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Python and the Tipping Point
A Conversation with Bruce Eckel, Part IV
by Bill Venners
July 21, 2003

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Bruce Eckel talks with Bill Venners about how Python's minimal finger typing allows programmers to focus on the task, not the tool, generating a productivity that makes more projects feasible.

Bruce Eckel wrote the best-selling books Thinking in C++ and Thinking in Java, but for the past several years he's preferred to think in Python. Two years ago, Eckel gave a keynote address at the 9th International Python Conference entitled "Why I love Python." He presented ten reasons he loves programming in Python in "top ten list" style, starting with ten and ending with one.

In this interview, which is being published in four installments, I ask Bruce Eckel about each of these ten points.

I Don't Have to Type So Much

Bill Venners: In your "Why I Love Python" keynote, you gave ten reasons you love Python. Number three was: "I don't have to type so much." To what extent do you think the productivity gain you get with Python, which you said was 5 to 10 times over Java, is just from reduced finger typing?

Bruce Eckel: I don't think the productivity comes from the finger typing so much, although that is certainly part of it. The main sources of productivity are that I am able to look at more lines of code on the screen, put more meaning into fewer lines of code, read and understand code more easily, and deal with higher level concepts. Also, Python comes with "batteries included," which means a large quantity of library functions come with the standard Python download.

Finger typing is clearly oversimplifying all that, but nevertheless, finger typing is the root of it all. In Python I can type fewer words to express my meaning. The reduced typing has something to do with the productivity increase I see when using Python, but more productivity probably comes because I have to think less hard to do what I'm doing.

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