On Mon, Dec 28, 2020 at 12:15 PM Christopher Barker <pythonchb@gmail.com> wrote:

I don't know about the OP, but all I wanted was a clear definition of the part of the API needed to support **, and apparently it's a keys() method that returns an iterator of the keys, and a __getitem__ that then returns the values associated with those keys. Which is fine.

Though frankly, I would rather have had it use .items() -- seems more efficient to me, and you do need both the keys and the values, and items() is just as much part of the Mapping API as keys.

There may be a (small) performance issue with that -- items() requires creating a tuple object for each key/value pair.

Anyway, of course it's too late to change. And there are probably other "protocols" that check for the presence of keys and __getitem__(). Also, in a sense keys() is more fundamental -- deriving keys() from items() would be backwards (throwing away the values -- imagine a data type that stores the values on disk).
But there is an argument that the ** operator should be able to be supported only with dunder methods -- which could be done if it used the iterator protocol to get the keys, rather than the keys() method, which does not appear to work now. though to be fair, all you need to do to get that is add a __len__ and derive from Mapping.

If we had to do it all over from scratch we would probably design mappings and sequences to be differentiably using dunders only. But it's about 31 years too late for that. And looking at the mess JavaScript made of this (sequences are mappings with string keys "0", "1" and so on), I'm pretty happy with how Python did this.

--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)