May 01, 2002
Syntax Checking the Scripting Way

Cameron Laird and Kathryn Soraiz's article is well worth a look.

One of the most frequent objections to scripting languages (such as Python) is that their lack of static types and declarations will make your code buggier. Until I tried Python, I would have thought the same thing myself. In practice, though, it just doesn't seem to be a problem.

At work, I use Java. Sure, some of the mistakes that I might make are picked up at compile time (or earlier, using a smart IDE like Eclipse). But only some of them. So I have to unit test thoroughly anyway. So all that the static type checking buys me is that I find some errors earlier than I otherwise would.

This would be good, except that static type checking makes me jump through a lot of hoops sometimes to get stuff done. I am certainly many times more productive with Python than with Java.

Now, I would never have discovered this unless I had given Python a try. Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt recommend that a professional developer should learn one new language a year, and preferably one based upon a new paradigm. I'll second that.

My next target is the functional language Haskell.

Posted to Software development by Simon Brunning at May 01, 2002 03:58 PM
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