[Python-Dev] webbrowser.py

Guido van Rossum guido@digicool.com
Tue, 23 Jan 2001 22:46:47 -0500

> Guido van Rossum <guido@digicool.com>:
> > Can you point me to docs explaining the meaning of the BROWSER
> > environment variable?  I've never heard of it...  The last new
> > environment variables I learned were PAGER and EDITOR, probably 15
> > years ago when 4.1BSD was released... :-)

ESR replies:
> You've never heard of BROWSER because I invented it and have not
> widely popularized it yet :-).  Ping knew about it either because he
> read the module code and saw that it was supposed to work, or because
> he remembered the design discussion when webbrowser.py was first
> implemented.
> I've had conversations with some key Perl and Tcl people (Larry Wall,
> Tom Christiansen, Clif Flynt) about the BROWSER convention, and they
> agree it's a good idea.  I'll probably hack support for it into Perl's
> browser launcher next.
> It's documented in the version of libwebbrowser.tex now in the CVS
> tree.

Grumble.  That wasn't the kind of answer I expected.  I don't like it
if Python is used as a wedge to get a particular thing introduced to
the rest of the world, no matter how useful it may seem at the time.
If something is already a popular convention, I'll happily adopt it,
but I'm not comfortable being put in front of somebody else's cart.
There just are too many carts that would like to be pulled by a horse
as strong as Python, and I don't want to take sides if I can avoid it.
BROWSER seems unlikely to take the world by storm and I don't feel I
need to be involved in the effort to get it accepted.

(And yes, I know there are enough cases where I *did* take sides.
There were some cases where I *do* want to take a side, and there were
some mistakes -- which is one of the reasons why I'm shy about taking
sides now.)

Anyway, shouldn't you also talk to the developers of packages like KDE
and Gnome?  Surely their users would like to be able to configure the
default webbrowser.  Talking just to the scripting language people
seems like you're thinking too small.  There must be lots of C apps
with the desire to invoke a browser.  Also Emacs, which has an
extensive list of browser-url-* functions (you might even learn a few
tricks from it about how to invoke various external browsers) but
AFAIK no default browser selection.

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)