[Python-Dev] Re: Stability and change

Christopher Petrilli petrilli@amber.org
Mon, 08 Apr 2002 13:52:56 -0400

On 4/8/02 1:35 PM, "Alex Martelli" <aleax@aleax.it> wrote:

> How would we get the people who won't use Python because they
> don't perceive it as stable enough for their needs to "clamor" for
> changes to its release tracks?-)  I can't "sell" Python to those people
> until I pass that roadblock.

I think those people for whom any backward incompatible change is anathema
must assume upon themselves the burden of maintenance of the code base.  I
have customers who are still on Solaris 2.7, but they know they can't buy
certain hardware and have it work.  Part of the burden of buying that new
hardware is upgrading their software to meet the requirements.

If you want something, sometimes you must make a sacrifice.  Obviously if
someone's software is totally functional on 2.1, then they are moving to 2.2
for one of a couple reasons:

    1) Fun
    2) They want something new

In the first case, I'm not terribly concerned with their pain.  In the
second, it is reasonable to expect them to make a sacrifice in exchange for
the benefit.  It's a simple cost-benefit analysis.

I want feature X, but to get feature X, will require me to invest Y amount
of time.  Do the two offset each other?

> A majority of EXISTING users, or a majority of those we COULD have
> with more language stability?-)
> We can please BOTH... by doing dual tracks...

I'd argue that there is a high percentage of users for whom nothing will
ever make them happy, these are the fickle users.  They are the ones who
have 12 different Linux distributions installed, sweat as to when their 8
year old ISA Ethernet board will be supported, and altogether find more use
in whining than in doing.  These are the people who complain because it
makes them feel important.  Usually they're confined to talking head shows
on TV, but often they spill into other venues, like UseNet.

All changes should be backed up by rational justifications, not just "we
could have more users".  To take a business approach, if we acquire a sudden
jump of 10% in the user community, but we find a 50% annual churn rate in
that new boost, have we in-fact garnered anything?  Or would be better
targeting a 5% growth where we can have a 10% churn.

In the end, I'd like to see something more concrete than speculation if
we're going to change behavior.  I'm not opposed to a new model, I just want
to understand what it gains in more concrete terms.  Speculation as to what
the user wants gets you Microsoft Bob.