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Against all odds, I found myself with a little spare time this week. Rather than do something sensible like clean the garage or get some exercise, I took the opportunity to learn a new programming language: Python.

Like may SitePoint readers, I cut my teeth on PHP. I've become very comfortable with it over the years, warts and all. PHP continues to be a dependable choice, but PHP hasn't changed a whole lot lately. Meanwhile, the kinds of applications I've been working on have been growing dramatically in both size and complexity.

Python has a lot in common with PHP: it's a dynamically typed, open source scripting language with excellent documentation and a thriving community around it. Both languages are also a little quirky when it comes to their handling of Unicode text.

Unlike PHP, Python wasn't originally designed as a language for Web development-it's a general programming language that just happens to have some excellent libraries and frameworks for building web sites, like Django. This may sound like an argument against Python, but it turns out that when you start writing bigger web applications, most of your code has nothing to do with HTML, and PHP's HTML-friendly features just seem to get in the way.



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