A Byte of Python

Why not Perl?

If you didn't know already, Perl is another extremely popular open source interpreted programming language.

If you have ever tried writing a large program in Perl, you would have answered this question yourself! In other words, Perl programs are easy when they are small and it excels at small hacks and scripts to 'get work done'. However, they quickly become unwieldy once you start writing bigger programs and I am speaking this out of experience of writing large Perl programs at Yahoo!

When compared to Perl, Python programs are definitely simpler, clearer, easier to write and hence more understandable and maintainable. I do admire Perl and I do use it on a daily basis for various things but whenever I write a program, I always start thinking in terms of Python because it has become so natural for me. Perl has undergone so many hacks and changes, that it feels like it is one big (but one hell of a) hack. Sadly, the upcoming Perl 6 does not seem to be making any improvements regarding this.

The only and very significant advantage that I feel Perl has, is its huge CPAN library - the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network. As the name suggests, this is a humongous collection of Perl modules and it is simply mind-boggling because of its sheer size and depth - you can do virtually anything you can do with a computer using these modules. One of the reasons that Perl has more libraries than Python is that it has been around for a much longer time than Python. Maybe I should suggest a port-Perl-modules-to-Python hackathon on comp.lang.python :)

Also, the new Parrot virtual machine is designed to run both the completely redesigned Perl 6 as well as Python and other interpreted languages like Ruby, PHP and Tcl. What this means to you is that maybe you will be able to use all Perl modules from Python in the future, so that will give you the best of both worlds - the powerful CPAN library combined with the powerful Python language. However, we will have to just wait and see what happens.