Feedback wanted on programming introduction (Python in Windows)

Alf P. Steinbach alfps at
Thu Oct 29 19:46:45 CET 2009

* Ethan Furman:
> Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
>> * James Harris:
>>> You get way too deep into Python in places (for a beginner's course in
>>> programming). For example, "from now on I’ll always use from
>>> __future__ in any program that uses print."
>> Sorry, but I think that hiding such concerns is a real disservice.
> The disservice is in teaching folks to use non-standard elements, which 
> is (sort-of) what __future__ is.  Changes to the language are 
> experimented with in __future__ and can change from one release to the 
> next.  If memory serves, the with statement is an example of having 
> different behavior when it was moved out of __future__ and made a 
> standard part of the language.

That's a bit of a straw man argument. I used "from __future__" to write 
forward-compatible calls of print, so that those examples would not mysteriously 
work or not depending on the Python version. I did not use it to access 
experimental features.

However, I didn't know then that the language has changed so much in 3.x that it 
isn't practical to aim at general forward compatibility or version independence.

And I didn't know until your comment above that some features, apparently, only 
exist in __future__ but are not part of the language, subject to change.

Is there a current example?

And, just a suggestion, would it not be better to have a different name for such 
experimental (as opposed to future language version) features, e.g. "from 
__experimental__", differentiating between forward compatibility in e.g. 
production code, and trying out experimental subject-to-change features?


- Alf

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