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Q&A: Guido van Rossum on Python's next steps

Paul Krill | June 6, 2016
Mobile use, support via WebAssembly, and many imaginative options are in in the works for the popular object-oriented language.

InfoWorld: Are you surprised at the development of all these Python frameworks and things like Futhark that spring up in the Python ecosystem?

Van Rossum: Everybody likes to be part of the winning team, and Python seems to be in general on the way to success if you look at how many conferences there are and how many people come to big conferences like PyCon and EuroPython. It's growth everywhere, that excitement. I'm not surprised that people who are looking for a venue for their specialized project use Python as a starting point, as a support language, or as inspiration.

InfoWorld: Why is Python so popular these days? In language popularity indexes like Tiobe, PyPL, GitHub, and RedMonk, it's doing well.

Van Rossum: It's the ease of learning, the ease of use, and the community that is so open and welcome.

InfoWorld: You've said that you're the guy in charge of Python but there are a lot of other people contributing. How much is from you and how much of it is from other people?

Van Rossum: At this point, and actually for the last five years or more, it's mostly been coming from other people. I occasionally give guidance about whether I think a particular idea is acceptable or not, usually when it comes to syntax that might be added to the language. When it comes to libraries, I rarely bother to interfere. Sometimes I have to tell people to stop arguing and somehow find a way forward through compromise.

My ambition is for the community to sustain itself so that I can actually eventually retire or at least go on long vacations. I'm hoping and expecting that the language will evolve to absorb new ideas that come from other languages or from certain fields of activities.

One thing I want to point out are the SciPy and NumPy movements. Those people are introducing Python as a replacement for MatLab. It's open source, it's better, they can change it. They are taking it to places where I had never expected Python would travel. They have things like the Jupiter Notebooks that show interactive Python in the browser. There is a lot of incredibly cool work that is happening in that area.

 

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