import_that: XKCD guy flying with Python (Default)
Steven D'Aprano ([personal profile] import_that) wrote2014-03-19 12:30 pm
Entry tags:

Bike-shedding

Nathaniel Smith describes the culture of the python-ideas and python-dev mailing lists:

We're more of the love, bikeshedding, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you bikeshedding and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you bikeshedding and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the bikeshedding. Bikeshedding is compulsory.


Bike-shedding gets a bad rap, and deservedly so. But bike-shedding can also be a sign of passion and attention to detail. Sometimes it really does matter what colour the bike-shed is: "colour" (syntax) can have functional and practical consequences, even for real-life bike-sheds. Dark colours tend to absorb and retain more heat than light colours. Syntax matters. Languages which feel like a harmonious whole — even if the design sometimes only makes sense if you are Dutch — require that the designers care about the little details of syntax and spelling. Even though functionally there would be little difference, Python would be a very different language indeed if we spelled this:

def func(x, y):
    return x/(x+y)


as this:

: func OVER + / ;


It would in fact be Forth.

So let's hear it for a little bit of bike-shedding — but not too much!

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