Python ? Pah !

Some thoughts on a month spent working with Python and Eclipse.

First up: Eclipse.
Eclipse is not so much an editor as a world-view. The eclipse mindset takes some getting used to. Like scientology it comes with it’s own overladen terminology. Before you can even begin typing code, you’ve got to learn about ‘perspectives’ and ‘workspaces’. Gah ! I just want to write code – get out of my way you over-engineered java-centric fusspot ! After one month working in Eclipse, all I can say is I really really miss Emacs’ keyboard macros.
I ended up using Eclipse for two reasons…

  1. It was the ‘prescribed’ editor – not just ‘recommended’ but ‘prescribed’. If you ever end up in an organization that prescribes the tools you must use – don’t walk – RUN. Unless of course …
  2. … it was also the best choice given that Emacs’ interactive gdb debugger and Python’s don’t get along in a Windows environment. I’m not really sure where to place blame here – is it Python or Emacs ? Anyway – If someone has cracked the emacs + pdb-on-windows nut – please let me know.

Eclipse just feels too big and full of itself to win me over from Emacs. Which leads me on to my next point…

I’ve heard python described as a better cleaner Perl (hell – they say the same thing about Ruby: whose tyres I’m currently kicking). Python is certainly more readable than Perl. After some time with Python, Perl’s variables %do @{$start} $looking @overly $#fussy. array.append('x') just looks better than perl’s push @array, 'x';.
But try getting ImageMagick and Python working together – it’s not as easy as it is for Perl. Eclipse’s pydev is nice but, I haven’t figured out how to change variables during debugging.
For me – the single biggest drawback to switching to python is it’s difficulty in getting ImageMagick and Python working together (the same is true of Ruby).
Python is very nice but not nice enough to sway me from Perl.


8 thoughts on “Python ? Pah !

  1. I’ve tried all the Python IDEs and PyDev+Eclipse is as good as it gets right now but I’m 100% with you on the world view thing. I always feel like I’m not doing things as efficiently as I could cos I haven’t spent years studying the IDE.

    Have you tried PDB on (cough) XEmacs on Windows?

    I’d blame ImageMagick not Python ;-) You try PIL? I never have. I doubt it compares?

  2. Eclipse no good? You have strayed from the path of true enlightenment :-)

    That said , I tend to use Eclipse for Java work (in which it is far more mature) and there *is* a learning curve to it’s ‘everything is a plugin’ mentality.

    For Java stuff , I’d recommend JBoss IDE (based on Eclipse). I can’t really comment for Python , but it sounds like you might prefer a more simple editor like JEdit or Jext.

  3. Joe says:

    Walter, what are you using to interface to ImageMagick?

    Both my guys use Eclipse, but they were previously Java programmers (Eclipse really shines for Java programming) so cutting over to Pydev wasn’t an issue. Its definitely immersive and I still use Emacs for the little bits of programming I get involved in.

    If you have specific questions on Python drop me a line and I’ll forward them on to John and/or Darren, my two code cutters.

  4. sxoop says:

    Hi Joe,

    I’m using Perl with ImageMagick. Using Python with imageMagick requires Scons and Boost to compile PythonMagick. For customers, that might be just too much work.
    If Darren or John use Emacs and pdb on windows, I’d love to hear from them.

  5. Joe says:


    Would you not just deliver the compiled ImageMagick for them? The ImageMagick site has a Python interface that should give you API access.

    They are both Eclipse users, so they would be much help with emacs, sorry. I’ll take a look tho’.

  6. sxoop says:

    Yes. PythonMagick is the Python interface to ImageMagick. It has to be compiled regardless. ImageMagick is usually on the customer’s server (esp if it’s linux/freebsd) and a binary distro is available for windows. You can get RPMs for RedHat too.
    PythonMagick is an additional source package which isn’t distributed with ImageMagick.

  7. Ansel says:

    For another IDE, try Komodo from ActiveState – it works very nicely with Python and is way less bloaty than Eclipse.

  8. Nimish Parmar says:

    Eclipse was meant to be a Java IDE at first and completely suits Java developers. Although, not so much for Perl development. Emacs or plain ol’ vim makes life a lot easier if you’re developing on *nix platforms.

    Sure, at first Perl variables and code can look a bit…um confusing. But it’s like the first time you taste beer – you hate it. The more you drink it, the more you start to like it ;)

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