[Distutils] distlib and wheel metadata

Vinay Sajip vinay_sajip at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Feb 14 14:40:56 EST 2017

> Nope.  Honestly, though, I wish there was *one* *library* that defined the standard,
> which was the case for setuptools for a while (yeah, I know, the warts, really, I know)
> because I really don't think there's a desire to innovate or a reason for competition
> at this level.  In the case of wheel, perhaps it makes sense for that implementation to
> be authoritative.

The problem, to me, is not whether it is authoritative - it's more that it's ad hoc, just like
setuptools in some areas. For example, the decision to use "metadata.json" rather than
"pydist.json" is arbitrary, and could change in the future, and anyone who relies on how things
work now will have to play catch-up when that happens. That's sometimes just too much work for
volunteer activity - dig into what the problem is, put through a fix (for now), rinse and
repeat - all the while, little or no value is really added.

In theory this is an "infrastructure" area where a single blessed implementation might be OK,
but these de facto tools don't do everything one wants, so interoperability remains important.
There's no reason why we shouldn't look to innovate even in this area - there's some talk of a
GSoC project now to look at dependency resolution for pip - something that I had sort-of working
in the distil tool long ago (as a proof of concept) [1]. We've gotten so used to how pip and
setuptools work, and because they are "good enough", there is a real failure of imagination
to see how things might be done better.


Vinay Sajip

[1] https://distil.readthedocs.io/en/0.1.0/overview.html#actual-improvements

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