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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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Productivity versus Performance

Bill Venners: You ended your keynote discussing by the future impact of Python. How do you feel the tradeoff between programmer productivity and program performance will evolve into the future. In the past when we had only a tiny amount of memory for our code and data, and expensive machines, performance was critically important. Over time the machines have become more powerful and cheaper, but a programmer's time is still relatively expensive. What is the tradeoff right now between productivity and performance, and where is it heading into the future?

Bruce Eckel: People change slowly, so I think there's still a lot of holding onto old ideas. Admittedly we've been bitten a bunch of times by people promising code reuse and lots of other holy grails. It is understandable that people are going to be a bit conservative about trying to change to new things, because they've had a bunch of things thrown at them in the past.

Bill Venners: Things that didn't work out?

Bruce Eckel: Or things that worked out OK, but had their own issues. I believe it was definitely worth moving from C to C++, and from C++ to Java. So there was progress there. For something as advanced as Python is over those languages -- and as different -- there will be some hesitation. However, it seems that in all these cases economics wins out.

When you say we can have one Python programmer that's as productive as ten Java programmers, and that's not taking into account the communication issues of ten programmers, at some point somebody is going to look at that and say, "Wow. I can make a lot of money. I have a lot of leverage over my competition. I can get my product to market quicker. Gee, there are all these things that produce very significant financial differences. Can I afford not to look at this?"

Next Week

Come back Monday, July 28 for Part V of a conversation with Elliotte Rusty Harold. I am now staggering the publication of several interviews at once, to give the reader variety. If you'd like to receive a brief weekly email announcing new articles at Artima.com, please subscribe to the Artima Newsletter.

Talk Back!

Have an opinion about type checking, finding errors, or techie versus marketing control of technologies? Discuss this article in the News & Ideas Forum topic, Python and the Tipping Point.

Resources

Bruce Eckel's Mindview, Inc.:
http://www.mindview.net/

Bruce Eckel's essay on checked exceptions: Does Java Need Checked Exceptions?:
http://www.mindview.net/Etc/Discussions/CheckedExceptions

Bruce Eckel's Public and In-House Seminars:
http://mindview.net/Seminars

Bruce Eckel's Weblog:
http://www.mindview.net/WebLog

Python.org, the Python Language Website:
http://www.python.org/

Introductory Material on Python:
http://www.python.org/doc/Intros.html

Python Tutorial:
http://www.python.org/doc/current/tut/tut.html

Python FAQ Wizard:
http://www.python.org/cgi-bin/faqw.py

Programming Python, by Mark Lutz, is available on Amazon.com at:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596000855/

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