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Couple more thoughts to add to yesterday's:
- Decoupling DU build procedures from DU installation procedures also
implies delegating control of building and installing to separate
scripts (e.g. 'build.py', 'install.py'), rather than having a single
'setup.py' script doing double duty. Superficially this may sound
like it's creating more(!) work for module developers, but bear in
mind my goal of making these scripts more generic so that in most
cases the module developer can simply [re]use existing ones rather
than have to code new versions each time.
- Regarding the "human-readable flag" aspect of setup.py, as this
does cause some concern... In an _ideal_ world, the absence of a
setup.py script would simply indicate that a module could be
installed via a generic installation process. This _not_ being an
ideal world, however (i.e. non-DU-compatible modules also lack a
setup.py script, making it hard to tell the two forms apart), there's
no reason a standard 'install.py' script couldn't always be included.
Also, removing metadata from setup scripts means that most of the
time 'install.py' will be a completely generic script that can be
automatically added to the .zip at build-time; one less thing for the
module developer to have to do themselves.
Sorry for slow reply; was a bit unwell over weekend. Will attempt a
point-by-point response per topic later if feeling brave <g> (yipe!
lots of replies). Meantime, here's a more general response to some of
the areas of discussion/concern that I've picked up on so far:
- Regarding standard package managers on *nix systems (which I've not
used): does DU intend to wrap these, or plug into them? Current
impression is it's the former; in which case, what's the reasoning
for this? I'd have thought it'd make more sense for a system's native
package manager to "be in charge", as it were, with DU only acting
under their control. BTW, I've no objection to folks using package
managers that want to use them; equally, I don't believe folks should
_have_ to use them (e.g. because runaway complexity or rampant
lock-in makes any other approach impossible). DU should be able to
scale up as far as the user wants; but it shouldn't start "high up".
Nothing's worse than systems that bury themselves (and their users!)
under the weight of their own complexity.
- Regarding target layout: I realise it's not DU's position to
_dictate_ layout to systems. What I'm thinking is the packaging
scheme should be 1. simple, 2. standardised, 3. self-contained, 4. a
good 'default' layout. Distributing every Python module/extension as
a Python package (aside from eliminating the confusion over what
"package" actually means, since the word is currently used to mean
two different things) would allow DU to invert the current
distribution format and thereby eliminate a level of folder nesting
(simpler) and provide a more convenient 'all-in-one' format to kick
around on a typical system without losing anything (self-contained).
Folk who are happy with that layout (e.g. would the average
Mac/Windows user want/need to break the package up?) need do nothing
more (good 'default' layout). Folk on *nix systems who want to move
the 'doc' folder to /usr/share/doc/ are free to do so (though copying
or symlinking it might be better), and, given a standardised layout,
a generic installer script could easily perform that operation.
(Ironically, I don't think it's the system's position to _dictate_
layout to users either... but arguing with *nix's OCD tendencies is,
I suppose, ultimately fruitless; it is what it is. [Roll on
relational file systems...:p])
- Regarding "integration": there are good and bad ways to integrate
systems. Examples of good: small, distributed, single-task components
linkable via unix pipes, Apple events, etc. Examples of bad: vast,
centralised (Soviet bloc-style), "do-it-all" frameworks full of
wrapper classes round every other system imaginable and more kitchen
sinks than you can count; inevitably end up riddled with ultra-tight
coupling, dependencies up the wazoo, and for all the supposed "power"
never quite manage to do what you want (inflexible). (e.g. See Python
web framework arena for examples of latter.)
- On splitting various roles of setup.py into individual scripts
(/src/build.py, /doc/build.py, etc.): aim isn't directly to simplify
things for developer/user. It's to decouple each functional unit of
DU, and establish small, simple, open, "generic" interfaces between
them. This will make each DU component easier for DU developers to
work on, and easier for DU users to "plug-n-play" with. e.g. DU has a
good extension building component that could and should stand on its
own (it may even find uses outside of DU itself), and be easily
replaceable with alternative build components (based on makefiles,
scons, etc.); this "ext_build" component would simply become "one of
the boys" - a peer to all the others, rather than their master (with
all the additional responsibility and complexity that involves).
Create "modest", not "Macbeth", code.
- On setup.py providing a very useful indication that "this is a
DU-installable package": good point; noted. Any system where setup.py
wasn't ubiquitous would want to provide an equivalent "user-readable
flag", as it were. (Standardised file+folder structure, presence of
standard metadata and readme files, etc.)
- Regarding manifests: stupid, brain-dead, error-prone,
anal-retentive, make-work garbage. These _should_ be eliminated. This
will do two things: 1. allow a very simple, sensible "default"
package building behaviour to be instituted (i.e. zip the entire
folder by default); 2. allow for more intelligent customisation of
package building behaviour by DU users, who should be able to give
"smart" instructions like "build package including every item whose
extension is not in ["pyc", "so"]", instead of having to provide and
tediously maintain a "dumb" list of filenames.
- On metadata formats: don't really care what format is used as long
as it is simple, human-readable and -writeable, easily
machine-parseable, and sufficiently powerful to represent package
metadata. (e.g. Not sure if standard Mime-like format used for
PKG-INFO is up to the task: can it do nested structures and lists?
Format I suggested can do this, and is simple enough that its
'non-standardness' should not present any problems for adoption.) Oh,
and a standard meta.txt file in every package means PKG-INFO can also
be gotten rid of (it's nowt but a weak, clumsy bit of duplicated data
- On PEP262 elimination: again, if users want to create and maintain
their own database of installed packages using existing package
manager tools then that's their choice. What's important is that this
should not be the "default" arrangement, for reasons I've already
given (synchronisation issues, etc.). By putting metadata into every
Python package in the filesystem and building an API for retrieving
that data directly from those packages, you have a solid
"lowest-common-denominator" foundation that can also meet the
majority of users' needs for no additional effort. For folk who like
to maintain a separate DB for efficiency (e.g. on NFS), it also
provides them the means to easily build that DB given an existing
installation, not to mention an easy way to rebuild it after it goes
- Basically, goals are: power thru flexibility; flexibility thru
simplicity; simplicity thru decentralisation. Have simple, sensible,
effortless defaults (though don't prevent user customising these).
Decouple different functional areas. Increase genericity. Play nice
with others (i.e. should cooperate with them, not boss them around).
Normalise metadata structures and format.
p.s. If anyone can point me to good examples of DU-based binary
distributions, I'd like to take a look to help my understanding,
From: Mark W. Alexander [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> In my view of the perfect world, the OS tools would deal with
> dependencies based on the metadata provided by the binary packages.
> Since Windows does not provide that ability natively, then Distutils
> need not try to extend Windows to include it.
That (including the trimmed bit) sounds exactly right to me.
> This is why I believe the core value of Distutils is the simple
> management of package metadata. Building, installing or making binary
> packages are all actions based on the supplied metadata. How the
> result is integrated into any particular platform should be as native
> as possible for each platform.
Exactly. And (IMHO) that is the key strength of the bdist_wininst
command - it fits in with the existing Windows infrastructure (limited
though that may be). I've no experience with distutils on non-Windows
platforms, but I'd instinctively look for a platform-native bdist option
(bdist_rpm, bdist_dpkg, whatever).
Even if I have a pure Python package, I always go via bdist_wininst and
an OS-level install. I *never* do python setup.py install. Just because
of the OS integration. (And this is from someone with an instinctive
mistrust of installers, due to long experience with buggy Windows
installers for other packages!)
(On Windows, it may be worth adding a bdist_msi command, to use the MS
installer infrastructure, but I don't personally know if that adds
enough value to justify the work involved. I'm not familiar enough with
the MSI format).
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