[Distutils] Immutability of Release Metadata in Warehouse

Donald Stufft donald at stufft.io
Tue Dec 19 14:43:41 EST 2017

For those who are not aware, legacy PyPI would allow you to run ``twine register`` on a release that had already been created in order to modify the metadata that PyPI had recorded for that release (keyed by version number). This wasn’t a super widely used feature, but it’s primary use case was when folks would mistakenly release a project that had a broken description that wouldn’t correctly render on PyPI. With the move from the legacy PyPI code base to Warehouse for handling uploads, this feature had been somewhat inadvertently lost.

This issue was raised in https://github.com/pypa/warehouse/issues/2170 <https://github.com/pypa/warehouse/issues/2170>. This email is provide notice that after thinking about this issue for awhile, we’re *not* going to restore the ability to modify the metadata associated with a release after it has been uploaded.The eventual goal is that it should be ideally possible to treat the files that are on PyPI as the source of truth for all metadata, and that the data stored in the database is simply an optimization for accessing and presenting that data on PyPI. Obviously if we allow modifications to the metadata as stored in the PyPI database, that would allow this metadata to “drift” from what is actually stored in the files, which would prevent that goal from being realized.

It is true that even with this change, there is not a guarantee that the metadata in the database does not match what is in the file(s) that have been uploaded to PyPI, even going into the future. Thus the decision to not restore this feature is not the only step on the way to being able to assert this guarantee, but it is *one* of them.

The most common reason for wanting to modify any metadata after the fact is to fix typos etc that made it into the description prior to publication. It is our opinion that the best way to handle these is to either cut a new release (it can be a post release if that’s all that has changed) or to validate the description field prior to publication (which can currently be done using readme_renderer or restview). Longer term we also plan to introduce the ability to “stage” releases so that releases and files can be uploaded to a temporary location within Warehouse, and visible with a special URL to allow people to manually validate the actual bits that were uploaded before pushing a “finalize” or “publish” button that would flip it from being a mutable, hidden release to an immutable, publicly viewable release.

If folks have other use cases where they’ve used the ability to modify release metadata after it had been released that they feel is an important enough use case that it needs to be supported in some way, please let us know either in this thread or by opening an issue on https://github.com/pypa/warehouse <https://github.com/pypa/warehouse> so we can figure out if it’s something we want to support, if one of the other mechanisms we’re planning on adding will support it, or if there is some new mechanism we can add that can support it better.
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