July 17, 2007

Misunderstandings

Here's a quote from an article about agile programming which is otherwise quite well-informed:
But because of their simplicity, languages such as Python and Ruby are better-suited to writing small applications.
This is the kind of myth that really needs to be squashed at the source. Unfortunately the source in this case is a journalist who has written an article and moved on with her misunderstanding of the issues and the facts completely untouched.

It's difficult to know how to attack this problem, because even the Python Software Foundation's advocacy coordinator were to contact the journalist in question and correct the mis-impression the damage is already done, and another opportunity to gain the wrong idea about dynamic languages is out there to be used as "evidence" by those looking to press the advantage of some other technique. It must have annoyed David Goodger (one of the Foundation's directors) to be quoted shortly after that misstatement.

In this particular case the author of the article did manage to get a lot right - technologies should come second to business needs, agile methods can save money by delivering business value faster and avoiding large amount of rework, and so on. So the content wasn't all bad, but the misunderstanding of Python's suitability for large projects spoiled it for me.

But then, I (and, I presume, most of thios blog's readers) already know that Python can be used successfully to build very large systems indeed.

5 comments:

john said...

Well the preception is misleading. But you know every cloud has a silver lining. For those of us that use Python and know its power regardless of project size, it gives us the edge. Hate to use the term but Python my just be the Trade Secret that good developers keep in thier back pocket.

And that ain't all bad!

Catherine said...

Hmm, they don't even seem to have a "comments" area. Drat.

The one drawback to becoming a Pythonista is the heartburn you get seeing common wisdom like this repeated.

In my experience, the larger a project is, the more important readability and organization becomes...

David Goodger said...

I certainly didn't give her *that* piece of misinformation. It must have come from another camp. Nor did I get a chance to check the article before publication.

And she misspelled my name (even though we'd exchanged email). Sloppy.

Paddy3118 said...

It seems as if she asks Kevin Schmidt from Sun a question about Java not being dynamic enough, then allows an answer on a different topic - Agile methodology.
Sloppy journalism.

- Paddy.

Anonymous said...

Well at least is true that languages like Python or Ruby are specially suited for small programs.

I mean they are as good (we'd say better) than Java and company at writing large applications, but they kick their behind into oblivion in the small applications department.

Looking at the glass half full of water, I'd say we have won half the battle.

What really amuses me is that they call python simple, when it is capable of grater code acrobatics (acodebatics?) than Visual Basic (.NET!!) where I feel restricted and limited.

Yet I have to admit that VB.NET is not at all simple, doing even the most basic things feels like fighting an octopus underwater in a cheesy 50's comic.

Python is simple and allows complex things, enterprisey languages are complex so they only allow simple things. That is my motto.