the language
    • Some features we invented in the C++ committee are still not implemented
      • Unused features don’t get tested; circular problem
    • Many C++ vendors say “it’s hard, and no one’s asking for it.”
  • 14. 5. It doesn’t make assumptions about how we discover errors
    • Is strong static type checking really the only way to be sure?
      • Lack of good static typing in pre-ANSI C was certainly heaps of trouble
      • Doesn’t mean it’s the best solution
      • (More about this later)
    • Errors discovered with real data seem to me to be the hardest to find
  • 15. 4. Marketing people are not involved
    • “Java is flawless”
    • Microsoft “Visual” “C++”
      • Microsoft happens
    • Of course, Python isn’t immune
  • 16. 3. I don’t have to type so much
    • … And I don’t have to wade through so much code when I’m reading
    • Conservation of complexity: simplicity really does make a difference
    • But the right typing
      • Not obscure like APL
      • Not endlessly inventive like Perl or FORTH
  • 17. 2. My guesses are usually right
    • I still have to look up how to open a file every time I do it in Java
    • In fact, most things in Java require me to look something up
    • I can remember many Python idioms because they’re simpler
    • One more reason I program faster
  • 18. 1. Python lets me focus on concepts
    • No stumbling through Java designs, fighting with C++ compilations or run-time bugs.
  • 19. Python and “The Tipping Point”
    • Email: possible to carry on dozens of conversations by paper mail, but you don’t.
    • Automating Everything:
      • Possible to write programs to automate every task. But you don’t.
      • Python makes it easy enough
      • Great with Gnu make (my CD build system)
  • 20. Weak typing
    • Only constraints on an object that is passed into a function are that the function can apply its operations to that object
    def sum(arg1, arg2): return arg1 + arg2 print sum(42, 47) print sum('spam', 'eggs')
    • “ Weak” sounds bad
  • 21. Weak Typing in C++: Templates
    • #include <string>
    • #include <iostream>
    • using namespace std;
    • template<class A, class B, class R>
    • R sum(A a, B b) {
    • return a + b;
    • }
    • int main() {
    • string a(&quot;one&quot;), b(&quot;two&quot;)
    • cout << sum<string, string, string>(a, b) << endl;
    • cout << sum<int, int, int>(1, 2) << endl;
    • }
  • 22. Weak Typing in Java
    • Reflection, possibly with interfaces
  • 23. interface addable { Object add(Object b);} class X implements addable { public Object add(Object b) { return new Object(); // Test } } class AddableNotFoundException extends Exception {} public class WeakTyping { public static Object sum(Object a, Object b) throws AddableNotFoundException { Class[] intfs = a.getClass().getInterfaces(); for(int i = 0; i < intfs.length; i++) if(intfs[i] == addable.class) return ((addable)a).add(b); throw new AddableNotFoundException(); } public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception { X a = new X(); X b = new X(); Object c = sum(a, b); } }
  • 24. Why weak typing isn't weak
    • Upcasting becomes meaningless
    • You write what you want to do, let Python worry about how
    • Argument against weak typing: “errors won’t be found”
      • Like in pre-ANSI C (had no rules)
    • As long as rules are enforced sometime , you’ll find the errors
      • Heresy: run-time is better than compile time
  • 25. Performance issues
    • Machine performance vs. Programmer Performance
    • Most of the time, which is really more important?
    • C++ is naturally faster -- or is it?
      • with IOStreams, not always
  • 26. Future Impact
    • Programmer productivity is the most important thing
      • Python excels at rapid creation of maintainable code
    • To increase performance, throw hardware at the problem
      • Multiprocessor machines & stackless
      • Seems like an important direction, even to the point of justifying core language changes
  • 27. Other Languages
    • C# bores me. Removes the interesting/useful features of both Java & C++. I’d use one of those languages first.
    • Ruby. I’ll wait and see, but my impression is that it doesn’t do more for me than Python (or not more enough).
  • 28.
    • On the New Zealand bike trip, Bill Venners & I decided it would be a good idea to host technically-themed bike tours
      • Run by a professional company with all the amenities, the “sag wagon” etc.
    • We thought a Python-themed trip might be an interesting beginning
      • Grand Tetons? Send email if interested
  • 29. Life is Short (You Need Python) OR: No Warrantee Not Fit for Any Particular Purpose (You Need Python)