[I18n-sig] Re: [Python-Dev] Unicode Maintenance

M.-A. Lemburg mal@lemburg.com
Thu, 28 Jun 2001 11:04:07 +0200

Guido van Rossum wrote:
> > Looking at the recent burst of checkins for the Unicode implementation
> > completely bypassing the standard SF procedure and possible comments
> > I might have on the different approaches, I guess I've been ruled out
> > as maintainer and designer of the Unicode implementation.
> >
> > Well, I guess that's how things go. Was nice working for you guys,
> > but no longer is... I'm tired of having to defend myself against
> > meta-comments about the design, uncontrolled checkins and no true
> > backup about my standing in all this from Guido.
> >
> > Perhaps I am misunderstanding the role of a maintainer and
> > implementation designer, but as it is all respect for the work I've
> > put into all this seems faded. That's the conclusion I draw from recent
> > postings by Martin and Fredrik and their nightly "takeover".
> >
> > Thanks,
> > --
> > Marc-Andre Lemburg
> [For those of us to whom Marc-Andre's complaint comes as a total
> surprise: there was a thread on i18n-sig about whether we should
> support Unicode surrogates, followed by a conclusion to skip
> surrogates and jump directly to optional support for UCS-4, followed
> by some checkins that enabled a configuration choice between UCS-2 and
> UCS-4, and code to make it work.  As a side effect, surrogate support
> in the UCS-2 version actually improved slightly.]
> Now, now, Marc-Andre.
> The only comments I recall from you on my "surrogates: just say no"
> post seemed favorable, except that you proposed to to all the way and
> make UCS-4 mandatory.  I explained why I didn't want to go that far,
> and why I didn't believe your arguments against giving users a choice.
> I didn't hear back from you then, and I didn't think you could have
> much of a problem with my position.
> Our process requires the use of the SF patch manager only for
> controversial changes.  Based on your feedback, I didn't think there
> was anything controversial about the changes that Fredrik and Martin
> have made!  (If there was, IMO it was temporarily breaking the Windows
> build and the test suite -- but that's all fixed now.)
> I don't understand where you get the idea that we lost respect for
> your work!  In fact, the fact that it was so easy to make the changes
> suggested to me that the original design was well suited to this
> particular change (as opposed to the surrugate support proposals,
> which all sounded like they would require a *lot* of changes).
> I don't think that we have very strict roles in this community anyway.
> (My role as BDFL excluded -- that's why I get to write this
> response. :-)  I'd say that Fredrik owns SRE, because he has asserted
> that ownership at various times: he's undone changes by others that
> broke the 1.5.2 support, for example.
> But the Unicode support in Python isn't owned by one person: many
> folks have contributed to that, including Fredrik, who designed and
> wrote the original Unicode string object implementation.
> If you have specific comments about the changes made, please be
> specific.  If you feel slighted by meta-comments, please also be
> specific.  I don't think I've said anything derogatory about you or
> your design.

You didn't get my point. I feel responsable for the Unicode 
implementation design and would like to see it become a continued
success. In that sense and taking into account that I am the
maintainer of all this stuff, I think it is very reasonable to 
ask me before making any significant changes to the implementation
and also respect any comments I put forward.

Currently, I have to watch the checkins list very closely
to find out who changed what in the implementation and then to
take actions only after the fact. Since I'm not supporting Unicode
as my full-time job this is simply impossible. We have the SF manager
and there is really no need to rush anything around here. 

If I am offline or too busy with other things for a day or two, 
then I want to see patches on SF and not find new versions of 
the implementation already checked in. 

This has worked just fine during the last year, so I can only explain 
the latest actions in this direction with an urge to bypass my comments
and any discussion this might cause. Needless to say that
quality control is not possible anymore.

I am not going to continue this work if this does not change.

Another other problem for me is the continued hostility I feel on i18n
against parts of the design and some of my decisions. I am
not talking about your feedback and the feedback from many other
people on the list which was excellent and to high standards. 
But reading the postings of the last few months you will
find notices of what I am referring to here (no, I don't want 
to be specific).

If people don't respect my comments or decision, then how can
I defend the design and how can I stop endless discussions which
simply don't lead anywhere ? So either I am missing something
or there is a need for a clear statement from you about
my status in all this.

If I don't have the right to comment on proposals and patches,
possibly even rejecting them, then I simply don't see any
ground for keeping the implementation in a state which I can

And last but not least: The fun-factor has faded which was
the main motor driving my into working on Unicode in the first
place. Nothing much you can do about this, though :-/

> Paul Prescod offered to write a PEP on this issue.  My cynical half
> believes that we'll never hear from him again, but my optimistic half
> hopes that he'll actually write one, so that we'll be able to discuss
> the various issues for the users with the users.  I encourage you to
> co-author the PEP, since you have a lot of background knowledge about
> the issues.

I guess your optimistic half won :-) I think Paul already did all the
work, so I'll simply comment on what he wrote.
> BTW, I think that Misc/unicode.txt should be converted to a PEP, for
> the historic record.  It was very much a PEP before the PEP process
> was invented.  Barry, how much work would this be?  No editing needed,
> just formatting, and assignment of a PEP number (the lower the better).

Thanks for converting the text to PEP format, Barry.

Thanks for reading this far,
Marc-Andre Lemburg
CEO eGenix.com Software GmbH
Company & Consulting:                           http://www.egenix.com/
Python Software:                        http://www.lemburg.com/python/