[Python-Dev] File system path PEP, 3rd draft

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Mon May 16 17:02:42 EDT 2016

For those following along on the list, it's PEP 519:

I've read it once more and found nothing worth bickering about, so I am
hereby approving PEP 519. Thanks Brett and Koos for getting this one over
the finish line, and congrats! It's been quite an effort (I personally did
not have the patience to keep up with the thread...).

On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 1:26 PM, Brett Cannon <brett at python.org> wrote:

> On Mon, 16 May 2016 at 13:12 Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:
>> Once you assign yourself a PEP number I'll do one more pass and then I
>> expect to accept it -- the draft looks good to me!
> Done: https://hg.python.org/peps/rev/b41cb718054a
>> On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 1:00 PM, Brett Cannon <brett at python.org> wrote:
>>> Recent discussions have been about type hints which are orthogonal to
>>> the PEP, so things have seemed to have reached a steady state.
>>> Was there anything else that needed clarification, Guido, or are you
>>> ready to pronounce? Or did you want to wait until the language summit? Or
>>> did you want to assign a BDFL delegate?
>>> On Fri, 13 May 2016 at 11:37 Brett Cannon <brett at python.org> wrote:
>>>> Biggest changes since the second draft:
>>>>    1. Resolve __fspath__() from the type, not the instance (for Guido)
>>>>    2. Updated the TypeError messages to say "os.PathLike object"
>>>>    instead of "path object" (implicitly for Steven)
>>>>    3. TODO item to define "path-like" in the glossary (for Steven)
>>>>    4. Various more things added to Rejected Ideas
>>>>    5. Added Koos as a co-author (for Koos :)
>>>> ----------
>>>> PEP: NNN
>>>> Title: Adding a file system path protocol
>>>> Version: $Revision$
>>>> Last-Modified: $Date$
>>>> Author: Brett Cannon <brett at python.org>,
>>>>         Koos Zevenhoven <k7hoven at gmail.com>
>>>> Status: Draft
>>>> Type: Standards Track
>>>> Content-Type: text/x-rst
>>>> Created: 11-May-2016
>>>> Post-History: 11-May-2016,
>>>>               12-May-2016,
>>>>               13-May-2016
>>>> Abstract
>>>> ========
>>>> This PEP proposes a protocol for classes which represent a file system
>>>> path to be able to provide a ``str`` or ``bytes`` representation.
>>>> Changes to Python's standard library are also proposed to utilize this
>>>> protocol where appropriate to facilitate the use of path objects where
>>>> historically only ``str`` and/or ``bytes`` file system paths are
>>>> accepted. The goal is to facilitate the migration of users towards
>>>> rich path objects while providing an easy way to work with code
>>>> expecting ``str`` or ``bytes``.
>>>> Rationale
>>>> =========
>>>> Historically in Python, file system paths have been represented as
>>>> strings or bytes. This choice of representation has stemmed from C's
>>>> own decision to represent file system paths as
>>>> ``const char *`` [#libc-open]_. While that is a totally serviceable
>>>> format to use for file system paths, it's not necessarily optimal. At
>>>> issue is the fact that while all file system paths can be represented
>>>> as strings or bytes, not all strings or bytes represent a file system
>>>> path. This can lead to issues where any e.g. string duck-types to a
>>>> file system path whether it actually represents a path or not.
>>>> To help elevate the representation of file system paths from their
>>>> representation as strings and bytes to a richer object representation,
>>>> the pathlib module [#pathlib]_ was provisionally introduced in
>>>> Python 3.4 through PEP 428. While considered by some as an improvement
>>>> over strings and bytes for file system paths, it has suffered from a
>>>> lack of adoption. Typically the key issue listed for the low adoption
>>>> rate has been the lack of support in the standard library. This lack
>>>> of support required users of pathlib to manually convert path objects
>>>> to strings by calling ``str(path)`` which many found error-prone.
>>>> One issue in converting path objects to strings comes from
>>>> the fact that the only generic way to get a string representation of
>>>> the path was to pass the object to ``str()``. This can pose a
>>>> problem when done blindly as nearly all Python objects have some
>>>> string representation whether they are a path or not, e.g.
>>>> ``str(None)`` will give a result that
>>>> ``builtins.open()`` [#builtins-open]_ will happily use to create a new
>>>> file.
>>>> Exacerbating this whole situation is the
>>>> ``DirEntry`` object [#os-direntry]_. While path objects have a
>>>> representation that can be extracted using ``str()``, ``DirEntry``
>>>> objects expose a ``path`` attribute instead. Having no common
>>>> interface between path objects, ``DirEntry``, and any other
>>>> third-party path library has become an issue. A solution that allows
>>>> any path-representing object to declare that it is a path and a way
>>>> to extract a low-level representation that all path objects could
>>>> support is desired.
>>>> This PEP then proposes to introduce a new protocol to be followed by
>>>> objects which represent file system paths. Providing a protocol allows
>>>> for explicit signaling of what objects represent file system paths as
>>>> well as a way to extract a lower-level representation that can be used
>>>> with older APIs which only support strings or bytes.
>>>> Discussions regarding path objects that led to this PEP can be found
>>>> in multiple threads on the python-ideas mailing list archive
>>>> [#python-ideas-archive]_ for the months of March and April 2016 and on
>>>> the python-dev mailing list archives [#python-dev-archive]_ during
>>>> April 2016.
>>>> Proposal
>>>> ========
>>>> This proposal is split into two parts. One part is the proposal of a
>>>> protocol for objects to declare and provide support for exposing a
>>>> file system path representation. The other part deals with changes to
>>>> Python's standard library to support the new protocol. These changes
>>>> will also lead to the pathlib module dropping its provisional status.
>>>> Protocol
>>>> --------
>>>> The following abstract base class defines the protocol for an object
>>>> to be considered a path object::
>>>>     import abc
>>>>     import typing as t
>>>>     class PathLike(abc.ABC):
>>>>         """Abstract base class for implementing the file system path
>>>> protocol."""
>>>>         @abc.abstractmethod
>>>>         def __fspath__(self) -> t.Union[str, bytes]:
>>>>             """Return the file system path representation of the
>>>> object."""
>>>>             raise NotImplementedError
>>>> Objects representing file system paths will implement the
>>>> ``__fspath__()`` method which will return the ``str`` or ``bytes``
>>>> representation of the path. The ``str`` representation is the
>>>> preferred low-level path representation as it is human-readable and
>>>> what people historically represent paths as.
>>>> Standard library changes
>>>> ------------------------
>>>> It is expected that most APIs in Python's standard library that
>>>> currently accept a file system path will be updated appropriately to
>>>> accept path objects (whether that requires code or simply an update
>>>> to documentation will vary). The modules mentioned below, though,
>>>> deserve specific details as they have either fundamental changes that
>>>> empower the ability to use path objects, or entail additions/removal
>>>> of APIs.
>>>> builtins
>>>> ''''''''
>>>> ``open()`` [#builtins-open]_ will be updated to accept path objects as
>>>> well as continue to accept ``str`` and ``bytes``.
>>>> os
>>>> '''
>>>> The ``fspath()`` function will be added with the following semantics::
>>>>     import typing as t
>>>>     def fspath(path: t.Union[PathLike, str, bytes]) -> t.Union[str,
>>>> bytes]:
>>>>         """Return the string representation of the path.
>>>>         If str or bytes is passed in, it is returned unchanged.
>>>>         """
>>>>         if isinstance(path, (str, bytes)):
>>>>             return path
>>>>         # Work from the object's type to match method resolution of
>>>> other magic
>>>>         # methods.
>>>>         path_type = type(path)
>>>>         try:
>>>>             return path_type.__fspath__(path)
>>>>         except AttributeError:
>>>>             if hasattr(path_type, '__fspath__'):
>>>>                 raise
>>>>             raise TypeError("expected str, bytes or os.PathLike object,
>>>> not "
>>>>                             + path_type.__name__)
>>>> The ``os.fsencode()`` [#os-fsencode]_ and
>>>> ``os.fsdecode()`` [#os-fsdecode]_ functions will be updated to accept
>>>> path objects. As both functions coerce their arguments to
>>>> ``bytes`` and ``str``, respectively, they will be updated to call
>>>> ``__fspath__()`` if present to convert the path object to a ``str`` or
>>>> ``bytes`` representation, and then perform their appropriate
>>>> coercion operations as if the return value from ``__fspath__()`` had
>>>> been the original argument to the coercion function in question.
>>>> The addition of ``os.fspath()``, the updates to
>>>> ``os.fsencode()``/``os.fsdecode()``, and the current semantics of
>>>> ``pathlib.PurePath`` provide the semantics necessary to
>>>> get the path representation one prefers. For a path object,
>>>> ``pathlib.PurePath``/``Path`` can be used. To obtain the ``str`` or
>>>> ``bytes`` representation without any coersion, then ``os.fspath()``
>>>> can be used. If a ``str`` is desired and the encoding of ``bytes``
>>>> should be assumed to be the default file system encoding, then
>>>> ``os.fsdecode()`` should be used. If a ``bytes`` representation is
>>>> desired and any strings should be encoded using the default file
>>>> system encoding, then ``os.fsencode()`` is used. This PEP recommends
>>>> using path objects when possible and falling back to string paths as
>>>> necessary and using ``bytes`` as a last resort.
>>>> Another way to view this is as a hierarchy of file system path
>>>> representations (highest- to lowest-level): path → str → bytes. The
>>>> functions and classes under discussion can all accept objects on the
>>>> same level of the hierarchy, but they vary in whether they promote or
>>>> demote objects to another level. The ``pathlib.PurePath`` class can
>>>> promote a ``str`` to a path object. The ``os.fspath()`` function can
>>>> demote a path object to a ``str`` or ``bytes`` instance, depending
>>>> on what ``__fspath__()`` returns.
>>>> The ``os.fsdecode()`` function will demote a path object to
>>>> a string or promote a ``bytes`` object to a ``str``. The
>>>> ``os.fsencode()`` function will demote a path or string object to
>>>> ``bytes``. There is no function that provides a way to demote a path
>>>> object directly to ``bytes`` while bypassing string demotion.
>>>> The ``DirEntry`` object [#os-direntry]_ will gain an ``__fspath__()``
>>>> method. It will return the same value as currently found on the
>>>> ``path`` attribute of ``DirEntry`` instances.
>>>> The Protocol_ ABC will be added to the ``os`` module under the name
>>>> ``os.PathLike``.
>>>> os.path
>>>> '''''''
>>>> The various path-manipulation functions of ``os.path`` [#os-path]_
>>>> will be updated to accept path objects. For polymorphic functions that
>>>> accept both bytes and strings, they will be updated to simply use
>>>> ``os.fspath()``.
>>>> During the discussions leading up to this PEP it was suggested that
>>>> ``os.path`` not be updated using an "explicit is better than implicit"
>>>> argument. The thinking was that since ``__fspath__()`` is polymorphic
>>>> itself it may be better to have code working with ``os.path`` extract
>>>> the path representation from path objects explicitly. There is also
>>>> the consideration that adding support this deep into the low-level OS
>>>> APIs will lead to code magically supporting path objects without
>>>> requiring any documentation updated, leading to potential complaints
>>>> when it doesn't work, unbeknownst to the project author.
>>>> But it is the view of this PEP that "practicality beats purity" in
>>>> this instance. To help facilitate the transition to supporting path
>>>> objects, it is better to make the transition as easy as possible than
>>>> to worry about unexpected/undocumented duck typing support for
>>>> path objects by projects.
>>>> There has also been the suggestion that ``os.path`` functions could be
>>>> used in a tight loop and the overhead of checking or calling
>>>> ``__fspath__()`` would be too costly. In this scenario only
>>>> path-consuming APIs would be directly updated and path-manipulating
>>>> APIs like the ones in ``os.path`` would go unmodified. This would
>>>> require library authors to update their code to support path objects
>>>> if they performed any path manipulations, but if the library code
>>>> passed the path straight through then the library wouldn't need to be
>>>> updated. It is the view of this PEP and Guido, though, that this is an
>>>> unnecessary worry and that performance will still be acceptable.
>>>> pathlib
>>>> '''''''
>>>> The constructor for ``pathlib.PurePath`` and ``pathlib.Path`` will be
>>>> updated to accept ``PathLike`` objects. Both ``PurePath`` and ``Path``
>>>> will continue to not accept ``bytes`` path representations, and so if
>>>> ``__fspath__()`` returns ``bytes`` it will raise an exception.
>>>> The ``path`` attribute will be removed as this PEP makes it
>>>> redundant (it has not been included in any released version of Python
>>>> and so is not a backwards-compatibility concern).
>>>> C API
>>>> '''''
>>>> The C API will gain an equivalent function to ``os.fspath()``::
>>>>     /*
>>>>         Return the file system path of the object.
>>>>         If the object is str or bytes, then allow it to pass through
>>>> with
>>>>         an incremented refcount. If the object defines __fspath__(),
>>>> then
>>>>         return the result of that method. All other types raise a
>>>> TypeError.
>>>>     */
>>>>     PyObject *
>>>>     PyOS_FSPath(PyObject *path)
>>>>     {
>>>>         if (PyUnicode_Check(path) || PyBytes_Check(path)) {
>>>>             Py_INCREF(path);
>>>>             return path;
>>>>         }
>>>>         if (PyObject_HasAttrString(path->ob_type, "__fspath__")) {
>>>>             return PyObject_CallMethodObjArgs(path->ob_type,
>>>> "__fspath__", path,
>>>>                                             NULL);
>>>>         }
>>>>         return PyErr_Format(PyExc_TypeError,
>>>>                             "expected a str, bytes, or os.PathLike
>>>> object, not %S",
>>>>                             path->ob_type);
>>>>     }
>>>> Backwards compatibility
>>>> =======================
>>>> There are no explicit backwards-compatibility concerns. Unless an
>>>> object incidentally already defines a ``__fspath__()`` method there is
>>>> no reason to expect the pre-existing code to break or expect to have
>>>> its semantics implicitly changed.
>>>> Libraries wishing to support path objects and a version of Python
>>>> prior to Python 3.6 and the existence of ``os.fspath()`` can use the
>>>> idiom of
>>>> ``path.__fspath__() if hasattr(path, "__fspath__") else path``.
>>>> Implementation
>>>> ==============
>>>> This is the task list for what this PEP proposes:
>>>> #. Remove the ``path`` attribute from pathlib
>>>> #. Remove the provisional status of pathlib
>>>> #. Add ``os.PathLike``
>>>> #. Add ``os.fspath()``
>>>> #. Add ``PyOS_FSPath()``
>>>> #. Update ``os.fsencode()``
>>>> #. Update ``os.fsdecode()``
>>>> #. Update ``pathlib.PurePath`` and ``pathlib.Path``
>>>> #. Update ``builtins.open()``
>>>> #. Update ``os.DirEntry``
>>>> #. Update ``os.path``
>>>> #. Add a glossary entry for "path-like"
>>>> Rejected Ideas
>>>> ==============
>>>> Other names for the protocol's method
>>>> -------------------------------------
>>>> Various names were proposed during discussions leading to this PEP,
>>>> including ``__path__``, ``__pathname__``, and ``__fspathname__``. In
>>>> the end people seemed to gravitate towards ``__fspath__`` for being
>>>> unambiguous without being unnecessarily long.
>>>> Separate str/bytes methods
>>>> --------------------------
>>>> At one point it was suggested that ``__fspath__()`` only return
>>>> strings and another method named ``__fspathb__()`` be introduced to
>>>> return bytes. The thinking is that by making ``__fspath__()`` not be
>>>> polymorphic it could make dealing with the potential string or bytes
>>>> representations easier. But the general consensus was that returning
>>>> bytes will more than likely be rare and that the various functions in
>>>> the os module are the better abstraction to promote over direct
>>>> calls to ``__fspath__()``.
>>>> Providing a ``path`` attribute
>>>> ------------------------------
>>>> To help deal with the issue of ``pathlib.PurePath`` not inheriting
>>>> from ``str``, originally it was proposed to introduce a ``path``
>>>> attribute to mirror what ``os.DirEntry`` provides. In the end,
>>>> though, it was determined that a protocol would provide the same
>>>> result while not directly exposing an API that most people will never
>>>> need to interact with directly.
>>>> Have ``__fspath__()`` only return strings
>>>> ------------------------------------------
>>>> Much of the discussion that led to this PEP revolved around whether
>>>> ``__fspath__()`` should be polymorphic and return ``bytes`` as well as
>>>> ``str`` or only return ``str``. The general sentiment for this view
>>>> was that ``bytes`` are difficult to work with due to their
>>>> inherent lack of information about their encoding and PEP 383 makes
>>>> it possible to represent all file system paths using ``str`` with the
>>>> ``surrogateescape`` handler. Thus, it would be better to forcibly
>>>> promote the use of ``str`` as the low-level path representation for
>>>> high-level path objects.
>>>> In the end, it was decided that using ``bytes`` to represent paths is
>>>> simply not going to go away and thus they should be supported to some
>>>> degree. The hope is that people will gravitate towards path objects
>>>> like pathlib and that will move people away from operating directly
>>>> with ``bytes``.
>>>> A generic string encoding mechanism
>>>> -----------------------------------
>>>> At one point there was a discussion of developing a generic mechanism
>>>> to extract a string representation of an object that had semantic
>>>> meaning (``__str__()`` does not necessarily return anything of
>>>> semantic significance beyond what may be helpful for debugging). In
>>>> the end, it was deemed to lack a motivating need beyond the one this
>>>> PEP is trying to solve in a specific fashion.
>>>> Have __fspath__ be an attribute
>>>> -------------------------------
>>>> It was briefly considered to have ``__fspath__`` be an attribute
>>>> instead of a method. This was rejected for two reasons. One,
>>>> historically protocols have been implemented as "magic methods" and
>>>> not "magic methods and attributes". Two, there is no guarantee that
>>>> the lower-level representation of a path object will be pre-computed,
>>>> potentially misleading users that there was no expensive computation
>>>> behind the scenes in case the attribute was implemented as a property.
>>>> This also indirectly ties into the idea of introducing a ``path``
>>>> attribute to accomplish the same thing. This idea has an added issue,
>>>> though, of accidentally having any object with a ``path`` attribute
>>>> meet the protocol's duck typing. Introducing a new magic method for
>>>> the protocol helpfully avoids any accidental opting into the protocol.
>>>> Provide specific type hinting support
>>>> -------------------------------------
>>>> There was some consideration to provdinga generic ``typing.PathLike``
>>>> class which would allow for e.g. ``typing.PathLike[str]`` to specify
>>>> a type hint for a path object which returned a string representation.
>>>> While potentially beneficial, the usefulness was deemed too small to
>>>> bother adding the type hint class.
>>>> This also removed any desire to have a class in the ``typing`` module
>>>> which represented the union of all acceptable path-representing types
>>>> as that can be represented with
>>>> ``typing.Union[str, bytes, os.PathLike]`` easily enough and the hope
>>>> is users will slowly gravitate to path objects only.
>>>> Provide ``os.fspathb()``
>>>> ------------------------
>>>> It was suggested that to mirror the structure of e.g.
>>>> ``os.getcwd()``/``os.getcwdb()``, that ``os.fspath()`` only return
>>>> ``str`` and that another function named ``os.fspathb()`` be
>>>> introduced that only returned ``bytes``. This was rejected as the
>>>> purposes of the ``*b()`` functions are tied to querying the file
>>>> system where there is a need to get the raw bytes back. As this PEP
>>>> does not work directly with data on a file system (but which *may*
>>>> be), the view was taken this distinction is unnecessary. It's also
>>>> believed that the need for only bytes will not be common enough to
>>>> need to support in such a specific manner as ``os.fsencode()`` will
>>>> provide similar functionality.
>>>> Call ``__fspath__()`` off of the instance
>>>> -----------------------------------------
>>>> An earlier draft of this PEP had ``os.fspath()`` calling
>>>> ``path.__fspath__()`` instead of ``type(path).__fspath__(path)``. The
>>>> changed to be consistent with how other magic methods in Python are
>>>> resolved.
>>>> Acknowledgements
>>>> ================
>>>> Thanks to everyone who participated in the various discussions related
>>>> to this PEP that spanned both python-ideas and python-dev. Special
>>>> thanks to Stephen Turnbull for direct feedback on early drafts of this
>>>> PEP. More special thanks to Koos Zevenhoven and Ethan Furman for not
>>>> only feedback on early drafts of this PEP but also helping to drive
>>>> the overall discussion on this topic across the two mailing lists.
>>>> References
>>>> ==========
>>>> .. [#python-ideas-archive] The python-ideas mailing list archive
>>>>    (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/)
>>>> .. [#python-dev-archive] The python-dev mailing list archive
>>>>    (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/)
>>>> .. [#libc-open] ``open()`` documention for the C standard library
>>>>    (
>>>> http://www.gnu.org/software/libc/manual/html_node/Opening-and-Closing-Files.html
>>>> )
>>>> .. [#pathlib] The ``pathlib`` module
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/pathlib.html#module-pathlib)
>>>> .. [#builtins-open] The ``builtins.open()`` function
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/functions.html#open)
>>>> .. [#os-fsencode] The ``os.fsencode()`` function
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/os.html#os.fsencode)
>>>> .. [#os-fsdecode] The ``os.fsdecode()`` function
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/os.html#os.fsdecode)
>>>> .. [#os-direntry] The ``os.DirEntry`` class
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/os.html#os.DirEntry)
>>>> .. [#os-path] The ``os.path`` module
>>>>    (https://docs.python.org/3/library/os.path.html#module-os.path)
>>>> Copyright
>>>> =========
>>>> This document has been placed in the public domain.
>>>> ..
>>>>    Local Variables:
>>>>    mode: indented-text
>>>>    indent-tabs-mode: nil
>>>>    sentence-end-double-space: t
>>>>    fill-column: 70
>>>>    coding: utf-8
>>>>    End:
>> --
>> --Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)

--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/attachments/20160516/4882e394/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the Python-Dev mailing list