[Python-Dev] What does "batteries are included" mean?

Eric S. Raymond esr@thyrsus.com
Tue, 23 Jan 2001 07:20:46 -0500

M.-A. Lemburg <mal@lemburg.com>:
> > But the wider question here is how seriously we take "batteries are
> > included" as a design principle.  Does a facility have to be useful
> > *every day* to be worth being in the standard library?  And if so,
> > what are things like the POP3 and IMAP libraries (or, for that matter,
> > my own shlex and netrc modules) doing there?
> You can argue the same way for all kinds of extensions and
> packages you find in the Vaults. That's why there's demand for
> a different packaging of Python and this is what Moshe's
> PEP 206 addresses:
> 	http://python.sourceforge.net/peps/pep-0206.html

Muttering "PEP 206" evades the fundamental problem rather than solving it.

Not that I'm saying Moshe hasn't made a valiant effort, within the political
constraint that the BDFL and others seem unwilling to confront the deeper 
issue.  But PEP 206 is not enough.  Here is why:

1. If the "Sumo" packaging ever happens, the vanilla non-Sumo version that
Guido issues will quickly become of mostly theoretical interest -- because
Red Hat and everybody else will move to Sumo instantly, figuring they have
nothing to lose by including more features.

2. If by some change I'm wrong about 1, the outcome will be worse;
we'll in effect have fragmented the language, because there won't be
consistency in what library stuff is available between Sumo and
non-Sumo builds on the same platform.

3. There are documentation issues as well.  It's already a blot on
Python that the standard documentation set doesn't cover Tkinter.  In
the Sumo distribution, the gap between what's installed and what's
documented is likely to widen further.  Developers will see this as
pointlessly irritating -- and they'll be right.

The stock distribution should *be* the Sumo distribution.  If we're really
so terrified of the extra maintainence load, then the right fix is to
mark some modules and documentation as "externally maintained" with 
prominent pointers back to the responsible people.
		<a href="http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme
Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the
fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
	-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823