[Python-Dev] Summary for 2002-11-01 through 2002-11-15

Brett Cannon brett@python.org
Sat, 16 Nov 2002 00:28:01 -0800 (PST)

Yes, it's that time of the month folks!  I am back in case you didn't
notice and thus so is the Summary as penned by me.  As usual I am giving
the list 24 hours or so to find out how bad of a reporter I am and correct
me in all manners and ways.


This is a summary of traffic on the `python-dev mailing list`_ between
November 1, 2002 and November 15, 2002 (inclusive).  It is intended to
inform the wider Python community of on-going developments on the list
that might interest the wider Python community.  To comment on anything
mentioned here, just post to python-list@python.org or comp.lang.python in
the usual way; give your posting a meaningful subject line, and if it's
about a PEP, include the PEP number (e.g. Subject: PEP 201 - Lockstep
iteration). All python-dev members are interested in seeing ideas
discussed by the community, so don't hesitate to take a stance on
something.  And if all of this really interests you then get involved and
join Python-dev!

This is the fifth summary written by Brett Cannon (after a relaxing two
week hiatus; thanks to Raymond Hettinger for doing the Summary while I was

All summaries are now archived at http://www.python.org/dev/summary/
(thanks to A.M. Kuchling for setting that up).

Please note that this summary is written using reStructuredText_ which can
be found at http://docutils.sf.net/rst.html .  Any unfamiliar punctuation
is probably markup for reST_; you can safely ignore it (although I suggest
learning reST; its simple and is accepted for PEP markup).  Also, because
of the wonders of reformatting thanks to whatever program you are using to
read this, I cannot guarantee you will be able to run the text version of
this summary through Docutils_ as-is.  If you want to do that, get an
original copy of the text file.

.. _python-dev mailing list:
.. _Docutils: http://docutils.sf.net/
.. _reST:
.. _reStructuredText: http://docutils.sf.net/rst.html

Summary Announcements

Not much to say for this summary.  The only thread skipped that someone
out there might care about was one on getting the PEPs to display properly
for IE 6 when the PEP was written in reST_.

Thanks goes to Raymond Hettinger for covering the Summary while I was away
on vacation.  Thanks also goes out to Laura Creighton and Guido for
suggesting graduate schools that are Python-friendly.

`Getting python-bz2 into 2.3`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029830.html


Gustavo Niemeyer asked how he should go about getting his python-bz2_
module into the standard library.  He was basically told to submit a patch
complete with the module, docs, regression tests, etc.; everything a
healthy module needs.  It was also suggested that he provide a MSVC
project file.

The didn't work for Gustavo (who now has CVS write priveleges; congrats)
since he doesn't use Windows.  This was a slight problem because if the
extension file doesn't build under Windows it can't be included in the
PythonLabs Windows distro.  So keep in mind that if your module won't
directly compile for 6 different versions of Windows it won't be included
in the Windows distro.

.. _python-bz2: http://python-bz2.sourceforge.net/

`Becoming a python contributor`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029831.html


Gustavo Niemeyer asked about how he could help contribute to Python.  He
made the observation that "Guido and others [have been] bothered a few
times because of the lack of man power" which has led to a "small core of
very busy developers working on core/essential/hard stuff *and* in code
reviewing as well" (and I can attest to this fact that this is very true;
I am amazed the guys at PythonLabs have any form of a life outside of work
with the amount of time they put in).  Gustavo felt "that the Python
development is currently overly centralized".

Martin v. Loewis responded first.  He said that "the most important aspect
I'd like to hand off is the review of patches; to Tim, it is the analysis
of bug reports".  Martin then listed various points on how to be able to
review a patch and how to handle bug reports; the email is at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029831.html .  I
*highly* recommend reading the email because Martin's points are all good
and more patch reviewers would be rather nice.

M.A. Lemburg commented next, saying that he "wouldn't mind if other
developers with some time at hand jump in on already assigned patches and
bug reports to help out".  Just because a patch has been assigned to
someone doesn't mean the patch or the assignee couldn't use more help.
Having the patch assigned to someone just means that they take
responsibility to apply the patch if it is worthy of being accepted or to
reject it.  It should not stop other people from making comments or
helping out so that the assignee can have a little bit of time saved for
other things... like another patch to assign to themselves.  MAL also
suggested that we have more maintainers that are in charge of chunks of
code, e.g. Martin handles all locale code.

Martin disagreed with this idea, though.  Jack Jansen agreed with Martin.
He thought that if something came up that was not within the realm of a
specific person that it "either get[s] ignored, or passed on to Guido, or
picked up by yourself or Michael [Hudson] or one of the very few other
people who do general firefighting".  Martin commented later that he would
hope that the stewardship of specific code does not get anymore formal.

Martin then stated how one goes about getting commit priveleges for Python
on SF: "just step forward and say that you want. In the past, Guido has
set a policy that people who's commit privilege is fresh will still have
to use SF, but can perform the checkin themselves".  Tradition has stated
that "fresh" is your first two or three SF patches.  But please only step
forward if you are known to python-dev or PythonLabs since commit
priveleges won't be given to people who just wander in off the proverbial
street and ask for it.  Martin basically states this in a later email by
saying that "people should not produce a burst of patches just to get
commit privileges. Instead, they should contribute patches steadily (and
should have done so in the past), and then get CVS write access as a
simplification for the rest of the maintainers".

Neal Norwitz pointed out that if a bug ends up with a fix it is best to
submit a separate patch instead of attaching it to the bug report.  That
way there is a bigger chance of the patch being seen and dealth with.  But
please make sure to mention that it fixes a bug so that the bug can be
closed!  Martin even suggested mentioning this fact in the title of the
patch submission.

`RoundUp status`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029879.html

This is a splinter thread of the 'Becoming a python contributor' thread in
which Micheal Hudson asked how using Roundup_ for replacing SF_ was coming
along.  Guido said things had come up that was holding it up.  One was
that the test server running at http://www.python.org:8080 had died when
the box was restarted (which is now back up).  There were also some
changes to Roundup that needed to be dealt with in order to get everything
over from SF on to Roundup.  Guido also just ran out of time to review it
more, although he did like what he had reviewed so far.  Guido asked for a

It was asked what was needed.  Guido said that Roundup had moved over to
Zope-style templating so all the old templates that Gordon (I assuming
this is Gordon McMillan) wrote needed to be changed.  There were also some
bugs that needed to be dealt with that are being tracked at Roundup hosted
at http://www.python.org:8080 .  And there also will need to be
preparations for the day that development is moved over from SF to the
Roundup setup; that will require transferring everything over from SF,
shutting down SF, and handling any bugs that crop up from the heavy use
that the new setup is going to get.

So if you have any dislike for SF, then please contribute to Roundup and
help get Python off of there!

.. _Roundup: http://roundup.sourceforge.net/
.. _SF: http://www.sf.net/

`Contributing...current bug status`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029846.html

Neal Norwitz went through the SF_ bug tracker and counted 325 bugs and
generated a very easy to read page listing all the bugs with their
relevant info.  You can find the HTML version at
http://www.metaslash.com/py/sf.data.html .  If you find a bug there you
think you can help out on, then go to SF and do so!

`Low hanging fruit`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029850.html

Neal Norwitz generated a list of what he thought were easily fixable bugs
and put them in this thread (it's the first email so just go to the link
for this thread).  So if you have a little bit of free time and want to
help out why don't you try to tackle one of these bugs?

`Snake farm`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029853.html

The only reason I am mentioning this thread here is to help get the word
out about the `Snake Farm`_ ; hosted by Lysator_ and sponsored by the
`Python Business Forum`_ .  It is a compile farm that downloads from cvs,
compiles, and runs the test suite of Python daily.  It has caught a bunch
of bugs and has been a great help.

The majority of the thread was spent trying to get FreeBSD 4.4 -current to
compile Python and trying to work out a possible bug in pymalloc.

.. _Snake Farm: http://www.lysator.liu.se/~sfarmer/
.. _Lysator: http://www.lysator.liu.se/
.. _Python Business Forum: http://www.python-in-business.org

`David Goodger joins PEP editor`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029866.html

David Goodger has somehow gotten suckered into becoming a PEP editor (I
suspect Barry Warsaw had something to do with this since he used to do all
of the PEP editing).  So you can all welcome David to his new
responsibility by flooding him with all of those PEPs you have lying
around and were not sure were good enough to submit.  =)

`metaclass insanity`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029872.html


Michael Hudson posted the question as to how to get writing ``__bases__``
for new-style classes to do the "right thing" since the mro does not seem
to be updated.  Kevin Jacob gave it a go but ran into a bug.

Guido said that currently there is no way to touch the mro from Python
code.  All of that info is stored in the tp_mro slot in the object's C
representation and is stored as a tuple whose members are expected to be
either types or classic classes.  Guido said he would accept a patch for
assigning to the mro if a check was included to make sure the previously
mentioned constraint was maintained.  He also said he would probably
accept a patch that allowed for assignable ``__bases__`` and writing
``__name__`` .

Michael Hudson commented about the difficulty of all of these patches.
One thing that came up was the connection between ``__bases__`` and
``__base__`` and how assignment to ``__base__`` should not be taken
lightly; Guido commented that "the old and new base must be layout
compatible, exactly like for assignment to __class__".

Guido later pointed out that ``__base__`` becomes the built-in type that
you derive from; whether it be object, list, dict, etc.  It was agreed
that ``__base__`` shouldn't be writable.

The point was made that nestable classes are not pickable since only thing
at the top level of a module can be pickled.  Guido said he considered
this a flaw although he couldn't think of why someone would want to embed
a class within a class or a function.  This spawned comments on how to
deal with this.  It seemed the best solution was to change ``__name__``
for the inner class to a fully dotted name (e.g. ``X.Y.__name__ = "X.Y"``)
and then make a simple change to either ``pickle`` or ``getattr()``.  It
was eventually agreed upon that setting ``__name__`` to the full dotted
name of the class was the best solution and it was filed as `bug #633930`_

As part of trying to give Guido good examples of why nested classes are
good (the best attempt was Walter Dorwald in an email at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029906.html that
elicited a "that's cool" comment from Guido), the idea of having
``__iter__`` contain a class definition that returned an instance of that
class came up.  That was shot down because of the performance hit of
dealing with the class definition on every call to ``__iter__``.  But the
idea of defining ``__iter__`` as a generator was pointed out by Just van
Rossum.  Doing that simplifies the code usually a good amount since the
generator handles all ``.next()`` calls and you just need to have the
generator stop when you want your iterator to stop.  Apparently this is
not a widely used idiom, so I am mentioning it hear since it is a great
idea that I can personally attest to as being a rather nice way to handle

.. _bug #633930: http://www.python.org/sf/633930

`[#527371] sre bug/patch`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029936.html

I am mentioning this thread not because the bug is that big of a deal, but
because of the PEP that was brought up when dealing with the bug; `PEP
291`_ .  This informational PEP, among other things, lists modules that
must be kept compatible with certain versions of Python; in this case sre
has to be kept compatible with Python 1.5.2.  Except for sre, they are all
packages that have made their way into the library.  You might want to
have a look at the list if you are hacking on any packages in the stdlib.

.. _PEP 291: http://www.python.org/peps/pep-0291.html

`Re: [snake-farm] test test_slice failed -- [9, 7, 5, 3, 1] == [0]`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029941.html

Once again this is not to meant to mention directly what as discussed in
the thread but a point made.  The bug that was discovered was an issue
with 64-bit machines and the 32-bit limitation of lists and slicing.  The
32-bit limit currently is hard-coded into the C code.  Obviously some
people would like to see this changed.

Neal Norwitz laid down a rough outline on how one could go about changing
this at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029953.html .
Guido then made a pronouncement later stating that he is willing to break
binary compatibility once for Python 2.3 or 2.4 to get this done.  He also
mentioned some other things to make sure to do.

As of this writing no one has stepped forward to take this on.

`Reindenting unicodedata.c`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/029997.html

While doing some work on `Modules/unicodedata.c`_ , Martin v. Loewis
noticed that the indentation style didn't follow `PEP 7`_ and he wondered
if it would be okay to re-indent the file.  This brought up two points.

One was that PEP 7 was not stringently followed.  The PEP says to "Use
single-tab indents, where a tab is worth 8 spaces".  Now that goes against
Python coding style where you are supposed to use 4-space indents.  So the
question of whether one should still use the tab style in new C code came
up.  Guido said he wished new C code would, but for files he doesn't touch
very often he doesn't feel he can enforce it.  Barry and Martin came up
with a style of notation at the top of any file that uses a non-PEP style
which can be found at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030067.html .
But following the PEP is still the "officially" supported style.  But you
should try to follow PEP 7 for all new C code and PEP 8 for Python code.

The other point was when to re-indent.  It was agreed upon to only do that
when a major change in the code was occuring.  And when you do re-indent,
do it as a separate check-in for CVS.

.. _Modules/unicodedata.c:
.. _PEP 7: http://www.python.org/peps/pep-0007.html

`Printing and __unicode__`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030098.html

Martin v. Loewis brought up a point made by Henry Thompson on c.l.py
asking why printing ignores ``__unicode__``.  Martin thought it shouldn't
and listed a bunch of options on how to make printing work with
``__unicode__``.  The winner was to have "A file indicates
"unicode-awareness" somehow. For a Unicode-aware file, it tries
``__unicode__``, ``__str__``, and ``__repr__``, in order".  The agreed
solution was to add an ``.encoding`` attribute.  This attribute can be set
to None when the stream is in Unicode and never converts to a byte-stream.

But then M.A. Lemburg chimed in.  He was fine with the addition of the
``.encoding``; "this attribute is already available on stream objects
created with codecs.open()".  What he didn't like was having ``.encoding``
set to None mean the stream would accept Unicode.  Martin asked then if
``StringIO`` should have ``.encoding``.

MAL replied that "``StringIO`` should be considered a non-Unicode aware
stream, so it should not implement .encoding".  He thought that if someone
wanted ``StringIO`` to be Unicode-aware they could use "the tools in
codecs.py [since they] can be used for this (basically by doing the same
kind of wrapping as ``codecs.open()`` does)".  But then Martin pointed out
that StringIO is already Unicode-aware.

This debate continued between MAL, Martin, and Guido.  But then Guido just
said he gave up since the current behavior was relied upon too much.

`Adopting Optik`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030108.html

Splinter threads:
	- `Re: [getopt-sig] Adopting Optik
	- `Re: Adopting Optik
	- `Fw: [Python-Dev] Adopting Optik
	- `[getopt-sig] Re: [Python-Dev] Adopting Optik

Guido sent an email saying that he would like to get Python 2.3a out the
door by X-mas.  This means trying to come up with a new name for Optik_ ,
Greg Ward's command-line options parser.  The complaint about the current
name is that it's too cute.  Guido started it by suggesting the name

Peter Funk brought up two things.  One was that Docutils already used the
module under its Optik name.  To this Guido responded that they could just
change the name in the code.  Peter also said that Greg liked
``OptionsParser``.  There was also the point that module names are
preferred to be short and lowercase.

Ka-Ping Yee and myself brought up the point that ``options`` is very
generic.  Guido agreed with this point while also mentioning that many
people already have their own modules name options.py.  He then suggested
``optlib`` since "It's short, un-cute, and follows the \*lib pattern used
all over the Python stdlib".  Greg Ward liked this suggestion.

I personally suggested ``ArgParser``, trying to get a tie-in for sys.argv.
Greg Ewing built off of this and suggested ``argvparse``, similar to
``urlparse``.  David Ascher preferred ``argparse`` since "The v is archaic
and so silent it fades away =)".  David Abrahams disagreed, stating how
the "v" deals with any ambiguity.  David Abrahams also said he would vote
for ``argvparse`` to break a tie.

Ka-Ping Yee suggested ``cmdline`` and ``cmdopts``.  David Abrahams liked

Steve Holden built off of Guido's ``optlib`` and pushed for ``optionlib``.

But then Guido asked for a call to votes between ``optlib`` and
``argvparse``.  I tallied the votes at one point with it kind of split
between them.  Then Guido announced that ``optparse`` won (and no, that is
not a typo).

.. _Optik: http://optik.sf.net/

`Killing off bdist_dumb`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030139.html

Splinter threads:
	- `RE: [Distutils] Killing off bdist_dumb
	- `E: [Distutils] Killing off bdist_dumb

A.M. Kuchling asked if anyone would mind if bdist_dumb was removed from
distutils (the conversation also happened with `distutils-sig`_ ).
Apparently it is rather broken in terms of the paths of the files because
it makes them all relative.  M.A. Lemburg, though, spoke up stating that
he uses bdist_dumb.  It still wasn't fully resolved as of this writing.

The point of being able to build bdist_wininst on non-Windows platforms
came up during this discussion as well.  It was decided to move the binary
files needed for bdist_wininst into CVS (now filed as `bug #638595`_ ).

.. _distutils-sig: http://www.python.org/sigs/distutils-sig/
.. _bug #638595: http://www.python.org/sf/638595

`Python interface to attribute descriptors`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030118.html

Splinter threads:
	- `Python interface to attribute descriptors

Paul Dubois decided to cause himself some grief and attempt to comprehend
the miracle that is descriptors (more info can be found in the `2.2.2
What's New`_ doc and in `PEP 252`_).  He was wondering if their was more
documentation than the signatures of the functions for the C API.  He also
wanted to know if there was a way to play with them in the Python world
since all of his attempts fell short of them being "first-class citizen
from Python".

Guido admitted that the docs were lacking.  He then asked for some help in
writing the docs.  He responded to Paul's second question by saying that
he thought it should work as long as you avoided classic classes.

Thanks to Guido saying that is should work, Paul realized that he misread
the PEP.  To be nice he emailed out an example of how a descriptor could
know where it came from at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030141.html .
Phillip Ebey also chimed in on how to write a metaclass that said the name
of the descriptor at
http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030213.html .

.. _2.2.2 What's New:
.. _PEP 252: http://www.python.org/peps/pep-0252.html

`IDLE local scope cleanup`__
__ http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2002-November/030124.html

Patrick O'Brien (author of PyCrust_ ) wondered how IDLE managed to keep
its local scope so clean once it finished launching.  Guido said that IDLE
(or at least the GRPC version) runs the shell in a subprocess that is
careful not to pollute the namespace.

Patrick thanked Guido and then presented his real question: how to handle
not polluting the namespace with a way getting around a pickling issue.
He "used to just pass a regular dictionary to code.InteractiveInterpreter,
which worked well enough", but there was an issue with pickling.  So then
he tried passing ``sys.modules['__main__'].__dict__``, which worked but
cluttered the namespace.

Guido's response: "Remove the clutter".  Guido said that this would most
likely require a minimalistic main program that bootstrapped using
``__import__('run').main()`` which would run the code without adding to
the namespace.

.. _PyCrust: http://www.orbtech.com/wiki/PyCrust