[Python-ideas] Making the stdlib consistent again

Jelle Zijlstra jelle.zijlstra at gmail.com
Mon Jul 25 15:29:53 EDT 2016

2016-07-25 10:55 GMT-07:00 Ralph Broenink <ralph at ralphbroenink.net>:

> Hi python-ideas,
> As you all know, the Python stdlib can sometimes be a bit of an
> inconsistent mess that can be surprising in how it names things. This is
> mostly caused by the fact that several modules were developed before the
> introduction of PEP-8, and now we're stuck with the older naming within
> these modules.
> It has been said and discussed in the past [1][2] that the stdlib is in
> fact inconsistent, but fixing this has almost always been disregarded as
> being too painful (after all, we don't want a new Python 3 all over again).
> However, this way, we will never move away from these inconsistencies.
> Perhaps this is fine, but I think we should at least consider providing
> function and class names that are unsurprising for developers.
> While maintaining full backwards compatibility, my idea is that we should
> offer consistently named aliases in -eventually- all stdlib modules. For
> instance, with Python 2.6, the threading module received this treatment,
> but unfortunately this was not expanded to all modules.
> What am I speaking of precisely? I have done a quick survey of the stdlib
> and found the following examples. Please note, this is a highly opinionated
> list; some names may have been chosen with a very good reason, and others
> are just a matter of taste. Hopefully you agree with at least some of them:
>   * The CamelCasing in some modules are the most obvious culprits, e.g.
> logging and unittest. There is obviously an issue regarding subclasses and
> methods that are supposed to be overridden, but I feel we could make it
> work.
>   * All lower case class names, such as collections.defaultdict and
> collections.deque, should be CamelCased. Another example is datetime, which
> uses names such as timedelta instead of TimeDelta.
> Does that also go for builtin classes, such as int and str and object and

>   * Inconsistent names all together, such as re.sub, which I feel should
> be re.replace (cf. str.replace). But also re.finditer and re.findall, but
> no re.find.
>   * Names that do not reflect actual usage, such as ssl.PROTOCOL_SSLv23,
> which can in fact not be used as client for SSLv2.
>   * Underscore usage, such as tarfile.TarFile.gettarinfo (should it not be
> get_tar_info?), http.client.HTTPConnection.getresponse vs set_debuglevel,
> and pathlib.Path.samefile vs pathlib.Path.read_text. And is it
> pkgutil.iter_modules or is it pathlib.Path.iterdir (or re.finditer)?
>   * Usage of various abbreviations, such as in filecmp.cmp
>   * Inconsistencies between similar modules, e.g. between
> tarfile.TarFile.add and zipfile.ZipFile.write.
> These are just some examples of inconsistent and surprising naming I could
> find, other categories are probably also conceivable. Another subject for
> reconsideration would be attribute and argument names, but I haven't looked
> for those in my quick survey.
> For all of these inconsistencies, I think we should make a 'consistently'
> named alternative, and alias the original variant with them (or the other
> way around), without defining a deprecation timeline for the original
> names. This should make it possible to eventually make the stdlib
> consistent, Pythonic and unsurprising.
> What would you think of such an effort?
> Regards,
> Ralph Broenink
>  [1]
> https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2010-January/006755.html
>  [2] https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2009-March/086646.html
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