Empty comparisons of software

Something that annoys me is when people write "comparisons" of two things that are very good things to compare, that tell you nothing of substance about either one. For example:

Difference between Ruby and Python

(It seems to be a thing with these generic comparison websites that they're always terrible. slant.co is another one that's always terrible.)

The article seems to be written for novices, so I'll forgive a couple of watered-down, extremely questionable statements like "OOP methodology is helpful to model a program or a set of programs using objects". The very first sentence is objectionable:

Ruby and Python are high-level programming languages because they follow a syntax similar to the English Language.

High-level-ness has nothing to do with syntax; it refers to conceptual zoom level. A language that uses pointers and manual memory management is low-level (or mid-level if we're including assembly in the spectrum). A language that has automatic memory management, first-class functions and built-in data structures is high-level. Perl and Javascript are high-level languages whose syntax isn't remotely similar to English. If C used `and`, `or`, `not`, and `:` instead of `&&`, `||`, `!`, and `{...}`, it wouldn't make it any higher-level.

The *key difference* between Ruby and Python is that *Ruby is mostly used for web development while Python is mostly used for a variety of applications including web development.* Python is also commonly used for scientific computing, data science applications, embedded systems and also as an academic programming language.

Putting aside that what people use them for isn't a difference between the languages at all but likely a consequence of a difference between the languages, saying "mostly used for..." and then an open-ended category ("a variety of applications including...") is pointless, especially if the example you list is the same one you said Ruby was mostly about. These two sentences should've read "Ruby is mostly used for web development while Python is used for other things as well, such as ...".

To their credit, they do allude to a couple of legitimate semantic differences, such as "Ruby defines closures using blocks. Closures have read and write access to variables from the outer scope", and they indirectly say that Python has tuples and Ruby doesn't.

But eventually they get to their "Side by Side Comparison - Ruby vs Python in Tabular Form":

## Ruby vs Python
Ruby is a dynamic, object-oriented, reflective general purpose programming language.
Python is an interpreted high-level programming language for general purpose programming.

These descriptions amount to exactly the same thing (when you fill in that Python is also object-oriented, dynamic and reflective and Ruby is also high-level and interpreted), but they're worded very differently which gives the impression that they're saying something different. Terrible considering that the article seems to be aimed at novices, who wouldn't be able to tell that these descriptions are identical.

### Designer
Ruby was designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto.
Python was designed by Guido van Rossum.

Nobody cares!

### File extension
Ruby files are saved with. rb extension.
Python files are saved with .py extension.

Nobody cares!

### Data Types
Ruby has data types such as numbers, strings, arrays, hashes.
Python has data types such as numbers, strings, lists, dictionaries, tuples.

Why list the ones they both have?!? You didn't write that they both have Booleans, so why write that they both have numbers and strings? And why use different names for the same types? There is *one* legitimate difference here, but to someone who didn't already know it, it wouldn't even be obvious which one (especially because Python uses the word *tuple* to mean something completely different from what it means in other languages).

### Switch/Case
Ruby supports switch case statements.
Python does not support switch case statements.

This is a legitimate difference! A very small one given the alternative of `elif` chains, but legitimate.

### Functions
In Ruby, methods cannot be directly passed to a method. Instead, use Procs.
Python supports functions. Functions can be passed to another function.

There's actually a big difference here, though they don't explain what it is and they weirdly imply that Ruby doesn't support functions.

### Add Modules
Ruby uses the keyword require to add modules.
Python uses the keyword import to add necessary modules.

Nobody cares!

### Anonymous Functions
Ruby contains blocks, Procs and lambdas.
Python contains lambdas.

This is just an extension of the one titled "Functions", and again no explanation of what the difference is.

### Major Web Frameworks
Ruby on Rails is a Ruby-based web framework.
Django, Flask is Python-based web frameworks.


When I look up a comparison of two languages, I'm asking what the difference in ideology is. An excellent quote from Paul Graham is "Languages are half technology and half religion". No one cares what the name of the import keyword is. How does the language think about problems?

Paul Graham quote source

As an example, see this excellent comparison of OCaml and Standard ML:


It's lengthy, but even if you limited it to the length of this Ruby versus Python article, it cites and explains all sorts of meaningful differences in syntax, semantics, type system, tooling, and module system instead of wasting your time. This article is what you should shoot for when you write comparisons.


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