On Friday 01 June 2007, BJörn Lindqvist wrote:
Patches are applied once, but thousands of people read the code in the standard library each month. The standard library should be as readable as possible to make it as easy as possible to maintain. It is just good software development methodology.
Rest assured, I understand your sentiment here, and am not personally against an occaissional clean-up. ConfigParser in particular is old and highly idiosyncratic.
Many parts of the standard library are arcane and almost impossible to understand (see httplib for example) because refactoring changes are Not done. So if someone wants to improve the code why not let them?
Changes in general are a source of risk; they have to be considered carefully. We've seen too many cases in which a change was thought to be safe, but broke something for someone. Avoiding style-only changes helps avoid introducing problems without being able to predict them; there are tests for ConfigParser, but it's hard to be sure every corner case has been covered.
This is a general policy in the Python project, not simply my preference. I'd love to be able to say "yes, the code is painful to read, let's make it nicer", but it's hard to say that without being able to say "I'm sure it won't break anything for anybody." Python's too flexible for that to be easy.