I wish Python was more popular

Programming / Friday, December 23rd, 2016

I was first introduced to Python around 2011. I used to be a content writer back then, but I used to de-stress by reading about programming languages and comparing them. At that time, I came in touch with Python and instantly fell in love. The language had all the ideals I had wanted: expressive, easy, versatile, neat, and extremely close to common sense. And what to speak of the community! I felt that I had arrived at the holy grail of programming and could forget every other language forever.

Fast-forward to today, and I think that while my assessment still holds true, Python has lost the race to both popularity and big money. It’s not the language used by most people, and it certainly isn’t where large corporations are putting their money.

Let me point out some cases:

  • Game programming: Java or Go for 2D games (or something like Unity, which uses JavaScript and C#). Java has excellent libraries that run without pain on Android, too (LibGDX, anyone?) and Go is incredibly fast. If you want browser games, use Elm, maybe. Pygame remains a good attempt, but is ultimately too restricted.
  • Massively scalable backends: Elixir or Scala are light-years ahead when it comes to lightweight processes and massive scalability.
  • Real-time, mission-critical communication: C++.
  • System programming: C, C++ or Rust.
  • GUI programming: You can make a case for Python here, but the ecosystem is too fragmented. Something like Java or Go or even C++ is better, I feel.
  • Machine Learning and AI: Yes, there’s a lot going on here in the Python world, but R, Java and Scala are where the big players are.
  • Financial programming: OCaml or Java have long established themselves.
  • Mathematical programming: Haskell.

You can’t even explore functional programming in Python, because it’s functional capabilities are poor by comparison. If you want happiness, try Clojure. And then, ClojureScript also takes care of the front-end. In any case, there’s a definite shift to functional programming now, and there’s just no use to learn 560 pages of theory on the insides of an object-oriented language.

Python had a decent run, and sure there’s a lot of interest around it, but large-scale, serious projects demand the kind of output that Python just cannot provide. And this is sad, because I feel such a nicely designed language and such a warm community should’ve had more popularity. More than PHP, at least. 😛

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