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I find Python's type hints to be very useful in my own code.
As you mentioned, they aren't checked when Python compiles your source into bytecode. But good tooling catches errors pretty quickly. Pycharm does a good job of screaming at me if I do anything that violates my type-annotated Python code.
As for performance, it depends on what you're doing. Most of Instagram's UI is still data from a Django app, so big Python apps running at massive scale can work if you're careful. Might not work as well for other types of applications, though.
Usually because of duck typing and lack of full compilation and such errors can be harder to track down.
Oi, that is definitely the worst thing. I wrote a complicated application to run on an rPi that dealt with hardware inputs and outputs, various configurations, etc., and it was painful, and I mean PAINFUL, to run the program only to discover I had some stupid typo.
PyLint helped a lot! As did mocking the classes that did the hardware interface (with a UI written in GTK, yuck), and running the thing on my PC first. Which was awesome, being able to test and debug on Windows before shuffling the code over to the rPi!
I've browsed github python repositories and found much more than that therein. I think your workmate maybe didn't give you the best example. Unfortunately I don't have a better one handy, as my level of involvement in all of this is as a passing interest.
"All these cool things you could do with Python" is very rarely because of the language itself, but due to the ecosystem built around it. A similar ecosystem built around any other language or platform would be just as cool ... in principle. From a technical viewpoint.
But the psychology of identity is super-essential here. A Python package is for us, we the Python community. Let those C++ and C# and VB and Fortran guys do their own, if they like - that's none of our business.
We could try to build a similar ecosystem around dotNET, with the same spirit surrounding an assembly well rivaling PyPi in size and variation, available to all dotNET languages. But what sort of identity and unifying community is that? I think it is far from realistic creating anything close to the same enthusiasm around dotNET, without that focusing point that is The One Unifying Language that we all speak in our code.
There is nothing in the Python language as such that makes it more suitable. What is does or does not offer in programming mechanisms isn't essential. But its function as a beacon to lead you into safe waters of a cool ecosystem is.
imho, this is elegantly said, and points to the social context changing as more and more computational and graphic power are available, affordable.
Narratives, often mythic, form around computer languages qua social movements. With Python, I have wondered if the "sole author" origin has added an aura of "for the rest of us" ... of individuality vs conformity.
The mythos that Steve Jobs was such a conscious creator and performer of ... his "reality distortion field" ... term first used by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981 to describe Jobs.
«One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.» Salvador Dali
It gives the users the power to say "We rule! We don't give an elephant about anyone else - we are in our own world were WE are masters, doing things OUR way! We give you POWER!"
Forget about interfacing to other languages. Forget about common libraries for arbitrary languages. Forget about other ways of distributed updated software. Established ways of installing software. We do everything The Python Way!
That feeling of power, independence from any non-Python dictate, is quite essential. Python people feel that they are masters of the world. That is, their closed Python world. And that is enough for a whole lot of them.
That explains the mid-life crises feeling I have this year. I did not know it was cyclical.
What a bummer.
"Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence." - Edsger Dijkstra
"I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks. " - Daniel Boone