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Things I hate about Python and Django

I have been a PHP programmer for the last 9 years, and only in September of 2009 I switched to Python and the Django framework. While I really love the Python language and the Django framework (especially compared to something like the Zend PHP framework), there are a couple of things that are really bugging me.

Python

  • The lack of public, private and protected functions. Yes, there is a convention to use an underscore for private methods, but it seems very old-fashioned to me.
  • Static functions are overly complicated to use in my opinion.
  • Why do all methods need to be given a “self” as their first parameter. I mean really..? Why can't this be automagically done?
  • ', '.join(list). No matter how you this explain this to me, it's still backwards.
  • No switch statement. You can replicate its functionality using a dictionary, but it is harder to read, and a lot harder to write.
  • Dictionaries are unordered. Argh! Very, very annoying.
  • The official Python documentation. I guess I am spoiled having used the very impressive official PHP documentation for so long, but really Python could use more work on this.
  • Not everything is consistently done in a object oriented fashion: why is it len(['list']) and len("string"), and not ['list'].len() and "string".len()?
  • All the underscores and __init__.py files.
  • Tuples must die. They are ugly, especially when you only have one item in it and it needs that dangling comma: ('item',)

Django

  • The template language has some very strong points, but simple things like variable variables are impossible without writing your own template tags. For example, within a loop I'd like to be able to do something like {{ my_dict.{{ variable }} }}.
  • The code style, in particular all the function_names_with_underscores. I always use mixedCaseNames, and now everything looks like crap.
  • It gets annoying having to restart your webserver after you change code. Thank God for the awesome development server that comes with Django at least.
  • Why can I use a {% block %} only once in my template? Maybe I want to show a block (like a title) twice on the same page. I know the technical reason for this limitation, but with Jinja2 templates for example you can at least show a previously defined block again.
  • Because much of your Python code is only executed once (after which only the compiled result is executed), sometimes it is overly complicated to write a function that is executed on every hit.

It's not all bad

I'd like to end on a positive note though with the things I love about Python and Django.

  • Significant whitespace. It makes other peoples Python code much easier to read, even though I still miss the closing brackets some times. They just make it easier to see where your block ends.
  • Keyword arguments. All languages should have them!
  • The community is great, both Python and Django (and Plone!)
  • Url config's, and how easy it is to create a beautiful url that links to a view.
  • Extending templates makes it easy to organize your html code
  • The Django documentation is very good. In fact, I think I have never seen an open source project with better documentation!
  • The thing I love most about Django has to be its buildin generic views like direct_to_template, object_list, object_detail, etc. It's so easy to create a view that shows a paginated list of items, or a view that uses a date in your url like /blog/2009/03.
  • And last but certainly not least: the buildin admin site. It just saves you so much time!

Have feedback? Let me know on Twitter.