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Trivia Tuesday: The Poetic Old West

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Tombstone is one of my favorite movies. As far as I can tell, it is mostly based on actual history, but compressed into a much shorter time period so it could all happen within a single movie. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday were indeed friends. A quote about Doc was attributed to Earp, “Although he sometimes drank three quarts of whiskey a day, he was the most skillful gambler, and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw.”

It's hard to pin down what Doc Holliday was really like, whether he was a generally peaceful educated man, or a scoundrel. He once said, "If you fellows have been hunted from one end of the country to the other as I have been, you’ll understand what a bad man’s reputation is built on. I’ve had credit for more killings than I ever dreamt of."

Doc Holliday died in Colorado. And, like in the movie, his last recorded words were when he supposedly looked at the toes of his bare feet and said something like, "Well, I'll be damned. Oh, this is funny." You could ask why he said that in a Trivial Pursuit game. According to some old west historians, he said that because he expected to die with his boots on. 

I regard his life to be Old West Poetry. It is a bit of a stretch, but I made it so that I could call attention to a project called "Poetry". 

You may recall a post I made about the programming language rust. I quickly became interested in learning it not because of the language, but because of the build system called cargo. The Cargo build system impressed me more than anything else about rust.

It turns out Python has a very similar build system called Poetry. So I can get the benefits of Cargo without abandoning my preferred language, Python. 

The introduction in the Poetry documentation reads "Poetry is a tool for dependency management and packaging in Python. It allows you to declare the libraries your project depends on and it will manage (install/update) them for you. Poetry offers a lockfile to ensure repeatable installs, and can build your project for distribution." 

Poetry is intuitive. Take a look at the commands and you'll see how similar it is to rust's cargo. And if you use Visual Studio Code, you'll be pleased to know that VS Code is Poetry-aware. I plan to write up my experience with Poetry and offer some tips. 

For now, though, I only caution that if you decide to try it, don't use Pip to install Poetry. Follow the installation instructions in the documentation. And if you don't have Python installed yet, don't install it from the Microsoft Store. Download and install Python from It will make your Poetic life easier. 

5 Replies 5

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Very cool Nick! I am sold on Poetry for the following reasons:

  • Poetry creates and manages a virtual environment for the project by default. 
  • Poetry is newer, actively developed and managed.
  • Poetry has a powerful and user-friendly command-line interface that makes it simpler to carry out routine chores like installing and upgrading packages. It is easier to understand what is happening while running commands because of the user-friendly interface's clear output.

Thanks for sharing.

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

As a kid, I used to watch those old Western shows like the Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Wild Wild West broadcasted from an American army base near China Beach. My all time favorite is 'The bad, the good, and the ugly'.  What was your favorite?

Yes, my favorite old western movie is the spaghetti western "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" too. I like the more recent "Unforgiven" even more. As for TV shows I remember liking The Rifleman, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel. I can't recall any of the actual plots, I just remember liking the shows. 

Sean Dahlberg
Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

I know a bit about pip but wasn't as familiar with Poetry (but I poked around after reading your topic). It looks like pip is better for when you want a simple, lightweight tool for installing and managing Python packages, but Poetry is something to consider when you're looking for a tool that focuses on packaging, dependency management, and you want to use a different file format for storing dependencies.

Does that sound about right?

As for Tombstone, one of my favorite movies! I don't believe most people realize this, but it was released on December 24, 1993. Because of that, it has also become a holiday movie for my family so we see it at least once a year.


Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

Yep. Pip is for simple installation of packages and Poetry is more for a project with many dependencies.  Poetry also replaces Pipenv for virtual env.  Poetry is also more helpful in isolating packages and avoiding version conflicts in the python files and projects. If you use VS code then I think the Poetry extension will handle everything automagically and you don't need to go back to Pip.

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