[Import-SIG] What if namespace imports weren't special?

Eric Snow ericsnowcurrently at gmail.com
Mon Jul 11 09:07:49 CEST 2011

On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 8:34 PM, P.J. Eby <pje at telecommunity.com> wrote:
> I think one reason we're having trouble with naming and explaining this
> whole concept is that, really, the current Python import system is broken,
> compared to other languages.
> In at least Perl, PHP, and Java, you don't have to do anything special to
> merge components in a single namespace from multiple parts of the
> class/include/autoload path.  We are thus having trouble trying to come up
> with a special name to describe these, when from a more objective
> perspective, what we are describing are "normal packages", with what Python
> has now being "restricted to a single directory packages".
> It's for this reason that all packages being namespaces doesn't bother me
> for the term.  All packages *should* be namespace packages, pretty much.
>  It's the *non* namespaceyness of Python's default packages that's broken,
> not the term.  ;-)
> If there really was a time machine, I like to think we'd go back and get
> Python's package import mechanism to just work this way from the outset
> (i.e. always combining shards across sys.path), and perhaps use the presence
> of .py[cod]/.so files as an indication of package-ness -- if indeed an
> indication is needed at all.
> Actually...  here's an interesting idea.  Suppose that we define the rules
> so that any directory containing any file with an importable extension is a
> namespace package...  *but*, if one of those directories contains an
> __init__ module, that directory will be placed first on the package
> __path__.
> See, the reason why dropping the need for __init__ was previously rejected
> was because it meant you could block the importing of a package later on the
> path.  *But*, if we always put the segment with __init__ first on the
> __path__, then any such blocking directories would not block the "real"
> package -- they'd just be accessible for imports.

> If we did that, then there would be no need for any special flag files, and
> no need for special terminology.

Would it be a problem to lose the filename that indicates where the
portion/partition came from?


>  The protocol in my draft would remain
> basically the same, except for moving the __init__ module's subpath to the
> front of __path__.  And instead of globbing for *.pypart or whatever,
> importers would just check whether there was a directory there at all.
> The only backward compatibility that this can break is that you can import
> things you couldn't import before.  So, if you had a foo/bar.py, with 'foo'
> in a sys.path directory, and you also had a 'foo' package, AND you relied on
> 'import foo.bar' raising an error, then it would no longer do so.  But, if
> you *had* a foo.bar module before, then under this scheme, 'import foo.bar'
> would still import the exact same file it did before, so nothing changes.
> In other words, the first subdirectory with an __init__ gets to head up the
> new package's __path__, but ALL matching subdirectories will make up the
> tail.
> The big advantage of this approach is that it doesn't require us to have a
> special name - it's just, "Enhanced Package Imports" or some such.  No
> special marker files to name, either.  Just, "hey, people want to put their
> package contents in more than one directory, and they don't always need an
> __init__.py."
> Thoughts, anyone?
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