[Haskell-cafe] Python?

Graham Klyne GK at ninebynine.org
Wed May 11 05:17:06 EDT 2005

At 19:02 10/05/05 -0400, Daniel Carrera wrote:

>This might be a strange question to ask on a Haskell list, but I do want 
>to hear your opinions. What do you think of Python?

I think it's benefits are neatly summed up by this comment from Tim 
Berners-Lee, "Python is a language you can get into on one battery":
By the way... Python is cool.

I had lamented that it ws a long time since I had a practial hacking 
environment, and Dan Connolly suggested Python as something you could start 
quickly but which would scale to a large system. One day, 15 minutes before 
I had to leave for the airport, I got my laptop back out of my bag, and 
sucked off the web the python 1.6 system and the python tutorial, and a 
copy of a small notation3 parser Dan had hacked together. I was happy to 
find that Python is a language you can get into on one battery! I have been 
happily hacking ever since.

I remember Guido trying to persuade me to use python as I was trying to 
persuade him to write web software!
-- http://dev.w3.org/cvsweb/2000/10/swap/Overview.html?rev=1.20

I was using Python for much of my work before I came to Haskell.  It took 
me a long time to learn to use Haskell anything like effectively (partly, 
but not entirely, because I'd been corrupted by years of imperative 
programming).  I now choose Haskell for my work because its greater 
formality appeals to me for my desired applications, but I still use Python 
and would probably choose it for the kind of use you propose.

To be a "starter language", I think there needs to be some delineation 
between the simple, obvious concepts of functional programming and the more 
advanced notions that are needed to build programming frameworks.  (cf. my 
recent posting referring to a comment by Alan Kay and Smalltalk -- 

I do think that there's a strong role for functional programming for 
"non-professional" programmers, but I'm not sure that "raw" Haskell is 
it.  I think the Vital project (http://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/projects/vital/) 
is an interesting take (at the level of function rather than specifically 
the visual aspects) but (last time I looked) lacks IO capability.)


Graham Klyne
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