[Python-Dev] PEP 382: Namespace Packages

M.-A. Lemburg mal at egenix.com
Wed Apr 15 18:15:46 CEST 2009

On 2009-04-15 16:44, P.J. Eby wrote:
> At 09:51 AM 4/15/2009 +0200, M.-A. Lemburg wrote:
>> On 2009-04-15 02:32, P.J. Eby wrote:
>> > At 10:59 PM 4/14/2009 +0200, M.-A. Lemburg wrote:
>> >> You are missing the point: When breaking up a large package that
>> lives in
>> >> site-packages into smaller distribution bundles, you don't need
>> namespace
>> >> packages at all, so the PEP doesn't apply.
>> >>
>> >> The way this works is by having a base distribution bundle that
>> includes
>> >> the needed __init__.py file and a set of extension bundles the add
>> >> other files to the same directory (without including another copy of
>> >> __init__.py). The extension bundles include a dependency on the base
>> >> package to make sure that it always gets installed first.
>> >
>> > If we're going to keep that practice, there's no point to having the
>> > PEP: all three methods (base+extensions, pkgutil, setuptools) all work
>> > just fine as they are, with no changes to importing or the stdlib.
>> Again: the PEP is about creating a standard for namespace
>> packages. It's not about making namespace packages easy to use for
>> Linux distribution maintainers. Instead, it's targeting *developers*
>> that want to enable shipping a single package in multiple, separate
>> pieces, giving the user the freedom to the select the ones she needs.
>> Of course, this is possible today using various other techniques. The
>> point is that there is no standard for namespace packages and that's
>> what the PEP is trying to solve.
>> > In particular, without the feature of being able to drop that practice,
>> > there would be no reason for setuptools to adopt the PEP.  That's why
>> > I'm -1 on your proposal: it's actually inferior to the methods we
>> > already have today.
>> It's simpler and more in line with the Python Zen, not inferior.
>> You are free not to support it in setuptools - the methods
>> implemented in setuptools will continue to work as they are,
>> but continue to require support code and, over time, no longer
>> be compatible with other tools building upon the standard
>> defined in the PEP.
>> In the end, it's the user that decides: whether to go with a
>> standard or not.
> Up until this point, I've been trying to help you understand the use
> cases, but it's clear now that you already understand them, you just
> don't care.
> That wouldn't be a problem if you just stayed on the sidelines, instead
> of actively working to make those use cases more difficult for everyone
> else than they already are.
> Anyway, since you clearly understand precisely what you're doing, I'm
> now going to stop trying to explain things, as my responses are
> apparently just encouraging you, and possibly convincing bystanders that
> there's some genuine controversy here as well.

Hopefully, bystanders will understand that the one single use case
you are always emphasizing, namely that of Linux distribution maintainers
trying to change the package installation layout, is really a rather
uncommon and rare use case.

It is true that I do understand what the namespace package idea is
all about. I've been active in Python package development since they
were first added to Python as a new built-in import feature in Python 1.5
and have been distributing packages with package add-ons for more than
a decade...

For some history, have a look at:


Also note how that essay discourages the use of .pth files:

If the package really requires adding one or more directories on sys.path (e.g.
because it has not yet been structured to support dotted-name import), a "path
configuration file" named package.pth can be placed in either the site-python or
site-packages directory.
A typical installation should have no or very few .pth files or something is
wrong, and if you need to play with the search order, something is very wrong.

Back to the PEP:

The much more common use case is that of wanting to have a base package
installation which optional add-ons that live in the same logical
package namespace.

The PEP provides a way to solve this use case by giving both developers
and users a standard at hand which they can follow without having to
rely on some non-standard helpers and across Python implementations.

My proposal tries to solve this without adding yet another .pth
file like mechanism - hopefully in the spirit of the original Python
package idea.

Marc-Andre Lemburg

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