[Distutils] People want CPAN :-)

Tarek Ziadé ziade.tarek at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 02:06:39 CET 2009

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 1:01 AM, Kaelin Colclasure <kaelin at acm.org> wrote:
> On Nov 6, 2009, at 3:54 PM, Tarek Ziadé wrote:
>> 2009/11/7 Kaelin Colclasure <kaelin at acm.org>:
>> [...]
>>> As both a CPAN contributor and a recent PyPI contributor I think I can
>>> speak
>>> to this:
>>> When I packaged my first Perl module for CPAN distribution, there was no
>>> question about how to go about it. There was a clear recipe and it worked
>>> without a hitch the first time I tried.
>>> When I recently packaged my first Python module for PyPI I was a bit
>>> dismayed to learn that easy_install is just one of several ways to
>>> disseminate Python code. The documentation is fragmented... The stuff I
>>> read
>>> on easy_install basically assumed you already knew all about distutils,
>>> and
>>> I eventually had to reorganize my code from a simple module to a package
>>> just to get a few non-code files to be pulled in by the install. A less
>>> persistent would-be contributor might have given up in frustration.
>>> I joined this mailing list instead, and got my package working with some
>>> kind assistance. :-) But CPAN was just easier to contribute to.
>> What was in particular, the pieces missing in Distutils (doc+code)
>> that made you use Setuptools (doc+code) ?
> Since I bootstrapped the environment I used to learn Python with
> easy_install, I naturally went straight to the easy_install docs to learn
> how to give back. I wasn't even aware of this separate thing called
> distutils until I read about it in the easy_install (err setuptools)
> documentation (sic).

Yes, that the great thing *and* the bad thing about Setuptools. It
provided missing features and boostraps
what people needed on the top of Distutils. But in the meantime, it
makes it fuzzy for the end-user that there are two projects, and for
him to understand what's from the Distutils project and what's from
the Setuptools project.

What is clear for us though, is that we need to change Distutils
w.r.t. the Setuptools experience feedback.

For the code part, PEP 376 is one important work.
(http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0376/), it enhances Distutils
with a lot of ideas that were taken from Setuptools (with its author
help), and also adds missing features
we need (like an uninstall command).

For the documentation part I am afraid it will be messy for the end
users trying to package apps in Python *until* all PEPs
have made it into Python.

Although, as Ian Bicking says: we could write today some kind of
all-in-one tutorial so end-users can work out without having to run
after the documenation in several places.


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