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Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come

117 replies on 8 pages. Most recent reply: Jun 15, 2007 5:29 AM by Ian Ozsvald

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James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 12:11 PM
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Guido, I don't know how involved you are with Jython but I just made my first foray into Python via Jython and I am pretty excited about the possiblities. I'm sure I am not alone in having lots of Java libraries and the (apparently) seamless integration with Jython is a huge selling point. I almost want to say that Jython should be be the star of the show but I'm sure that won't be a popular view.

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 12:25 PM
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Reading the comments to this weblog I notice again that it's almost hopeless to discuss this issue in a tech forum because techies tend to think that good technology sells itself. Therefore the only stragey to convince senior technologists and decision makers seems to be making arrogant assertions.

For those few who grewn up intellectually and left their juvenile prejudices behind or those who are going to mature right now I always recommend Richard Gabriels "Patterns of Software" that contains a few chapters where Gabriel narrates the story of the up and down of "Lucid", a Lisp company founded by himself in the 80s. No, it's neither cynical towards SW industry nor lamoryant, but insightfull. The book is available for free from Gabriels homepage [1].

Ruby and RoR are no exceptions. RoR is technology as Pop as was Java before. Python isn't and it can't be because it doesn't understand it. Compare for example the RoR homepage [2] with the latest attempt to redesign Pythons homepage that is not yet official [3]. Obviously the new Python homepage wants to sell Python quite aggressively, like a fanatist his bible, while RoR simply knows that it is good, practical and helpfull. Without making much words it lets the page visitor participate on good feelings. The Python page is the result of letting people with restricted minds making sites and selling things. I don't mean "restricted" in the sense of a lack of technical cleverness - the only language the slashdot mob does understand - but the soft aspect that is sometimes also called communication.


Jerry F

Posts: 4
Nickname: jefe59
Registered: Mar, 2006

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 1:45 PM
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If I were a "marketing guy" (which I admittedly am not), I'd define which segments you want to go after, identify who the competition is, and build a strategy around each. (Steve Ballmer jumping up and down shouting "DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS" comes to mind, sorry.) Here are some ideas:

First, some target markets (granted, there is overlap between these):

- Web Developers
- The Slashdot crowd
- College-aged elite hackers
- The Web 2.0 crowd
- New to programming (high school kids)
- Sys admins and MCSE's
- Microsoft Office Power Users
- Old Hacks (QBasic or C guys)

Which market do you want to go after? I'm sure I overlooked some. But the key is, you can't be all things to all people. So I believe it's important to pick a market or three, and really focus on those. Certain markets will contain technology leaders, and will tend to pull the other markets along.

I am a huge (but new) Python fan, and I think Python is losing on a lot of fronts. Not from lack of results, but from lack of an effective Marketing Message.

Java vs Python: 1-0
Remember when Java got hot (no pun intended), and was being touted as the Language of the Web by Scott McNealy (early/mid 90's). As an HP rep, I watched IT departments buy tons of Sun gear, mostly based on buzz words and reputation. A lot of IT decision makers didn't know Sun from a black hole, but they knew the Internet was hot, and they better throw money at it. Sun really benefited from this, God bless 'em.

Whether you believe the O'Reilly "Web 2.0" hype or not, a bunch of money is going to be chasing new technologies, and there's a wave that Python can ride, right there. ( ). You just need to be "the language of Web 2.0" (and substantiate it in some way with results).

More random thoughts:

The Python community needs to publicize its successes. What turned me onto Python? Aside from my desire to learn something new and a dislike for the Microsoft language direction, there were three things:

1) noticing a trend that certain high-growth tech companies were very interested in Python (Google for one),
2) noticing a trend that some great, HOT software was written in Python (bittorrent was the final straw), and
3) noticing the sheer quantity of Python projects on Sourceforge (4859 as I write this).

Ruby vs Python: 1-0
I was talking with a friend, a talented programmer whom I highly respect for his abilities to learn the right new things, and told him I was getting into Python. He commented that he evaluated Python, and decided to learn Ruby instead. My respect for him really made me question MY decision. I asked him why, and his response was that the Python community seems far too pretentious. (Don't shoot the messenger here!) I think the acedemic (grad-level) background and approach of many Python gurus throws off the radical hacker who wants to dabble and learn. What looks to me like thorough documentation (detailed syntax descriptions) comes across to others as pretentious.

Java vs Python: 2-0
My son is preparing to take Java in high school - 10th grader. I asked the administration why not Python. Why Java? Java is the only language offered, at one of the most prestigious, challenging, college-prep schools in the city. Why? Because Java is on the AP (Advanced Placement) tests, and used to judge the skills for colleges. If you want to win over the students, you need to win over the teachers, and that means you need to win over the AP testing group.

Ruby vs. Python: 2-0
If you want to win over the web developers, the community needs to tout some examples of the latest awesome website which were developed in Python. And there needs to be a framework (sigh. maybe even a video) showing how easy it is. Does Youtube use Python? Or Digg? or Orkut? Or some other hot website on the rise? If so, tout it. If not, ask why not?

Java +18K, Python +5K, Ruby +1K
Regarding the Slashdot crowd, this is a mixed bag of users. A good source of religious wars there! With words alone, you will never sway the group who swear by {braces} and swear at forced indents. The proof is in the examples: Google, Bittorrent, 4859 projects on Sourceforge, the next great web startup, etc.

Ruby +1
Regarding the experimental hacker, you can convert someone fast with the right tutorials. The tutorials on are great, but Ruby has a no-download web page to learn and play in Ruby. If there were a web site that just let you play and do some beginner stuff (with a few cool advanced hacks), no-download-required, that would convert many. (There may be one of these, I don't know.) See

I think that there are a whole group of potential users out there that would be converted, if they could see the ease and power of the scripting for normal system admin functions. Windows (or Linux) sys admins can do quick and easy text file manipulation and automate a boatload of tasks. If there was a popular toolkit of automations, maybe they'd see the light.

Ruby +1
No offense intended, but the current website is content rich but ugly. I think you'd be amazed with what a simple face lift would achieve. If I'm a web developer, looking to learn something new that will help me, and I look at vs., I'd steer clear of Python. "Python can't be a very good web language if their own site looks like this." Purely a comment on the asthetics. (Once again, don't shoot the messenger.)

A couple of immediate action ideas:

- Short of spamming Sourceforge, start publishing on sourceforge EVERY worthwhile Python program that you are willing to "open source". We could get that 4850 number to exceed 10,000, and people will take note. And when you post it to sourceforge, list Python as the only language - so that if someone, like me, does a quick check of the language page, it shows up with even better numbers ( ).

- Solicit volunteer graphical people to upgrade, and make that thing shine. I'd challenge the Django team, and the Turbogears team to rebuild with a face lift, demonstrating their toolset (and show us the backend!)

- Perhaps the Python wiki could host a list of the largest successes of Python. Maybe that's there already. But with every post to slashdot, every conversation about Python we could include a link to that page.

- Someone start working with the AP team (Advanced Placement), to preach how requiring a proprietary language is not in our best interest. At least have an option of Python vs. Java.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I'm sure I am very wrong in some of what I say. FYI, my background, an old hobbyist programmer (did it professionally in the 70's and early 80's). Own a small (million dollar) web app company for 10 years. We use ASP and 100% Microsoft, but I'd love to switch the team to Python if I could sell the team on it and still make a few bucks!

Fredrik Lundh

Posts: 16
Nickname: effbot
Registered: Mar, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 1:47 PM
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Hear, hear!

Fredrik Lundh

Posts: 16
Nickname: effbot
Registered: Mar, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 1:50 PM
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(to both Kay and Jesse)

Jerry F

Posts: 4
Nickname: jefe59
Registered: Mar, 2006

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 1:55 PM
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I just saw

Wow, I requested an upgrade to the website, and you guys cranked it out THAT fast! You should brag about that!

Turn it on!!!


Fredrik Lundh

Posts: 16
Nickname: effbot
Registered: Mar, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 2:05 PM
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(as for comparisions, it's a bit more relevant to compare to, say, and or perhaps and And then, compare and to Spot the pattern?)

Lutz Pälike

Posts: 2
Nickname: tremolo
Registered: Mar, 2006

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 3:26 PM
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At Pycon 2005 i met Raymond Hettinger and he astonished me with the fact that he is actually a professional photographer and shoots photos of models for booking agencies for a living. (When he showed me some barely dressed beautiful women i knew i have the wrong job).

He told me he is thinking about doing some high class photos for commercials to advertise Python.
Something like some models posing with a real python snake.
Ok granted we had some beer at that point but hey why not?
I liked that idea ;)

Maybe it's a good idea to start a marketing campaign and to put some advertisements into programming magazines.
The Mozilla team did a great job with the "Spread Firefox" campaign and placed ads in all the big newspapers around the world. Firefox definetly got some good publicity by the campaign and also by articles reporting about the campaign.

It's all about getting some momentum and after that quality sells.

Isaac Gouy

Posts: 527
Nickname: igouy
Registered: Jul, 2003

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 3:28 PM
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> How does one translate something like this into Ruby?
> for f in filter(lambda f: f(-1)>=f(1),
> [lambda x:x, lambda x:x**2, lambda
> a x:x**2, lambda x:x**3]):
> for x in range(-10, 11):
> print x, f(x)

Code snippets are such fun!
Who would have imagined in C# 3.0
foreach (var f in 
new Func<int,int>[]{x => x, x => x*x, x => x*x*x }
.Where(g => g(-1)>=g(1)) )

foreach (var x in Sequence.Range(-10,21))
Console.WriteLine("{0} {1}",x,f(x));

Old habits die hard, so more likely
foreach (var f in 
new Func<int,int>[]{x => x, x => x*x, x => x*x*x }
.Where(g => g(-1)>=g(1)) )

for (var x=-10; x<11; x++)
Console.WriteLine("{0} {1}",x,f(x));

Fredrik Lundh

Posts: 16
Nickname: effbot
Registered: Mar, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 3:45 PM
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"ads in all the big newspapers around the world"

If one is to believe

Mozilla's marketing budget might a little bit bigger than the PSF budget.

Red Gem

Posts: 3
Nickname: redgem
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 3:49 PM
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So what's the worry? Why are you so obsessed with the recent success of the 'R' language?

Some of us prefer Ruby (there I said it, hope it didn't scare you too much) and others prefer Python. That's the way the world works. I don't like Python's indentation as syntax and you don't like Ruby's lack of it. I don't like the Python community's "There's only one True way!" philosophy and you don't like Ruby's "There are many ways you can approach a problem" philosophy. You say tomato, I say tahmahtoh... Let's live and let live. You go on using Python and I'll go on using Ruby. We'll both get our work done.

I don't believe that Python is losing users to Ruby, however, at this point it's probably true that more Perl refugees are going in the Ruby dierection than in the Python direction. Really, Python has lots more apps than Ruby does at this point. Yes, Rails has helped attract lots of people to Ruby in the last year, but I also think that you Python folks have plenty of apps out there that the Ruby folks are envious of.

Paddy McCarthy

Posts: 12
Nickname: paddy3118
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 4:25 PM
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Push Pythons strengths
- Its readable
- It scales well
- It is easy to learn
- batteries included.
- Doc-strings!
- Its easy to maintain
- It realy is high level.
- No gotos.
- Real functions with real arguments.
- No reference gymnastics.
- "Reads like pseudo-code".
- Doesn't get in the way. Often the goal isn't to code,
its to get something done and Pythons powerful simplicity
gives you space to remember all the other things needed
to finish a task, that are not programming.

How would you code example 2 in another language:


S. Fanchiotti

Posts: 10
Nickname: impatient
Registered: Nov, 2003

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 4:39 PM
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You missed this one:

Jeff Lewis

Posts: 2
Nickname: jlburly
Registered: Jan, 2006

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 8:52 PM
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In the past decade, java rose to become a significant language for database-driven web applications in the corporate world for a number of reasons (rightly or wrongly), including (primarily because of?) the portability of the servlet and jdbc apis compared to the alternatives that were available at the beginning of that rise.

It seems that this wave is cresting (has crested?), for various reasons, including java's increasing heavy-weightness in the web app arena, and a lot of those java folks, and the corp's that hire out for such development, are looking around at alternatives (see Bruce Tate and others). I think this is one of the (biggest?) contributing factors in the current rise in popularity/hype of RoR, and subsequently ruby.

I'm in this boat myself, at least where it concerns my paid java work. I'm currently in the process of porting my java-based tools/frameworks to ruby and python (and ?), as well as getting up to speed on RoR and the various python web frameworks, with the hope of being prepared for the next wave, since I don't really see db-driven web apps declining in popularity in the near future, especially for general business apps in the corp world. The portability inherent in the servlet and jdbc apis has been a big factor in most of my paid java work, where the development platform (os, webserver/servlet-engine, db) has usually differed from deployment platform, as well as aiding in preventing 'vendor lock-in'.

I doubt there will ever be a one-web-app-framework-to-rule-them-all, even intra-language, just given the catch-22 nature of such frameworks: the simpler a framework is to learn/use, the less features it provides and the less likely it can handle more/greater complexity/edge-cases; the more features a framework provides and the more edge-cases and greater complexity that it can handle, the more difficult it is to learn/use. As such, frameworks will come and go, but the underlying web and db apis, upon which those frameworks are built is more important imo, especially in regards to portability.

Based on my experience to date with python and ruby, I'd say that ruby has a more one-way-of-doing-things than python at this time when it comes to the equivalent of java's servlet and jdbc apis (and I'm not talking about RoR). The wsgi definitely addresses this on the python side regarding servlet-like capabilitites, and hopefully it's pep status will move out of 'draft' status sooner rather than later, and the quicker the existing python web apps/frameworks implement it the better. In contrast, ruby seems to provide most core servlet-like capabilities in a basic ruby install (see cgi.rb, cgi/session.rb, etc).

As for the python db api, all of the 'optional' elements of the core db api (ie connection params, paramstyles, etc) hinder basic portability without additional higher level code to handle such differences between driver implementations. A couple (few?) of the driver implementers often say that the db api is for making life easier for driver implementers, not for app developers (or portability). If that is the case, then there should be an additional db api that is specifically geared towards the app developer/portability. This is what I'm hoping the sql api project does, although it seems like it would make more sense, from a marketing standpoint :-), if it could just be done in the db api v3.0 instead. In comparison, from what I've experienced in ruby to date, ruby's dbi (and dbds) doesn't seem to have these issues.

This (issues of the db api) applies to ajax as well if python wants to become a significant server-side player for serving/handling XMLHttpRequest calls for ajax db web apps.

I guess the point of this long winded post is that in regards to python marketing/evangelizing, especially as it relates to the rise in popularity of RoR/ruby and ajax when it comes to db web apps, python would be in a lot better position if it ironed out the portability issues in the underlying web and db apis.


Anjan Bacchu

Posts: 18
Nickname: anjanb
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Marketing Python - An Idea Whose Time Has Come Posted: Mar 3, 2006 10:22 PM
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hi all,

good to note the efforts to imrpove python. I'm a java developer -- Bruce Eckel is about the closest python evangelist I've heard.

Since Guido van Rossum is in the US, it should be easier for evangelism -- he should take the lead. Since this is the age of the web/web2.0, he(or someone who's really involved in python) should take the lead in writing books and evangelising python.

If the python world can come up with a component model that will make web development reuseable/more Productive, then things will be great. RoR did a pretty good job with the productivity piece of web development. If a Python webFramework can tackle the other piece -- reusable components (which JSF/Tapestry/ASP 2.0 are tackling), then that will be a big contribution to the openSource webDev community.

if python improves and improves the capabilities of the average developer, then the whole developer community will improve. With good competition (RoR, python, C# 2.0), java will also improve. Everyone gets better.

my 2 cents.


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