[Python-Dev] Request for Pronouncement: PEP 441 - Improving Python ZIP Application Support
Guido van Rossum
guido at python.org
Thu Feb 26 22:34:00 CET 2015
Thanks for your patience, Paul, and thanks everyone for their feedback.
I know there are still a few small edits to the PEP, but those don't affect
my acceptance. Congrats!
On Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:05 AM, Paul Moore <p.f.moore at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 24 February 2015 at 18:24, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:
> > Here's my review. I really like where this is going but I have a few
> > questions and suggestions (I can't help myself :-).
> OK, I've updated both the PEP and the patch based on follow-up
> discussions. I think (again!) it is ready to go.
> I've included the updated PEP inline below, it'll be available at
> peps.python.org as soon as someone has a chance to upload it.
> Thanks to everyone for the various comments. If I've missed anything
> that someone thinks I'd said I would change, please let me know.
> PEP: 441
> Title: Improving Python ZIP Application Support
> Version: $Revision$
> Last-Modified: $Date$
> Author: Daniel Holth <dholth at gmail.com>,
> Paul Moore <p.f.moore at gmail.com>
> Status: Draft
> Type: Standards Track
> Content-Type: text/x-rst
> Created: 30 March 2013
> Post-History: 30 March 2013, 1 April 2013, 16 February 2015
> Improving Python ZIP Application Support
> Python has had the ability to execute directories or ZIP-format
> archives as scripts since version 2.6 _. When invoked with a zip
> file or directory as its first argument the interpreter adds that
> directory to sys.path and executes the ``__main__`` module. These
> archives provide a great way to publish software that needs to be
> distributed as a single file script but is complex enough to need to
> be written as a collection of modules.
> This feature is not as popular as it should be mainly because it was
> not promoted as part of Python 2.6 _, so that it is relatively
> unknown, but also because the Windows installer does not register a
> file extension (other than ``.py``) for this format of file, to associate
> with the launcher.
> This PEP proposes to fix these problems by re-publicising the feature,
> defining the ``.pyz`` and ``.pyzw`` extensions as "Python ZIP Applications"
> and "Windowed Python ZIP Applications", and providing some simple
> tooling to manage the format.
> A New Python ZIP Application Extension
> The terminology "Python Zip Application" will be the formal term used
> for a zip-format archive that contains Python code in a form that can
> be directly executed by Python (specifically, it must have a
> ``__main__.py`` file in the root directory of the archive). The
> extension ``.pyz`` will be formally associated with such files.
> The Python 3.5 installer will associate ``.pyz`` and ``.pyzw`` "Python
> Zip Applications" with the platform launcher so they can be executed.
> A ``.pyz`` archive is a console application and a ``.pyzw`` archive is a
> windowed application, indicating whether the console should appear
> when running the app.
> On Unix, it would be ideal if the ``.pyz`` extension and the name
> "Python Zip Application" were registered (in the mime types database?).
> However, such an association is out of scope for this PEP.
> Python Zip applications can be prefixed with a ``#!`` line
> pointing to the correct Python interpreter and an optional
> #!/usr/bin/env python3
> # Python application packed with zipapp module
> (binary contents of archive)
> On Unix, this allows the OS to run the file with the correct
> interpreter, via the standard "shebang" support. On Windows, the
> Python launcher implements shebang support.
> However, it is always possible to execute a ``.pyz`` application by
> supplying the filename to the Python interpreter directly.
> As background, ZIP archives are defined with a footer containing
> relative offsets from the end of the file. They remain valid when
> concatenated to the end of any other file. This feature is completely
> standard and is how self-extracting ZIP archives and the bdist_wininst
> installer format work.
> Minimal Tooling: The zipapp Module
> This PEP also proposes including a module for working with these
> archives. The module will contain functions for working with Python
> zip application archives, and a command line interface (via ``python
> -m zipapp``) for their creation and manipulation.
> More complete tools for managing Python Zip Applications are
> encouraged as 3rd party applications on PyPI. Currently, pyzzer _
> and pex _ are two such tools.
> Module Interface
> The zipapp module will provide the following functions:
> ``create_archive(source, target=None, interpreter=None, main=None)``
> Create an application archive from *source*. The source can be any
> of the following:
> * The name of a directory, in which case a new application archive
> will be created from the content of that directory.
> * The name of an existing application archive file, in which case the
> file is copied to the target. The file name should include the
> ``.pyz`` extension, if required.
> * A file object open for reading in bytes mode. The content of the
> file should be an application archive, and the file object is
> assumed to be positioned at the start of the archive.
> The *target* argument determines where the resulting archive will be
> * If it is the name of a file, the archive will be written to that
> * If it is an open file object, the archive will be written to that
> file object, which must be open for writing in bytes mode.
> * If the target is omitted (or None), the source must be a directory
> and the target will be a file with the same name as the source, with
> a ``.pyz`` extension added.
> The *interpreter* argument specifies the name of the Python
> interpreter with which the archive will be executed. It is written as
> a "shebang" line at the start of the archive. On Unix, this will be
> interpreted by the OS, and on Windows it will be handled by the Python
> launcher. Omitting the *interpreter* results in no shebang line being
> written. If an interpreter is specified, and the target is a
> filename, the executable bit of the target file will be set.
> The *main* argument specifies the name of a callable which will be
> used as the main program for the archive. It can only be specified if
> the source is a directory, and the source does not already contain a
> ``__main__.py`` file. The *main* argument should take the form
> "pkg.module:callable" and the archive will be run by importing
> "pkg.module" and executing the given callable with no arguments. It
> is an error to omit *main* if the source is a directory and does not
> contain a ``__main__.py`` file, as otherwise the resulting archive
> would not be executable.
> If a file object is specified for *source* or *target*, it is the
> caller's responsibility to close it after calling create_archive.
> When copying an existing archive, file objects supplied only need
> ``read`` and ``readline``, or ``write`` methods. When creating an
> archive from a directory, if the target is a file object it will be
> passed to the ``zipfile.ZipFile`` class, and must supply the methods
> needed by that class.
> Returns the interpreter specified in the shebang line of the
> *archive*. If there is no shebang, the function returns ``None``.
> The *archive* argument can be a filename or a file-like object open
> for reading in bytes mode.
> Command Line Usage
> The zipapp module can be run with the python ``-m`` flag. The command
> line interface is as follows::
> python -m zipapp directory [options]
> Create an archive from the given directory. An archive will
> be created from the contents of that directory. The archive
> will have the same name as the source directory with a .pyz
> The following options can be specified:
> -o archive / --output archive
> The destination archive will have the specified name. The
> given name will be used as written, so should include the
> ".pyz" extension.
> -p interpreter / --python interpreter
> The given interpreter will be written to the shebang line
> of the archive. If this option is not given, the archive
> will have no shebang line.
> -m pkg.mod:fn / --main pkg.mod:fn
> The source directory must not have a __main__.py file. The
> archiver will write a __main__.py file into the target
> which calls fn from the module pkg.mod.
> The behaviour of the command line interface matches that of
> In addition, it is possible to use the command line interface to work
> with an existing archive::
> python -m zipapp app.pyz --show
> Displays the shebang line of an archive. Output is of the
> Interpreter: /usr/bin/env
> Interpreter: <none>
> and is intended for diagnostic use, not for scripts.
> python -m zipapp app.pyz -o newapp.pyz [-p interpreter]
> Copy app.pyz to newapp.pyz, modifying the shebang line based
> on the -p option (as for creating an archive, no -p option
> means remove the shebang line). Specifying a destination is
> In-place modification of an archive is *not* supported, as the
> risk of damaging archives is too great for a simple tool.
> As noted, the archives are standard zip files, and so can be unpacked
> using any standard ZIP utility or Python's zipfile module. For this
> reason, no interfaces to list the contents of an archive, or unpack
> them, are provided or needed.
> Are you sure a standard ZIP utility can handle ``#!`` at the beginning?
> Absolutely. The zipfile specification allows for arbitrary data to
> be prepended to a zipfile. This feature is commonly used by
> "self-extracting zip" programs. If your archive program can't
> handle this, it is a bug in your archive program.
> Isn't zipapp just a very thin wrapper over the zipfile module?
> Yes. If you prefer to build your own Python zip application
> archives using other tools, they will work just as well. The
> zipapp module is a convenience, nothing more.
> Why not use just use a ``.zip`` or ``.py`` extension?
> Users expect a ``.zip`` file to be opened with an archive tool, and
> expect a ``.py`` file to contain readable text. Both would be
> confusing for this use case.
> How does this compete with existing package formats?
> The sdist, bdist and wheel formats are designed for packaging of
> modules to be installed into an existing Python installation.
> They are not intended to be used without installing. The
> executable zip format is specifically designed for standalone use,
> without needing to be installed. They are in effect a multi-file
> version of a standalone Python script.
> Rejected Proposals
> Convenience Values for Shebang Lines
> Is it worth having "convenience" forms for any of the common
> interpreter values? For example, ``-p 3`` meaning the same as ``-p
> "/usr/bin/env python3"``. It would save a lot of typing for the
> common cases, as well as giving cross-platform options for people who
> don't want or need to understand the intricacies of shebang handling
> on "other" platforms.
> Downsides are that it's not obvious how to translate the
> abbreviations. For example, should "3" mean "/usr/bin/env python3",
> "/usr/bin/python3", "python3", or something else? Also, there is no
> obvious short form for the key case of "/usr/bin/env python" (any
> available version of Python), which could easily result in scripts
> being written with overly-restrictive shebang lines.
> Overall, this seems like there are more problems than benefits, and as
> a result has been dropped from consideration.
> Registering ``.pyz`` as a Media Type
> It was suggested _ that the ``.pyz`` extension should be registered
> in the Unix database of extensions. While it makes sense to do this
> as an equivalent of the Windows installer registering the extension,
> the ``.py`` extension is not listed in the media types database _.
> It doesn't seem reasonable to register ``.pyz`` without ``.py``, so
> this idea has been omitted from this PEP. An interested party could
> arrange for *both* ``.py`` and ``.pyz`` to be registered at a future
> Default Interpreter
> The initial draft of this PEP proposed using ``/usr/bin/env python``
> as the default interpreter. Unix users have problems with this
> behaviour, as the default for the python command on many distributions
> is Python 2, and it is felt that this PEP should prefer Python 3 by
> default. However, using a command of ``python3`` can result in
> unexpected behaviour for Windows users, where the default behaviour of
> the launcher for the command ``python`` is commonly customised by users,
> but the behaviour of ``python3`` may not be modified to match.
> As a result, the principle "in the face of ambiguity, refuse to guess"
> has been invoked, and archives have no shebang line unless explicitly
> requested. On Windows, the archives will still be run (with the
> default Python) by the launcher, and on Unix, the archives can be run
> by explicitly invoking the desired Python interpreter.
> Command Line Tool to Manage Shebang Lines
> It is conceivable that users would want to modify the shebang line for
> an existing archive, or even just display the current shebang line.
> This is tricky to do so with existing tools (zip programs typically
> ignore prepended data totally, and text editors can have trouble
> editing files containing binary data).
> The zipapp module provides functions to handle the shebang line, but
> does not include a command line interface to that functionality. This
> is because it is not clear how to provide one without the resulting
> interface being over-complex and potentially confusing. Changing the
> shebang line is expected to be an uncommon requirement.
> Reference Implementation
> A reference implementation is at http://bugs.python.org/issue23491.
> ..  Allow interpreter to execute a zip file
> ..  Feature is not documented
> ..  Discussion of adding a .pyz mime type on python-dev
> ..  Register of media types
> ..  pyzzer - A tool for creating Python-executable archives
> ..  pex - The PEX packaging toolchain
> The discussion of this PEP took place on the python-dev mailing list,
> in the thread starting at
> This document has been placed into the public domain.
> Local Variables:
> mode: indented-text
> indent-tabs-mode: nil
> sentence-end-double-space: t
> fill-column: 70
> coding: utf-8
--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
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