[16]python: routine^complex tasks #XR

XR,

Further to our discussion, I used perl for many years. 95% of my perl tasks are routine tasks. With py, I would say “majority” of my tasks are routine tasks i.e. solutions are easy to find on-line.

  • routine tasks include automated testing, shell-script replacement, text file processing, query XML, query various data stores, query via http post/get, small-scale code generation, simple tcp client/server.
  • For “Complex tasks” , at least some part of it is tricky and not easily solved by Googling. Routine reflection / concurrency / c++Integration / importation … are documented widely, with sample code, but these techniques can be pushed to the limit.
    •  Even if we just use these techniques as documented, but we combine them in unusual ways, then Google search will not be enough.
    • Beware — decorators , meta-programming, polymorphism, on-the-fly code-generation, serialization, remote procedure call … all rely on reflection.

When you say py is not as easy as xxx and takes several years to learn, I think you referred to complex tasks.

It’s quite impressive to see that some powerful and useful functionalities can be easily implemented by following online tutorials. By definition these are routine tasks. One example that jump out at me is reflection in any language. Python reflection can be powerful like a power drill to break a stone wall. Without such a power drill the technical challenge can look daunting. I guess metaclass is one such power drill. Decorator is a power drill I used in %%logging decorator with optional args

I can see a few reasons why managers choose py over java for certain tasks. I heard there are a few jvm-based scripting languages (scala, groovy, clojure, jython …) but I guess python beats them on several fronts including more packages (i.e. wheels) and more mature, more complete and proven solutions, familiarity, reliability + wider user base.

One common argument to prefer any scripting language over any compiled language is faster development. True for routine tasks. For complex tasks, “your mileage may vary”. As I said, if the software system requirement is inherently complex, then implementation in any language will be complex. When the task is complex, I actually prefer more verbose source code — possibly more transparent and less “opaque”.

Quartz is one example of a big opaque system for a complex task. If you want, I can describe some of the complex tasks (in py) I have come across though I don’t have the level of insight that some colleagues have.

When you said the python debugger was less useful to you than java debugger, it’s a sign of java’s transparency. My “favorite” opaque parts of py are module import and reflection.

If any language has excellent performance/stability + good on-line resources [1] + reasonable library of components comparable to the mature languages like Java/c++, then I feel sooner or later it will catch on. I feel python doesn’t have exactly the performance. In contrast, I think php and javascript can achieve very high performance in their respective usage domains.

[1] documentation is nice-to-have but not sufficient. Many programmers don’t have time to read documentation in-depth.

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