[Distutils] disappointed by setupTools

Pierre Imbaud pierre at saiph.com
Mon Oct 16 22:57:56 CEST 2006

Im a little bit disappointed by setupTools. Not that much the tool itself,
than the learning curve.
Maybe the problem at hand is far from simple, and thats what makes the
solution so intricate.
http://peak.telecommunity.com/DevCenter/setuptools: this document is
100 pages long! (by page I mean: full screen).
easyInstall is 40 pages.
I spent about 3 days to figure out what goes where. And I realize Im
not done.
Yet the documentation is remarkable, great presentation, text is
precise and clear, when U read it. Makes U feel guilty U dont find
what U lookin for, but U dont find it.

I just discovered scripts dont get installed directly (in
/usr/local/bin), instead a wrapper in installed, that calls the
script. So an extra file is involved, and extra code, every time the
script is called. Makes some overhead, and it breaks a simple
mechanism I use: my script is able to perform many actions, based on
its name (much like cp, mv and ln are the same executable). at
install, I need to make symlinks to the script, one per action, and
this was automated: this is broken by the wrapping. No big deal, just
makes things less simple.
Good tools have 2 qualities:
- When U need simple things, its easy to use.
- When U need more sophisticated things, U dont need to give up the
   tool for a more powerful one: just have to use extra features.
Python is a wonderful illustration of this.
While setupTools obviously provides the latter, I consider it fails on
the former.
I decided to use setupTools after reading, and failing to understand,
distutils. setupTools seemed both more powerful and simpler.
Probably this choice will save me some trouble later. Im not sure it
helped so far.

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