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Nokia Launches Python Toolkit

Developers now have a choice to use the open source Python language for mobile application development on Nokia Series 60 phones, the Finnish company announced.

The Python for Series 60 software packages from Nokia include a Python installer (SIS), example scripts and additional libraries, as well as an extensive documentation set.

Nokia's Python package allows Python developers, or Pythonistas, to create applications for the Nokia device with the Python language. The software package can also be used to develop commands and scripts that will run on the Nokia Series 60 phones.

The Python commands can be executed via a Bluetooth connection or via the device keypad. Applications can also be written to run as standalone Python applications on the Series 60.

According to Nokia's Erik Smartt the introduction of Python is partially intended to help break down the learning curve on mobile development. "The driving goal on this is simply to make mobile application development easier and more approachable," Smartt told internetnews.com.

Although Python wasn't the only language Smartt considered, it was the first on the list for a number of reasons.

"It seemed like a good language to bring to the device mostly because of the things you usually associate with Python," Smartt said. "It's easy to teach and it's easy to learn. What we wanted to do was start bringing other languages to the devices and see how developers reacted to them."

Nokia may have also been partially persuaded to include Python, thanks to a visit to Nokia's development lab by Python creator Guido van Rossum.

"I visited the Nokia lab that developed the Python port last summer and reviewed their work, and gave a presentation on Python to a large group of internal and external developers," van Rossum told internetnews.com.

Nokia's inclusion of Python isn't intended to take developers away from Java or J2ME. It's part of an effort to include more developers of different stripes.

"The better way to look at it is that the languages are not competing, rather it's just that there are more tools in the toolbox," Nokia's Smartt explained. "I think that Python appeals to a different group of developers than Java does."

Van Rossum thinks that there is room enough for both Java and Python in the mobile development space.

"While Java is currently ahead of Python in acceptance, Python has significant advantages in terms of learning curve and investment/effort required to obtain a working application," he said. "On a platform like this, there is room for thousands of "mini applications" -- in other words, 'scripts' -- most of which would remain unwritten if Java were the only programming choice."

Nokia's decision to make its devices open to Python is considered by van Rossum to be a significant development for the Python community.

"Nokia is an A-brand name, and their choosing Python makes us happy," van Rossum said. "Many Python users are interested in programming their mobile devices, and I expect that we'll see quite a few clever applications on the Nokia platform by Python users."

The most recent version of Python was released in November. Nokia's Python for the Series 60 Platform is available as a free download from Nokia.