[Python-Dev] PEP 3003 - Python Language Moratorium

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Tue Nov 3 18:35:10 CET 2009

I've checked draft (!) PEP 3003, "Python Language Moratorium", into
SVN. As authors I've listed Jesse, Brett and myself.

On python-ideas the moratorium idea got fairly positive responses
(more positive than I'd expected, in fact) but I'm bracing myself for
fierce discussion here on python-dev. It's important to me that if if
this is accepted it is a "rough consensus" decision (working code we
already have plenty of :-), not something enforced by a vocal minority
or an influential individual such as myself. If there's too much
opposition I'll withdraw the PEP so as not to waste everybody's time
with a fruitless discussion.

The PEP tries to spell out some gray areas but I'm sure there will be
others; that's life. Do note that the PEP proposes to be *retroactive*
back to the 3.1 release, i.e. the "frozen" version of the language is
the state in which it was released as 3.1.

--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
-------------- next part --------------
PEP: 3003
Title: Python Language Moratorium
Version: $Revision$
Last-Modified: $Date$
Author: Brett Cannon, Jesse Noller, Guido van Rossum
Status: Draft
Type: Process
Content-Type: text/x-rst
Created: 21-Oct-2009


This PEP proposes a temporary moratorium (suspension) of all changes
to the Python language syntax, semantics, and built-ins for a period
of at least two years from the release of Python 3.1.

This suspension of features is designed to allow non-CPython implementations
to "catch up" to the core implementation of the language, help ease adoption
of Python 3.x, and provide a more stable base for the community.


This idea was proposed by Guido van Rossum on the python-ideas [1]_ mailing
list. The premise of his email was to slow the alteration of the  Python core
syntax, builtins and semantics to allow non-CPython implementations to catch
up to the current state of Python, both 2.x and 3.x.

Python, as a language is more than the core implementation --
CPython -- with a rich, mature and vibrant community of implementations, such
as Jython [2]_, IronPython [3]_ and PyPy [4]_ that are a benefit not only to
the community, but to the language itself.

Still others, such as Unladen Swallow [5]_ (a branch of CPython) seek not to
create an alternative implementation, but rather they seek to enhance the
performance and implementation of CPython itself.

Python 3.x was a large part of the last several years of Python's
development. Its release, as well as a bevy of changes to the language
introduce by it and the previous 2.6.x releases, puts alternative
implementations at a severe disadvantage in "keeping pace" with core python

Additionally, many of the changes put into the recent releases of the language
as implemented by CPython have not yet seen widespread usage amongst the
general user population. For example, most users are beholden to the version
of the interpreter (typically CPython) which comes pre-installed with their
operating system. Most OS vendors are just barely beginning to ship Python 2.6
-- even fewer are shipping Python 3.x.

As it is expected that Python 2.7 be the effective "end of life" of the Python
2.x code line, with Python 3.x being the future, it is in the best interest of
Python core development to temporarily suspend the alteration of the language
itself to allow all of these external entities to catch up and to assist in
the adoption of, and migration to, Python 3.x

Finally, the moratorium is intended to free up cycles within core development
to focus on other issues, such as the CPython interpreter and improvements
therein, the standard library, etc.

This moratorium does not allow for exceptions -- once accepted, any pending
changes to the syntax or semantics of the language will be postponed until the
moratorium is lifted.

This moratorium does not attempt to apply to any other Python implementation
meaning that if desired other implementations may add features which deviate
from the standard implementation.


Cannot Change

* New built-ins
* Language syntax
    The grammar file essentially becomes immutable apart from ambiguity
* General language semantics
    The language operates as-is with only specific exemptions (see

Case-by-Case Exemptions

* New methods on built-ins
    The case for adding a method to a built-in object can be made.
* Incorrect language semantics 
    If the language semantics turn out to be ambiguous or improperly
    implemented based on the intention of the original design then the
    semantics may change.
* Language semantics that are difficult to implement
    Because other VMs have not begun implementing Python 3.x semantics
    there is a possibility that certain semantics are too difficult to
    replicate. In those cases they can be changed to ease adoption of
    Python 3.x by the other VMs.

Allowed to Change

    It is entirely acceptable to change the underlying C code of
    CPython as long as other restrictions of this moratorium are not
    broken. E.g. removing the GIL would be fine assuming certain
    operations that are currently atomic remain atomic.
* The standard library
    As the standard library is not directly tied to the language
    definition it is not covered by this moratorium.
* Backports of 3.x features to to 2.x
    The moratorium only affects features that would be new in 3.x.


It is important to note that the moratorium covers all changes since the
release of Python 3.1. This rule is intended to avoid features being rushed or
smuggled into the CPython source tree while the moratorium is being discussed.


This document has been placed in the public domain.


.. [1] http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2009-October/006305.html
.. [2] http://www.jython.org/
.. [3] http://www.codeplex.com/IronPython
.. [4] http://codespeak.net/pypy/
.. [5] http://code.google.com/p/unladen-swallow/ 

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