Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Tue, 24 Aug 2004
Platforms for dynamic languages
There were lots of comments on yesterday's post on dynamic languages. I was trying to look at the implications for Python if either Sun or Microsoft decided to put large amounts of resources into changing the language in some way.

I've grown to like Python, although the thing that I like the most about Python was a bit of a surprise to me. I look at dynamic languages through the prism of Lisp and Smalltalk, with an emphasis on the Lisp side. Like many Lisp people, I like the simplicity and regularity of the s-expression syntax, and the fact that the syntax facilitates powerful macros. I was disappointed when Apple switched Dylan from a s-expression syntax to a Pascal like syntax. Sometime in 1998 a friend showed me a book on Python, and I, like many others, recoiled from the indentation based syntax without ever using it. My opinions on this have changed as I've had a chance to work with Python. I find it very easy to write, as well as easy to read.

However, there are places where I don't agree with decisions that have been made. Lack of a conscise notation for dealing with closures, rejection of proper tail call semantics, no support for continuations, no macro system, and no way to do optional type declarations (although this is slated for Python 3000, whenever that is).

While I like Python and prefer it to most of the languages that have reasonable sized communities, I am definitely still searching for a home. There are lots of folks experimenting with ideas out there, Groovy, Boo (which looks interesting except for the required static typing -- I'm interested in how they handle macros), and others. In the meantime, if the JVM and CLR push each other to include better support for dynamic languages, I'll be happy.

[00:06] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 16 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post

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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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