[Python-ideas] PEP 561: Distributing and Packaging Type Information
ethan at ethanhs.me
Sun Sep 10 19:05:21 EDT 2017
I have just published my first PEP, on packaging type information. I would
appreciate comments and suggestions. The PEP can be found at
I have also duplicated the text below.
Title: Distributing and Packaging Type Information
Author: Ethan Smith <ethan at ethanhs.me>
Type: Standards Track
PEP 484 introduced type hints to Python, with goals of making typing
gradual and easy to adopt. Currently, typing information must be distributed
manually. This PEP provides a standardized means to package and distribute
type information and an ordering for type checkers to resolve modules and
collect this information for type checking using existing packaging
PEP 484 has a brief section on distributing typing information. In this
section _ the PEP recommends using ``shared/typehints/pythonX.Y/`` for
shipping stub files. However, manually adding a path to stub files for each
third party library does not scale. The simplest approach people have taken
is to add ``site-packages`` to their ``PYTHONPATH``, but this causes type
checkers to fail on packages that are highly dynamic (e.g. sqlalchemy
Furthermore, package authors are wishing to distribute code that has
inline type information, and there currently is no standard method to
distribute packages with inline type annotations or syntax that can
simultaneously be used at runtime and in type checking.
There are several motivations and methods of supporting typing in a
package. This PEP
recognizes three (3) types of packages that may be created:
1. The package maintainer would like to add type information inline.
2. The package maintainer would like to add type information via stubs.
3. A third party would like to share stub files for a package, but the
maintainer does not want to include them in the source of the package.
This PEP aims to support these scenarios and make them simple to add to
packaging and deployment.
The two major parts of this specification are the packaging specifications
and the resolution order for resolving module type information. This spec
is meant to replace the ``shared/typehints/pythonX.Y/`` spec of PEP 484 _.
Packaging Type Information
Packages must opt into supporting typing. This will be done though a distutils
extension _, providing a ``typed`` keyword argument to the distutils
``setup()`` command. The argument value will depend on the kind of type
information the package provides. The distutils extension will be added to the
``typing`` package. Therefore a package maintainer may write
Inline Typed Packages
Packages that have inline type annotations simply have to pass the value
``"inline"`` to the ``typed`` argument in ``setup()``.
Stub Only Packages
For package maintainers wishing to ship stub files containing all of their
type information, it is prefered that the ``*.pyi`` stubs are alongside the
corresponding ``*.py`` files. However, the stubs may be put in a sub-folder
of the Python sources, with the same name the ``*.py`` files are in. For
example, the ``flyingcircus`` package would have its stubs in the folder
``flyingcircus/flyingcircus/``. This path is chosen so that if stubs are
not found in ``flyingcircus/`` the type checker may treat the subdirectory as
a normal package. The normal resolution order of checking ``*.pyi`` before
``*.py`` will be maintained. The value of the ``typed`` argument to
``setup()`` is ``"stubs"`` for this type of distribution. The author of the
package is suggested to use ``package_data`` to assure the stub files are
installed alongside the runtime Python code.
Third Party Stub Packages
Third parties seeking to distribute stub files are encouraged to contact the
maintainer of the package about distribution alongside the package. If the
maintainer does not wish to maintain or package stub files or type information
inline, then a "third party stub package" should be created. The structure is
similar, but slightly different from that of stub only packages. If the stubs
are for the library ``flyingcircus`` then the package should be named
``flyingcircus-stubs`` and the stub files should be put in a sub-directory
named ``flyingcircus``. This allows the stubs to be checked as if they were in
a regular package. These packages should also pass ``"stubs"`` as the value
of ``typed`` argument in ``setup()``. These packages are suggested to use
``package_data`` to package stub files.
The version of the ``flyingcircus-stubs`` package should match the version of
the ``flyingcircus`` package it is providing types for.
Type Checker Module Resolution Order
The following is the order that type checkers supporting this PEP should
resolve modules containing type information:
1. User code - the files the type checker is running on.
2. Stubs or Python source in ``PYTHONPATH``. This is to allow the user
complete control of which stubs to use, and patch broken stubs/inline
types from packages.
3. Third party stub packages - these packages can supersede the installed
untyped packages. They can be found at ``pkg-stubs`` for package ``pkg``,
however it is encouraged to check their metadata to confirm that they opt
into type checking.
4. Inline packages - finally, if there is nothing overriding the installed
package, and it opts into type checking.
5. Typeshed (if used) - Provides the stdlib types and several third
When resolving step (3) type checkers should assure the version of the stubs
match the installed runtime package.
Type checkers that check a different Python version than the version they run
on must find the type information in the ``site-packages``/``dist-packages``
of that Python version. This can be queried e.g.
``pythonX.Y -c 'import sys; print(sys.exec_prefix)'``. It is also recommended
that the type checker allow for the user to point to a particular Python
binary, in case it is not in the path.
To check if a package has opted into type checking, type checkers are
recommended to use the ``pkg_resources`` module to query the package
metadata. If the ``typed`` package metadata has ``None`` as its value, the
package has not opted into type checking, and the type checker should skip that
..  PEP 484, Storing and Distributing Stub Files
..  Distutils Extensions, Adding setup() arguments
This document has been placed in the public domain.
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