Monday, January 14, 2008

In The Beginning

This is the story of how I started using python.

Out of college I was a well indoctrinated C++ guy. My resume had silly goals on it like "desires to work at a CMM level 3 or higher organization." It was the mid 90s so I ended up working at a C++ based dot com instead (Musicblvd and later CDNow). I left two years later with my youthful enthusiasm for the "correct way" way stripped. It was now the late 90s and my next job was working at a Perl based dot com in Boston (OpenAir). Things were just so much easier with Perl. And everything was different: OpenAir didn't have a single machine that cost over $5k whereas Musicblvd had more than one that cost over $1Mil (a fully loaded E10k ran the database*). Release cycles were monthly instead of annually. Everything was so plainly better and more productive it wasn't even funny. I was no longer a C++ guy.

So when I quit during the bust in 2001 to start my own company I wanted to use perl. I was afraid to for legal reasons so I started casting around for another "P" language. We did the prototype in PHP. The prototype worked but the code was ugly and slow. Python had some buzz so I downloaded that and translated our small app from PHP to Python. The resulting code was a third smaller, easier to read, and ran faster. If that wasn't enough the C guy in me loved the Python core. Compared to Perl and PHP the Python core was simple, clean, and without much baggage. I was sold.

It is many years later and I'm still happy with Python. I have even added one new feature to python (class decorators) and of course, one bug too.

* and that 256 processor Sun wasn't infallible. When it crashed (which it did) Sun helicoptered in tech support and basically paid us off not to talk about it.

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