Python is an amazing programming language that makes software development productive and fun. Python is open source, was created by a community of thousands of developers world-wide, and is used by about 14% of all programmers today. These are my thoughts as a user, advocate, co-author of an IDE for Python, and a director of the Python Software Foundation.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Python's Niche?

A few years back I started as a way to try to help new users pick up Python, particularly when they needed material to convince management that Python is a good choice. Together with the launch of this partially neglected site, I created a now-inactive mailing list marketing-python. Bold ambitions were announced, but not much happened in the context of "marketing" Python as you might market, say, Java or .NET with a boat load of vigorous hype.

The consensus seemed to be that Python needs a "niche" like those that catapulted Perl and PHP to comparatively wild success. But Python is terrific for many things so it's hard to focus on one or another. With no killer app and no hefty marketing bank roll in sight, we were told that little open source Python could never succeed by herself in the mainstream.

But here we are in 2005 and something curious has happened -- InfoWorld tells us that 14% of all programmers use Python, up 6% from the previous year. This almost doubles the number of Python programmers world-wide. Microsoft and Google are providing two out of three keynotes at the upcoming PyCon conference. Many other big companies are using Python, more and more of them openly on mission critical projects (see for example, Python Success Stories).

So it seems Python is succeeding without any organized marketing effort from the community. Does this mean it has a niche after all? I think it does and it's really quite simple: In a world where more and more companies want to avoid proprietary traps, Python is the solution they are turning to. Python represents the only really viable, robust, scalable, and mature open source alternative to broad-based proprietary technologies like C# or Java. In fact, Python is a heck of a lot better than either of these heavy-weights, in some areas where its standard libraries and third party modules really shine (or theirs really suck). For examples, see this overview.

If I'm right, I and my fellow dysfunctional marketeers can rest at last and enjoy the ride, because the push for technological freedom is - especially outside of the USA - a largely unstoppable force. And Python is, I can say with confidence, quite ready for the crush.


At 9:43 PM, Blogger Ithai Levi said...

Stephan, congratulations for the new blog. I agree, python is ready for prime and in fact, as a cto, I decided to develop 50% of our product - almost the entire services layer - using python. This is how much I belive in python and its strength.

At 10:51 AM, Blogger bengtfrost said...

I love Python because it's clear syntax, less typying, many programming styles and that you can use it 'in' so many contexts. F.ex. I am now planning to develop some kind of archade on-line game. Really great that Python is getting more and more momentum. Thanks Guido von Rossum and other contributors.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger lloyd said...

as python gains more attention, can we be assured that its direction won't be driven by larger entities with an agenda? (yes, i'm referring to microsoft.)

At 3:53 AM, Blogger jorjun said...

I agree that Python would be better for grassroots support rather than marketing. It is succeeding because of its utility as identified by experts in the field.

Companies that have a policy which amounts to one of fear, ie. 'follow the herd', deserve what they get. Ie. unmotivated developers and low productivity.

If there is a niche for Python, then it is one based on the profile of the developer rather than the application domain.

Python developers are nice guys according to my own definition. Why? Because choosing Python socks it to the man, which young and small firms need to do as they scamble upward! ;-)

Java and C# established players can afford to tread water. But I wouldn't work for one of these firms even if you paid me *lots*.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Alex Garel said...

Doesn't Zope/Plone represent a product which helped marketing Python ?
Here in France that's the only stuff related to python I really heard about around.


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