[Python-ideas] Moving development out of the standard library

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Mon Jun 7 18:35:16 CEST 2010

OK... after a bit of off-list discussion I realize what I am really
concerned about with respect to the standard library wasn't well expressed.
So here's my real assertion:

  There is no reason any new library or functionality should be tied to a
Python release.

Outside of a few exceptions (like ast or importlib) functionality in the
standard library seldom relies on anything in a particular Python release;
e.g., code might use conditional expressions, but it never *has* to use
conditional expressions.  The standard library that most people know and
love is really the least common denominator of Python's that person has to
handle; for someone writing an open source library that's probably 2.5, for
someone using Zope 2 that's traditionally been 2.4, and if you have a
controlled environment (e.g., internal development) maybe you can do 2.6.

I think there is a general consensus that functionality should not be tied
to a Python release, but the results are ad hoc.  That is, truly useful
libraries that are added to the stdlib are backported, or more often were
originally maintained as a library with backward compatibility before being
integrated into the standard library.  I think we should have a more
formalized process about how this functionality is maintained, including a
process that considers the years of ongoing maintenance and improvement that
should happen on these libraries.  (Most specifically without serious
thought about this development process I am pessimistic about an orderly or
positive inclusion of distutils2 in packaging workflows.)

Another alternative is to simply not make improvements to the standard
library beyond a very well-defined set of appropriate functionality.  This
would be much closer to the status quo.  Defining what categories would be
"appropriate" would be contentious, I am sure, but would sharply focus
future discussions.

Ian Bicking  |  http://blog.ianbicking.org
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