[Python-Dev] Issues with PEP 3101 (string formatting)

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Tue Jun 19 17:20:25 CEST 2007

Those are valid concerns. I'm cross-posting this to the python-3000
list in the hope that the PEP's author and defendents can respond. I'm
sure we can work something out.

Please keep further discussion on the python-3000 at python.org list.


On 6/19/07, Chris McDonough <chrism at plope.com> wrote:
> Wrt http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-3101/
> PEP 3101 says Py3K should allow item and attribute access syntax
> within string templating expressions but "to limit potential security
> issues", access to underscore prefixed names within attribute/item
> access expressions will be disallowed.
> I am a person who has lived with the aftermath of a framework
> designed to prevent data access by restricting access to underscore-
> prefixed names (Zope 2, ahem), and I've found it's very hard to
> explain and justify.  As a result, I feel that this is a poor default
> policy choice for a framework.
> In some cases, underscore names must become part of an object's
> external interface.  Consider a URL with one or more underscore-
> prefixed path segment elements (because prefixing a filename with an
> underscore is a perfectly reasonable thing to do on a filesystem, and
> path elements are often named after file names) fed to a traversal
> algorithm that attempts to resolve each path element into an object
> by calling __getitem__ against the parent found by the last path
> element's traversal result.  Perhaps this is poor design and
> __getitem__ should not be consulted here, but I doubt that highly
> because there's nothing particularly special about calling a method
> named __getitem__ as opposed to some method named "traverse".
> The only precedent within Python 2 for this sort of behavior is
> limiting access to variables that begin with __ and which do not end
> with __ to the scope defined by a class and its instances.  I
> personally don't believe this is a very useful feature, but it's
> still only an advisory policy and you can worm around it with enough
> gyrations.
> Given that security is a concern at all, the only truly reasonable
> way to "limit security issues" is to disallow item and attribute
> access completely within the string templating expression syntax.  It
> seems gratuituous to me to encourage string templating expressions
> with item/attribute access, given that you could do it within the
> format arguments just as easily in the 99% case, and we've (well...
> I've) happily been living with that restriction for years now.
> But if this syntax is preserved, there really should be no *default*
> restrictions on the traversable names within an expression because
> this will almost certainly become a hard-to-explain, hard-to-justify
> bug magnet as it has become in Zope.
> - C
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--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

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