[Distutils] Improving distutils vs redesigning it (was people want CPAN)

Tres Seaver tseaver at palladion.com
Thu Nov 12 18:55:37 CET 2009

Hash: SHA1

David Cournapeau wrote:
> Tarek Ziadé wrote:
>> I want to improve Distutils, but not for the price of a complete drop.
>> I don't think the edge cases we
>> are discussing worth it, and I still fail to see why we can't work
>> them out in the context of the existing
>> tool.
> Well, the scientific python edge case is what Guido asked about in the
> original thread. That's our answer: we don't think something which is
> not fundamentally different than distutils will solve our problems. If
> you think that what we considered as fundamental issues are corner cases
> and implementation details, we can only agree to disagree, I guess.
> Now, it is legitimate to dismiss our use-cases as edge cases and not
> worthwhile to worry about. We are not certainly not as big as say the
> web development community. But the question was directed at us, as I
> understood it :)

FWIW, I am a web developer who agrees wholeheartedly that trying to fix
distutils incrementally is going to be way harder / more painful, and
take *much* longer, than writing something which abandons the "100%
backward compatibility" goal completely.  The phantom "distutils API"
doesn't exist, which means that almost any improvement (and I don't deny
that such improvements are possible) potentially breaks substantial
installed codebases.  In this sense, fixing distutils is like working
without tests, because you don't know until too late that you've broken

If we just don't call the new thing "distutils", we get to keep "100%
backward compatibility" for free:  people can begin switching to the new
thing incrementally / opportunistically, but their existing code doesn't
blow up.

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Tres Seaver          +1 540-429-0999          tseaver at palladion.com
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