Python creator Guido van Rossum quits Dropbox, triggering his retirement

Chris Merriman
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van Rossum has been a major influence on the dev world
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van Rossum has been a major influence on the dev world

But he's not an ex-programmer. He has not ceased to be.

PYTHON WRANGLER Guido van Rossum has announced his retirement. The news is the final curtain on the career of the man behind the world's most popular programming language.

Van Rossum is leaving Dropbox, where he has spent the last six years as their Python Charmer in residence, a natural fit for a platform built, in no small part, in Python - the language he created and declared himself ‘Benevolent Dictator for Life' (BDFL).

Last year, he stepped down from his role in managing Python itself,  handing over responsibilities to a Python Council, meaning he's free and clear of responsibilities. Nice work if you don't need it.

One of van Rossum's main challenges at Dropbox was teaching staff who had written ‘cowboy code' that was impossible for future developers to decipher, to write sustainably.

Python first landed 29 years ago and one of its main aims was to make code readable using whitespace, and through clear, logical lines of code.

Currently in its third iteration, 2020 will be a big one for Python, as it plans to end support for Python 2 after twenty years, on January 1st, following an extension. After that time, there'll be no security patches or bug fixes.

From that point, only versions 3.5+ of Python will be supported. As ever with EoL products, there's a lot of unmigrated code out there, but given this switch off has been postponed for five years, it's not about to be given another stay of execution.

Van Rossum started out working on BSD Unix back in 1986. He also helped develop the ABC Programming Language.

Before joining Dropbox in 2013, Van Rossum had been a Python Wrangler at Google, where he'd also spent 50 per cent of his time maintaining the language.

But it's Python that will stand as his greatest contribution. Hopefully, as he steps down, he'll get to see it go from strength to strength, but from the comfort of his home, with his wife and child.

Oh - and since you ask, yes - Van Rossum confirms that the language is named after Monty Python. μ

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