written on Friday, July 13, 2018
Guido van Rossum announced that he's stepping down as BDFL. It made me think. The Python programming language has left a profound impact on my life. It's my home, it gave me many of my friendships and acquaintances. It gave me my work, supplied me with many invaluable experiences and it even made me meet my now wife.
As most readers of this blog might know, I have a ambivalent relationship with the language as of a few years ago. I learned a lot through Python and one of the things I learned is also which mistakes one can make in language and interpreter design. Since I know Python in and out it's not hard for me to see all the things that did not go well. However nothing is perfect. The things that might be ugly in the language or implementation also have some unexpected benefits. Python has a pretty weak story on package distribution and imports, yet at the same time this has made the Python community more cautious about API breakage. The simplistic nature of the interpreter has cultivated an environment of countless C extensions that expanded the Python community in ways that few people would have expected.
Python is Guido van Rossum. While there have been many contributors over the years it's without doubt his creation. You can go back to the earliest versions of the language and it still feels similar. The interpreter design is still the same and so were the influences of the language. Python has achieved something that few languages did: it enabled absolute beginners to start with a language that is fun to pick up and it stays relevant and useful into ones professional life.
In case you are reading this Guido: I cannot express enough how much I owe to you. For all the strong disagreements I had with some of your decisions over the years please do not forget that I always appreciated it.