Question mark in variable and function names

Fernando Perez fperez528 at
Wed Oct 6 22:31:34 CEST 2004

Alex Martelli wrote:

> I love iPython, but the (hypothetical) moment iPython or any other tool
> starts holding back the development of the _language_ is the moment I
> turn into a deadly enemy of the tool in question, _whatever_ it may be.
> We have enough tails-wagging-dogs in the real world, we don't need more
> of that in the fairytale world of the Snake...!-)

I've certainly always held the opinion that ipython should in _all_ respects
adapt to whatever directions the language moves in.  In fact, I've in the past
rejected proposals for changing ipython in directions which would make it
incompatible with python's defaults, because I feel that ipython should always
be a python _tool_, hence subservient to the language.

So I'm NOT advocating 'holding back the development of the language' because of
ipython (or any other tool, for that matter), as I ultimately share your
position.  I simply think that Python is more than a syntactic specification,
it's also a set of tools, libraries and community, and I think much of what
makes python attractive is the combined power of all those things.  Just like
the needs of one community have in the past been taken into account when
developing the language (extended slicing originated for Numeric), I hope this
will remain true in the future.

I would NEVER try to hold back Python's development (I'm already considered a
python nut evangelist by many :). However, I would certainly voice my concerns
in the hope that a good compromise could be reached, which could satisfy the
language while harming other tools (like ipython in this case) as little as

And for the record, yes, the ?!-at-the-end-only would qualify as such a
minimal-impact compromise in my book :)  The ! would be a non-issue, and users
could type a space before the ?.  And on ?foo, I get to use my time machine
today :)

In [1]: x=1

In [2]: ?x
Type:           int
Base Class:     <type 'int'>
String Form:    1
Namespace:      Interactive
    int(x[, base]) -> integer


Note that I still don't _like_ the ?!-in-names, but that's a different matter,
since now we're just talking about personal taste :)



More information about the Python-list mailing list