Why I'm optimistic about IronPython

by Jeremy Jones

I really don't think I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, but you can decide for yourself.

I recently blogged about my fear that Microsoft could harm Python by promoting it as merely a scripting and dynamic language. I stick by what I said. But let's look at the flip side and see what good IronPython can bring to Python in spite of what I consider misguided marketing.

1) It is open. Anyone interested can poke around and see how it was put together. And knowledge is power. And failing that, I'm sure it'll be a positive mental exercise.

2) It is a re-implementation of Python. I don't know if there has been much communication between the CPython folks and the IronPython folks, but anyone can look and see how the IronPyton folks did it. And, the CPython folks can build upon the ideas used in the creation of FePy...as long as they're careful and don't violate any licenses.

3) It could enlarge the userbase of Python. Granted, it may only be in the form of folks needing to create extended macros in Word. But on the upside again, Python does have a viral effect on people. Meaning, folks who would never have programmed before may find themselves writing simple little programs to do simple little things and then find themselves wanting to take things to the next level.

4) Some in the geek community will invariabley use IronPython to its full benefit. While we're not totally impervious to bad marketing, some geeks will always use products in excellent ways regardless of how they were marketed. And again, the viral effect of Python will (hopefully) kick in and spread.

To sum up, I'm concerned that Microsoft's marketing may have ill effects on Python, but I think that IronPython itself will benefit the Python community.

6 Comments

mpeters
2005-12-12 08:34:53
sometimes an expanded base isn't a good thing
Just commenting on point #3. Perl has suffered through just such a scenario. When the web exploded, everyone who had anything to do with computers was building dynamic web pages. So there was a lot of code written but sysadmins, graphic artists and other non-programmers.


Part of Perl's reputation as a 'read-only' language can be directly attributed to this bad code written by people who didn't know any better.


Will lots of bad python code do the same thing for python?
webmaven
2005-12-12 09:46:50
sometimes an expanded base isn't a good thing
"Will lots of bad python code do the same thing for python?"


It could, but it is worth noting that it's harder to write bad python code. Python code is naturally very legible, and isn't called 'executable pseudocode' for nothing.

chromatic
2005-12-12 10:26:25
sometimes an expanded base isn't a good thing
Exactly which parts of Python prevent people from writing repetitive code and over-long functions or from choosing irrelevant or misleading symbol names?


Bad code with good indentation is still bad code.

Paddy3118
2005-12-16 11:45:37
sometimes an expanded base isn't a good thing

> Exactly which parts of Python prevent people from writing repetitive code and over-long functions or from choosing irrelevant or misleading symbol names?


import this


;-)

anthonytarlano
2005-12-16 15:00:34
Bad Marketing?
What part of Microsoft has bad marketing? I would argue that their marketing, whether MSDN, CH9 or conference sponsorship, is second to none.


In fact, I would go so far as to say that the only thing wrong with Microsoft's marketing is the never ending chorus of bigots that always attacks them which is out of their hands.


Microsoft once again has implemented a technology that they beleive will benefit developers, which in this case is python. You can be assured that by Microsoft selecting to use the Python language as their OO dynamic language it will only add python developers to the overall community, percisely because of their marketing.

jmjones
2005-12-17 12:40:53
Bad Marketing?
The "bad marketing" reference was an allusion to my blog entry on "Can Microsoft Kill Python". I see their marketing as bad because they seem to only be promoting Python as a scripting or dynamic language. While it's both, I think that overemphasizing those characteristics without mentioning its other qualities that make it suitable for general application development is "bad marketing". I don't think they're evil for doing this. I just don't think they're willing to promote a non-MS language as a language which is suitable for general purpose application development.