Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Fri, 31 Jan 2003
Prototyping / refactoring
I've noticed something since I've started using Eclipse -- I tend to refactor my code a lot as I understand it. Eclipse's refactoring tools take out a fair amount of the pain associated with using a language like Java for prototyping.

As I've started to play with Python, I find myself reliving some of my Lisp experience at MIT. I find the Python code to be very succint and easy to read -- I find that I don't mind the use of space / indentation as syntax. Since I indented my lisp code all over, so I find that I am not noticing this at all. The notation that python provides for lists and maps is one of the things that is making me very productive. The combination of list comprehensions and slice notation is very powerful and makes programs shorter. These two notions are things that Java could benefit from, but there's almost no chance that we'll see them, because Sun is so committed to not evolving Java the language. If Java had macros, we could implement some of this stuff nicely.

One thing I haven't yet gotten used to is the Python object system, which requires each method to have an explicit self parameter. Having used Lisp generic functions, this should be no big deal for me, but having worked mostly in in C++ and Java for the last 7 or 8 years has kind of braindamaged me. It'll probably take a little time to shake that out. Interestingly enough, David Mertz has implemented multimethod dispatch for Python. I haven't played with this, but it does provide another proof point for the saying that all languages are destined to reinvent Lisp badly.

Anyway, back to Eclipse and prototyping. I think that if the refactoring tools are taken far enough, and Java had a kind of macro language, I would be pretty happy. I'm back to using Emacs to edit python, which is fine. The only things I miss are integrated help / code completion and refactoring tools. Oh, and a reasonable interface to the debugger.

[22:27] | [computers/programming] | # | TB | F | G | 0 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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