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Python vs. Microsoft .Net

Posted on 2006-07-05
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I'm planning to build a web site that will functions somewhat like rojo.com, reddit.com, and spotback.com. In other words, there will be a lot of working with rss feeds, generating HTML, interacting with databases, etc. Additionally, I'll be coding some algorithms to provide users with articles likely to be of interest to them. I had in mind building the site using Python, since my background is in Unix. The person I'm working with, however, is much more familiar with MS technologies, and is trying to convince me that implementing our site in Microsoft .Net would be preferable. What arguments are there for and against using Python instead of .NET? (I am not at all familiar with .NET, and only moderately familar with Python.)

Secondly, if we do end up using Python, is there any compelling reason not to use Django framework for web development?

Finally, I envision the web site (or some background processes) making a lot of requests to other web servers, to collect content. Would using the Twisted Matrix networking library be ideal? Are there reasonable alternatives?

Thanks!
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Question by:BerkeleyJeff
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RichieHindle earned 500 total points
ID: 17045948
I'm not that familiar with .NET, but as I understand it it comes with an excellent class library, probably better than Python's in two ways:

1. It includes more of the functionality you want, like database access and XML libraries
2. The APIs of the various components work in a very consistent manner.

In the case of Python, its standard library is excellent, but you'll also need to use third party libraries (for database access, for instance).  These libraries are all out there, and are mostly very good, but they don't ship with Python out of the box.  Because their APIs have been designed by different people, they aren't necessarily very consistent.

On the other hand, I think Python has two excellent advantages as well:

1. The language itself.  Python as a language is more fun and more productive than any of the .NET languages.  Your mileage may vary.
2. The community.  I'm sure .NET has good communites (I wouldn't know from first hand experience) but the Python community, centred around the comp.lang.python newsgroup, is very very helpful.

As for Django, I'm using it myself and it's great.

Making requests to other web servers is something that the Python standard library excels at.  I doubt you'll need any extra libraries to handle that - the 'urllib2' library should be all you need for reading from other servers.

If you're scraping HTML, I'd recommend BeautifulSoup.  If you're parsing RSS, I'd recommend Univeral Feed Parser.
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by:pepr
ID: 17048583
Frankly, I am not familiar with many aspects of building some rich web server. I know Python better than .NET. My experience is to look sometimes to reality and to accept trade-offs. There is IronPython -- implementation of Python in .NET. This could be the trade-off for you.
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by:BerkeleyJeff
ID: 17048594
I had considered IronPython, but according to the front page on the IronPython web site...

<i>IronPython is currently at a pre-alpha stage suitable for experimentation but not for serious development work.  The latest public release can be downloaded below.</i>
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by:rjkimble
ID: 17066752
Yup -- IronPython is nowhere close to feature complete. It's missing many of the standard libraries. Python for .NET seems cool if you want to combine Python and .NET. Check it out at http://pythonnet.sourceforge.net/.
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by:BerkeleyJeff
ID: 17069190
Thanks, all!
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