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How not to treat loyal customers

December 6th, 2008

The designer of Python is about to get some on-the-job education in how loyal customers should be treated. The latest release of Python, version 3.0, is the first that is “ever intentionally backwards incompatible”, see the release notes for the litany of broken constructs. Just in case customers are slow to get the message, this latest release is also 10% slower.

If, six months from now, most people/sites are running Python 3.0 we can deduce that very few significant programs are written in the language. On the other hand if very few people/sites are running Python 3.0 we can deduce that many users of the language have significant amounts of code written in the language. At least one measure of program language usage puts Python in the top 10, so there should be plenty of data points.

Should we expect some back-peddling in 2009? Perhaps not; the tone of the release notes is breathtakingly casual about the pain users will experience if they update, not even trying to soften the blow by selling the benefits of the latest release. The ‘you are with me or against me’ attitude is nailed to the mast with “It is not recommended to try to write source code that runs unchanged under both Python 2.6 and 3.0;”

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