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Byte.com: A Perl Hacker in the Land of Python

Feb 07, 2000, 16:36 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jon Udell)

"I'm a big fan of Perl, have done nearly all my Web programming in that language, and have attended all three annual Perl conferences. So it was a real change of pace to attend IPC8, the Eighth International Python Conference. And, I'll admit, it was daunting to be asked to give the keynote talk at the conference's very popular Zope track...Although my experience with both Python and Zope is far more limited than my experience with Perl, I've seen enough now to draw some interesting parallels and distinctions between the two languages and their respective cultures. Here, then, are some observations about these two wildly successful open-source scripting languages...."

"From 50,000 feet, Perl and Python are strikingly similar. Both are open-source products that can be built on Win32 and a wide variety of UNIX platforms. Both can be used in a purely procedural manner, or in an object-oriented way. Both manage memory automatically. Both support rich, dynamic data structures such as lists and associative arrays. Both come with extensive libraries of scripted and compiled extension modules that work with databases, graphics, networking, directory services, XML, and much more. Both are rooted in strong communities."

"For Perl, OOP was a bolt-on, not a built-in. Objects didn't arrive until the fifth incarnation of Perl. By contrast, OOP was built in to Python, not bolted on. That said, I'm not inclined to make as much of this point as some people do. Perl's object-orientation, though it has more of a blue-collar feel to it than Python's, can certainly get the job done. What may matter more is what's under the hood. Although to the scripter both Perl and Python can seem object-oriented, Perl in the guts of its interpreter is not object-oriented whereas Python is...."

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