[Python-ideas] Making the stdlib consistent again

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Mon Jul 25 15:58:28 EDT 2016


You seem to be vastly underestimating the cost of making backwards
incompatible changes like these, while sounding naively optimistic
about the value of consistency. Please understand the second section
heading of PEP 8.


On Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 10:55 AM, Ralph Broenink
<ralph at ralphbroenink.net> wrote:
> 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.
>   * 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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--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)

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