Toxic Elephant

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Skipping Python for Ruby

Posted by matijs 18/01/2007 at 18h59

Without an e writes

Well, ruby just isn’t that much better than python. If I’m going to relearn everything, why would I bother with ruby? Why not just jump straight to lisp?

I can really appreciate this argument, since it resonates with my reasons for not learning Python: I knew Perl, and was doing most of my programming in it, making nicely structured, readable, object-oriented programs. To me, Python didn’t seem like such a big step forward: It’s like a Perl with enforced readability.

And then came Ruby.

My introduction to Ruby was not through Rails, but through reading the online version of the Pickaxe Book. After reading the first chapter, I was sold. Here was a language that truly embraced object-orientation, and gave access to all kinds of interesting abstractions that I had only vaguely heard of (such as coroutines). There also was a pleasant lack of boilerplate.

So to me, Ruby is that much better than Perl, whereas Python is not. I wouldn’t know if I agree that Ruby is not that much better than Python, but at least I can understand the argument. Ruby is certainly no Lisp, although it comes close.

So what’s next? Lisp’s features certainly look appealing, giving basically the pinnacle of power of abstraction, in exchange for slightly unappealing syntax. I believe the syntax can be overcome, so my next language to learn may well be a Lisp. Which Lisp is still an open question. On the other hand, there are interesting languages like Erlang, ML and the like.

[Incidentally, Without an e is the creator of Scarlet Lambda, which is roughly a web framework written in, or at least used with, a functional style of programming in Python, with a Lisp-like syntax. Wow.]

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