[Python-Dev] A house upon the sand

Mark Lutz lutz@rmi.net
Sat, 25 Nov 2000 08:12:56 -0700

Hi again Guido,

On a totally unrelated topic: has anyone pushed the idea of a
Python language standard lately?  Things seem to be changing too
fast for many developers to keep up, and it seems to me that a
formal standard doc might help ease a few fears I've seen out 
there.  Books used to be a sort of de facto standard, but even
they aren't reliable anymore; and the manuals aren't useful as a 
standard if they are open to arbitrary change every few months.

Frankly, some people in my classes are very concerned by the rapid 
pace of Python change, and I think their fear is justified.  I get 
burned a little almost every time a new Python release rolls out
too.  Most recently, some new book examples that worked in 1.5.2 
this summer no longer work under 2.0 this fall; I understand that
most changes are improvements (and minor), but this is not a great
story to tell.

A prime example: the string module, used in almost every Python 
program ever written by the half-million Python users out there,
has suddenly been marked as deprecated.  I expect that it won't 
really go away, but has anyone considered the impact of even the
suggestion of its deprecation on Python's acceptance?

If using Python requires that programmers invest lots of time 
tracking the whims of python-dev, then Python will become much 
less useful, imo.  Most developers just don't have the extra time
to spare.  A formal standard doc could give us at least a baseline
Python definition that developers could cling to.  Companies need 
to see a solid and reliable foundation.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time or interest in pushing this
idea through to fruition myself.  Do you have any ideas along these 
lines?  Maybe this task belongs in whatever body eventually takes 
over ownership.  I'm copying this to python-dev in the hopes that 
it might trigger some sort of discussion.

--Mark Lutz  (http://rmi.net/~lutz)