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

Scott Dial scott+python-ideas at scottdial.com
Sat Oct 24 08:03:34 CEST 2009

Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> In software, it may make sense to have the stable periods be *much*
> more stable, since artificial systems are more fragile than natural
> C, because it occupies an "ecological niche" as a high-level
> assembly language, has been quite static since its original
> definition, even when it evolves.

I was going to stay out of this discussion, but I find it highly
annoying to see all these references to C being "static". One need only
glance at the length of GCC's changes for the major version numbers to
see that it is not static by any stretch of the imagination.
Furthermore, the abundance of code revision (even in Python itself!) to
compile without warning or error in various version of C compilers over
the years makes the label "quite static" as laughable.

I believe what you really mean, and what everyone really means, is that
there is a core language that is unchanged over long periods of time.
Changes that caused previously compiling C programs to no longer compile
correctly would be considered a blatant failure of the compiler. That is
not to say there are "no new features," rather only features that are
backwards compatible. As is repeatedly pointed out, people who really do
high-quality, professional development for Python do not develop for the
latest release of Python, they standardize on a minimum version number
and use only the features in that language; this is no different than
writing ISO C90 code rather than ISO C99.

I fail to see how this is not *already* the model that Python and Python
developers are already using. At it's heart, I think the point of what
Guido proposed is for everyone to stop fscking with the language and
just start using it (specifically the 3.x version of it). But, I think
Guido's frustration with the lack of traction of 3.x is misplaced; it's
less than a year ago that it was released, and many ignored 3.0 due to
the io module.

Nevertheless, it is Guido's language and he can do whatever he wants.

Scott Dial
scott at scottdial.com
scodial at cs.indiana.edu

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