Strengths and weaknesses of Python

a reply I wrote on quora.

Python is easy to learn and low ceremony. Both are pretty hard targets to hit. It also has great libraries for scientific work, for system scripting and for web development — and for most everything else. And it is pragmatic in a sense: It gets stuff done. And in a way which others can typically understand easily. Which is an even harder target to hit, especially with low ceremony languages. If you look for reasons, import this aka PEP 20 -- The Zen of Python is a good start.

Python has rightfully been called “Pseudocode which actually runs”. There’s often no need for pseudocode if you can show some Python.

However it has its weaknesses. Many here already talked about performance. I won’t go there, because you can fix most of that with cython, pypy and time (as the javascript engines in Browsers show which often get 50% of the speed of optimized C). What irks me are some limitations in its syntax which I begun to hit more and more about two years ago.

List comprehensions make actual code more complicated than simple examples, because you have kind of a dual syntax to it. And there is some ceremony in tools which were added later. For example this is the template I nowadays use to start a Python project: a minimal Python script — this could be part of the language so that I would not even need to put it into the script. But this is not how history works: It cannot break backwards compatibility (a fate which hits all useful and widespread programming languages). Also things like having to spell out the underscore names feel more and more strange to me. Therefore I started into Guile Scheme to see how different programming could be if I shed the constraints of Python. You can read my journey in py2guile: Going from Python to Guile Scheme - a natural progression (a free ebook).

Also see my other Python-articles on this site.

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