[Python-ideas] Proposal: Moratorium on Python language changes

Bruce Frederiksen dangyogi at gmail.com
Fri Oct 23 16:49:37 CEST 2009

On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 3:46 AM, Yuvgoog Greenle <ubershmekel at gmail.com>wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 5:50 AM, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org>
> wrote:
> > You keep stressing the opportunities for new features, but I want to
> > crush that hope
> > [ snip ]
> > Go invent a new language (and hope for it
> > to become popular :-) if you want to experiment.
> Crushing hope and pointing people to the door is ugly [*].
> Why freeze? Instead, define how change occurs and make it as slow as
> you like.

OK, I'm an outsider here.  But looking at this whole discussion a picture
emerges.  So I'll toss this out here for discussion (and I'm really going
out on a limb here, but it's OK to shoot the outsider!)

"I propose a moratorium on language changes. This would be a period of
several years during which no changes to Python's grammar or language
semantics will be accepted. The reason is that frequent changes to the
language cause pain for implementors of alternate implementations..."

What I see happening is a realization as we move into 2010 that the C
language is no longer the future.  We may not know yet what language is the
future.  And we might imagine that it ought to be Python.  This discussion
is being done within the CPython group.  That has two parts: C and Python.
I see the moratorium as a declaration that Python needs a new
implementation.  It needs a new horse to ride on.

What the moratorium is saying is that the Python language will no longer
evolve on the CPython implementation.  The moratorium will never be lifted
for CPython.  When a new implementation comes along, that new implementation
will necessitate it's own language changes and have it's own future.  The
moratorium will be lifted when this new implementation (whatever that ends
up being) is chosen.  And then the Python language will be riding a new
horse, with a new reference implementation.

The real questions (if this is even in the right ballpark), are along the
lines of:

   1. How will this new implementation be chosen?  What qualities are we
   looking for?  Are we opening up a contest?  Are there deadlines?
   2. Will there only be one winner, or might there be multiple winners
   (perhaps one for each platform)?
   3. How will the group of developers now working on CPython transition to
   this new implementation?  This is especially ticklish when we realize that
   it will be some other group that initially develops the new implementation
   to the point of being accepted.  Does the current CPython group simply ride
   off into the sunset at that point?  Is Guido really the BDFL (Benevolent
   Dictator For the Language), or only the BDFC (Benevolent Dictator For
   CPython)?  (I, for one, would very much like to see the current group
   continue to hold the reins on the language.  They have an outstanding track
   record in language design!)
   4. What are the legal issues?  Are there restrictions on which license
   the new implementation can use?  How is it adopted by the PSF?  What limits
   does that place on the other group that developed this thing?  What do they
   have to agree to?

There, I said it.  Lock n Load!
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