[Doc-SIG] Why isn't docutils in the Python standard library yet?

engelbert gruber grubert at users.sourceforge.net
Sun Jan 4 14:03:52 CET 2009

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 4:15 AM, Jeff Rush <jeff at taupro.com> wrote:
> ex cord wrote:
>> I notice that the Python documentation is written in reStructuredText,
>> but that docutils is not part of the Python standard library. Is there
>> any reason why docutils doesn't come stock with Python? Is it missing
>> critical features? What's holding it back?
> There is a document outlining what needs to be improved in docutils before it
> is ready for inclusion in the standard library:
> http://docutils.sourceforge.net/docs/dev/todo.html#minimum-requirements-for-python-standard-library-candidacy
> or if that URL causes you trouble, the same page using tinyurl:
> http://tinyurl.com/862f3e
>> For comparison, when you install Perl, the basic tools for reading POD
>> (and converting it to other formats) come standard. And this is
>> *Perl*, where there's supposed to be more than one way to do it and
>> they very rarely impose any standard way to do anything upon the user.

as reStructured text is readable without tools, if you look at old README files
the look similar, so in fact no tool is required. POD has more markup even for
simple files.

and of course david has set the bar for inclusion really high.

>> Quick observation to mention: I can't remember the last time I looked
>> at the docs for a Python distribution and they weren't formatted in
>> reStructuredText.
> Also remember that some projects do not want to be included in the standard
> library because they have different release cycles and bug trackers.
> That said, I look forward to the day it is included as it has become a key
> part of so much I do these days.  There are parts of docutils showing their
> age that need work, support for eggs-based plugins that has caused several
> public problems re pathing conflicts, folding in the excellent work done in
> the Sphinx framework for marking up Python, which needs to be added to the
> wiki page:
>   http://docutils.sf.net/sandbox/README.html#documenting-python
> It seems the set of developers is too small.  Certainly with David Goodger (a
>  major force behind docutils) acting as chair of PyCon last year and this
> year, and taking on as of Dec 2008 a full-time position with the PSF, there is
> a need for additional developers to come forward and get excited about the
> possibilities.
> -Jeff
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