Thursday, December 24, 2009

Good News and Bad News for Python Dev...

Good News and Bad News for Python Developers

As you've probably figured out by now I've become a fan of the Python programming language.
I haven't done anything large scale or in a team with it, but it looks like it can scale well.   It also has an increasing presence in the infrastructure of the various Linux distributions.   One of the pluses of that is that the distributions now have to worry though at least some of the challenges of easing forward to new releases of Python.   Python 3.1 is not a trivial target from 2.4 or 2.6, so I'm happy to see the transition is something that the Fedora and Ubuntu folks are working out while I bravely lag behind cheering their progress.

Anyhow, the good news is that it is possible to mix C and C++ libraries in with Python code.  The bad news is that you need to be some kind of guru to untangle a stack trace from such a combined environment when something crashes.
Dave Malcolm has proposed some additions to the gdb debugger for Fedora 13 to make it easier to debug such mixed stacks.   For a good time, take a look at the stack trace that Dave points to from his description of the proposed enhancement.   It certainly left me convinced I'm not ready to do any heavy duty mixing of Python and extensive C & C++ libraries.    And back in the day I did my share of Assembler language programming above and below PL/I wrestling with SYSUDUMPs back on the mainframes.

I'll stick my neck out and assert that programming with a mix of complex programming languages is always going to present challenges.   But after I saw Dave's example, I felt like I had to point it out so you can't later say that I never warned you.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!  (I borrowed the beautiful Christmas tree picture from the web page of Lynne Marshall. The page gave no attribution for the picture, so I don't have further credits to give for it).


Revised 02/03/2010 to correct a typo.