Posts Tagged ‘work’

The Sun is going to shine on Python

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Today is my first day as a Sun employee.


Tim Bray was one of the first people to respond to my “looking for a job” blog post. I have not written about it much, but I’ve been very impressed with how Sun has handled the JRuby project. Tim told me that Sun was interested in ramping up their support for Python in a similar fashion, and asked if I would be interested in coming to Sun to lead such an effort.


After a bunch of talking and interviewing and so forth, it turns out that I was very interested. Long time readers know that I am a dynamic languages guy, going back to the original dynamic language, Lisp. I spent 2.75 of the last 4 years at OSAF working on a big desktop application written in Python (Contrary to some recent blog posts, Python was not a factor in the difficulties that we had with Chandler). The prospect of doing something that would help Python was very attractive. However, Sun has been slow to embrace dynamic languages (whether atop the JVM or not), and Sun’s history in open source has been somewhat checkered in my view. So there were some questions that I had to answer for myself before deciding to go to Sun (especially since I had 3 other very good options):

1. Can Sun actually work with an open source community?

It’s no secret that I have not been a fan of Sun’s handling of the open sourcing of Java, and it seems like OpenSolaris is having some governance problems of its own at the moment. However, if you look at the way that JRuby has been handled, you’ll see that there are parts of Sun that are learning how to work with a community, and doing a very good job of it. Sun hired two of the leading JRuby contributors and gave them license to keep doing what they had been doing. The JRuby guys have been well received by the “C” Ruby community and even the CLR/.NET Ruby community. In addition Sun has been investing in Ruby via support in NetBeans and via some collaborations with the University of Tokyo on the C VM for Ruby. Over the years, I’ve met many people at Sun who understand a collaborative development style. Many of those folks are committers on Apache projects.

2. How serious is Sun about dynamic languages and how deep does that support go?

Sun is (finally?) very serious about this. As part of Sun’s new direction, Sun wants to give developers the ability to use whatever tool sets they want. Ruby, Python, PHP, Java. On or off OpenSolaris. On or off the JVM. There is an official project, John Rose’s DaVinci Machine project, to modify the JVM to support dynamic languages. As far as Python goes, Frank Wierzbicki, the maintainer of Jython, started at Sun last Monday, so there will be at least two of us working on Python related stuff. That includes Jython, Python support for Netbeans, and some other stuff that we haven’t quite figured out yet. We definitely will be looking for things that we can do to support CPython and the Python language as a whole. This is not just about Python on on the JVM. Sun will try to make its platforms, OpenSolaris and the JVM, the best place to develop and deploy Python applications. But at the moment that’s a goal and not a reality, so there is lots to do.

What’s Next?

Frank and I will be at PyCon in Chicago in a week or so. One of my goals (besides hooking back up with people since I missed PyCon last year) will be to sit down and talk to anyone who has ideas about sensible things that Sun could do to help Python. In the mean time, my e-mail address will be <FirstName>.<LastName>

Oh, one more thing. My new job title is “Principal Engineer, Dynamic Languages and Tools”, so expect to see me dinking around with other dynamic language stuff as well.

My thanks to Tim Bray for helping to make this happen.

It looks like it’s going to take a little longer to get my e-mail address fully operational…
Update 2:
Ok, e-mail is set and ready to go.