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chromatic (983)

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Saturday December 06, 2008
08:53 PM

A Very Modest Gloat, Historical Context Considered

[ #38041 ]

The Python core developers value the evolutionary approach, and don't tend to get carried away by ambitious projects like a massive revision of the language and interpreter infrastructure (Parrot).

Martijn Faassen, in a comment on Titus Brown's Perl is Dying?

If I'd spent eight and a three-quarters years designing and implementing a backwards-incompatible revision of a programming language (see Will Python 3000 Break My Code?, from February 2000 -- and that's not the earliest reference to Python 3000, either), I'd set my sights on goals slightly more ambitious than shuffling around the core library, changing the syntax slightly, and improving Unicode.

I'm not criticizing Python 3.0 by any means. It's a decent, modest improvement on a decent, modern language. Just don't mistake it for anything revolutionary, and don't pretend that it didn't also take almost a decade, even with Googlebucks-funded development.

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  • I know that people while promoting Python 3 like to say it took 9 years to create, but that's not really the case.

    While the idea of a Python 3k that would break backwards compatibility existed for years, it wasn't much more than an idea for a very, very long time. The actual python 3 development branch was created 2 years 8 months ago. I think serious design work didn't start more than a year before that if even that much. It certainly wasn't considered to be a real project until a few years ago.

    The really

    • It certainly wasn't considered to be a real project until a few years ago.

      Larry and I talked to Guido about it on the morning of October 12, 2003, and Guido had been talking about it long enough to have a stump speech and a stable slide deck for it by then. I was there. Denying that it's been in the works for almost nine years is historical revisionism. Don't tell me otherwise; I was there.

      I don't really care how long the project has existed in one form or another. Measured from first date of public m

      • Yeah, I was there too. And Python 3 wasn't a real project until 3 years ago.

        In my mind (but perhaps not in yours) Guido's wish to break backwards compatibility and actually starting a project to do so are two quite different things. Guido has had the dream of Python 3.0 for a very long time. I was there to hear him talk about it year after year since the year 2000.

        You can look Guido's slides from those times and make a determination yourself: []

        In 2003 Guido was talking on

        • Since I can't leave this alone, here's a posting on Python 3000 from 2003 from a Python insider:


          (considering Python 3 dead at that time)

          Here's Guido's post where he announces that "We've started discussing Python 3000 for real" (from april 2006):


          There is no doubt that the idea of a Python 3 had existed for much longer, so your interpretation as a 9 year old project still stands if you want to.

          • I'd say I can make a good case for a much younger project.

            I say judging volunteer-driven projects by calendar dates is silly, if not disingenuous. If Perl 6 and Python 3.0 really need comparisons, let's compare scope and resource allocation.

            • So to summarize:

              You're calling me a historical revisionist and/or ignorant after I politely pointed out my differing perspective on the history behind Python 3 development (and yes, I was there too).

              I don't believe I'm a historical revisionist or ignorant. So I explain where my perspective is coming from by giving some actual historical data, discussing contents of slides and postings over time.

              Now you're calling me silly, if not disingenuous, suggesting I judge the projects by calendar dates. Right?

              I don't

              • I must've ticked you off by my original comment that you quote.

                Implying that Perl 6 is poorly managed and overly ambitious, and agreeing with Titus that there's no roadmap for Perl 6 certainly did not endear your comments to me. How did you intend people to read that, other than "Despite the Python world having talked about Python 3000 for several years and working on in for three years and producing necessary but modest results, we're better than those Perl 6 jokers!"

                All I'm saying is let's make the com

                • Point taken. My apologies. Stupid, but I hadn't realized that this had set this off. I shall be more thoughtful next time I say something about Perl 6 (which is below).

                  Small point: I am not a Python core developer, so I don't believe *we* did better. In fact I was ineptly trying to be positive towards the Python core developers as I had quite a run-in with some of them criticizing Python 3 last year. I also don't think you're jokers. I piss off all language developers equally. :)

                  Another small point: I didn'