Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Russel Winder: You Need To Know Python

Skills Matter Tuesday 2nd August

As I've said before, I love seeing Russel speak. He was on form again tonight, despite his migraine. One of the reasons I like seeing Russel speak is his sense of humour. Although, there is always a sensible and serious message behind it.

Tonight I think the message was really that knowing multiple programming languages and paradigms makes you a better programmer in all of them. The reason Russel chose Python is that he clearly has a deep fondness for the language. It has always appealed to me, so much that I write acceptance tests for my .Net applications in IronPython.

Harking back to Uncle Bob's talk a few weeks ago, Russel started with a whirlwind tour of programming languages through time, starting with FORTRAN through to the creation of C and the world domination of C++ that was eventually, according to Russel, killed off by Java. I'm not sure I agree with Russel here. I suspect what he actually means is that within academic institutions Java took over from C++ on computer science courses. I was certainly still programming in C++ in 2006 and didn't switch to Java until later. Conspicuous by their absence all the way through, were all the Microsoft languages. Russel clearly isn't a fan. Last came all the new dynamic languages such as Ruby and Clojure. Where was Groovy, Russel's favourite, I hear you ask? It was in the mix too. Unusually Russel only mention Groovy a couple of times tonight. The focus, as expected, was very much Python.

Then we got into the heart of the presentation and Russel explained his thinking and delivered his message that knowing multiple programming languages and paradigms makes you a better programmer in all of them.

In the final part of the talk Russel examined some of latest features of Python, including with, its take on C++'s RAII. I am almost entirely unimpressed with garbage collected languages versions of RAII. So much so I'm going to write a blog post. Watch this space. Finally he discussed one of the most important issues of our time, concurrency and parallelism. Python is unprepared, but it's being worked on.

The video of Russel's talk is link from his blog here.

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