PyDev of the Week: Saul Pwanson | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Saul Pwanson | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Saul Pwanson (@saulfp) as our PyDev of the Week! Saul is the creator of VisiData, an interactive multitool for tabular data. If you’d like to see what Saul has been up to, then you should check out his website or his Github profile. You can also support Saul’s open source endeavors on Patreon. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Saul better!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I grew up in Chicagoland in the 80s, was on BBSes in the early 90s, and IRC in college and thereafter. I’ve been once to the Recurse Center in New York, twice to Holland, and six times to Bruno’s in Gerlach, NV. I like crossword puzzles, board games, and point-and-click adventures. One day I’d like to finish my “board simulation” of the awe-inspiring mechanics inside mitochondria.

Why did you start using Python

It was for a job at a startup back in 2004. It’s really great as a scripting language, and the standard library makes most common things easy by itself, with the rest of the ecosystem providing not just one but usually about 4 different ways of doing any task, often including one that works really well. I tip my hat to all the unsung developers of Python libraries who make interfaces to other systems that *just work*. VisiData supports so many data formats simply because the richness of the Python ecosystem makes it easy.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

I did a lot of x86 assembly as a teenager in my BBS days, and started using both C and C++ in college. I still use C on a daily basis doing embedded development for my day job. I haven’t used C++ for about 10 years, which means I’m way out of date on it now.

My favorite language, though, is an older language called Forth, which is a brilliant little system and gets you the most bang for your buck in highly constrained environments. (We’re talking kilobytes and megahertz, orders of magnitude fewer resources than most software could even dream of fitting their runtime into). The esssence of Forth is incredibly elegant, with the implementation setting things up “just so” and then everything falls into place naturally by design, with very little actual code.

Programming in Forth has encouraged me to think in very clean ways about my own code in other languages. Often if you’re looking at the VisiData source code, a particular bit of code may seem devastatingly simple and turn out to be subtly and amazingly powerful, but it wasn’t by chance. The rest of the system often has to be designed “just so” that little bit of code can be elegant. I know many modern software engineers might consider that a waste of time, but spending that effort on the core design often leads to other surprising capabilities that then just magically work

Thanks for doing the interview, Saul!

The post PyDev of the Week: Saul Pwanson appeared first on The Mouse Vs. The Python.

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