[Pythonmac-SIG] a beginner's list
kevino at theolliviers.com
Wed Feb 8 10:06:49 CET 2006
On Feb 7, 2006, at 11:07 PM, Christopher Barker wrote:
> Chris Porter wrote:
>> And here, Mac comes with Python! Very nice.
>> That shouldn't be downplayed. All I needed was the Python that was
>> installed, plus a couple added things. (I needed Python to talk to
>> MySQL, and
>> that I had to install MySQL, so there was likely no native ability
>> to do so on
>> the Mac I've got.)
> This is my point. You couldn't actually get anything done without
> downloading and installing _something_. Once you're doing that, it
> have made very little difference if you had downloaded and installed a
> new version of Python as well.
It's important to note, though, that you're looking at a use case of
someone who's already familiar with databases, MySQL, etc. and knows
exactly what they want to use Python to do. But there are lots of
other use cases, most particularly people simply evaluating the basic
capabilities of the language or just getting started programming,
where people wouldn't need to install extension modules (at least,
not right away) and who probably would do fine with the Apple-
installed Python. I doubt most people who start with the existing
Python 2.3 will stick with it, unless of course it happens to work
and do everything they need it to do. (I was fine with 2.3 for over a
year after 2.4 was released, believe it or not!) But it will take
them far enough that they will realize that this 'Python' is a good
thing and determine they'd like to upgrade to 2.4.
> However, what would have made a difference is whether or not a package
> for the MySQL lib were easily available or not. That's why whatever
> MacPython community endorses and documents should be a version with as
> broad package support as possible. I think that's 2.4.*, rather
> than the
> Apple supplied python.
If broad package support was going to happen on Mac, I really think
it would have happened by now. The packaging effort that has happened
has been led by a couple of volunteers, and a few random extension
developers, and I don't see why standardizing on Python 2.4 will
change that, because anyone who wants to create a package even today
can just package against whatever Python they have and post it on
their web site or somewhere else. Whoever can use it, can use it.
Users can ask for other packages if they want them.
I think you have to think about why exactly people aren't packaging,
and to give you some 'data' on the issue, I'll tell you why I don't
package: I don't have time to support or maintain the packages. As
much as I love the Python community, I can't afford to be a point of
support when something breaks, or when someone needs an upgrade, etc.
and I don't believe in just dumping things in somebody's lap and
saying "good luck!" I can't speak for anyone else, but I think it's a
logical way of thinking. Plus, the size of the Mac userbase in
consideration of other platforms is mostly unknown. We all have to
choose where to devote our time.
The only solutions to this that I see are either to get a bunch of
money and devoting it to packaging efforts, which isn't likely to
happen, or do a quick writeup for beginners about what setup.py
commands can be used to install most Python packages. Get them
started. Sometimes all this stuff seems so hard just because the user
lacks one critical piece of information or one step in a process that
we all think is simple and obvious. I must have thought to myself
"wow, you can do that?!" about five times when reading Robin's
wxPython build process docs. He was "just* trying to help users learn
how to build wxPython, but his docs were so clear and so detailed
that he helped me learn more about how building software on *nix
works. As someone coming from a Win, and now Mac, background, I
thought those docs were more helpful than most of the "real" *nix
docs out there because Robin didn't assume I was already a *nix
In short, you might be surprised at how many potential Mac Python
users would really be helped simply by reading Bill Jannsen's step-by-
step tutorial. I strongly feel we should put that up for beginners'
in some sort of "30-second Python quick start", as was suggested
earlier. Instant gratification has been found, in some instances ;-),
to have a positive impact on peoples' first impression of your
product or service. ;-)
> In addition, if you have your code running just fine and dandy under
> Apple's python, then you upgrade to 10.5, chances are that your app
> no longer work, as Apple is likely to yank their python out from under
What do you mean by this? None of my Panther scripts stopped working
under Tiger (I do have a couple ;-), and I didn't even touch Python
2.4 on Mac until around October, where they still worked as they
always did on 2.3. Why should I now assume 10.5 is going to break all
> If it were running with a user-installed Python, chances are it
> would keep working.
> Christopher Barker, Ph.D.
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