What Working With Python Has Taught Me…

I’ve been working with Python for the last few weeks on a pet project that I have going on.  I’ve been using PyDev with Eclipse and using Django as the application framework for this web app.  Part of it is because I’m kind of disillusioned with ASP.NET (Django is very clean, out of the box) and part of it is because it’s a challenge and it’s been fun to switch gears away from the daily grind.

If there is one lesson I’ve learned, it’s that Microsoft developers are spoiled rotten.  Visual Studio is such an excellent development environment with so much flexibility that it makes it so easy, that perhaps there are more .NET developers than should have a right to call themselves professionals.  Switching to Eclipse has been a revalation in what I’ve been missing since I’ve started using Visual Studio and ReSharper.

I know this feeling; it’s the same feeling I had when I was in college, writing Java in vi and emacs.  No drag and drop (not that I use this much in VS anyways as I’ve almost completely sworn off control based ASP.NET development).  No hand holding.  It’s a raw and visceral programming experience.  It’s hard to explain; it comes out kind of like a knock against Eclipse and PyDev, but a more fitting comparison is like the difference between shooting a semi-automatic rifle and a bolt action rifle; there’s just something about the bolt action that makes the experience much more enjoyable.

In truth, it’s been very challenging and not at all easy to transition.  At the same time, it’s been fun and rewarding.  While I feel less productive with Eclipse at the moment due to the newness of it all, I do feel more productive with Python and the runtime interpreter than C#.

I’ve come to find that Django, while much, much better than ASP.NET in some respects, lacks a lot of the conveniences and facets that I’ve come to expect from a modern web framework like a rich and easy to use, out of the box JSON serialization library or pattern (it’ll get there some day).  ASP.NET makes this nearly painless while the JSON serializer which ships with Django isn’t really suited for working with arbitrary objects (I’ve been using jsonpickle instead).  PyDev and PyDev Extensions are also no match for ReSharper (I dunno, as a random guess, I would say that R# affords a 30-40% improvement in productivity).

So, that’s the story so far.  Perhaps when I have more time, I’ll round up some of the resources I’ve used to ramp up on Python development.

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