[Pythonmac-SIG] a beginner's list

Kevin Ollivier kevino at theolliviers.com
Wed Feb 8 10:06:49 CET 2006

Hi Chris,

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  
>> already
>> 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  
> would
> 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  
> the
> 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  
scripting guru.

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  
> will
> no longer work, as Apple is likely to yank their python out from under
> you.

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  
my apps?



> If it were running with a user-installed Python, chances are it
> would keep working.
> -Chris
> -- 
> Christopher Barker, Ph.D.
> Oceanographer
> NOAA/OR&R/HAZMAT         (206) 526-6959   voice
> 7600 Sand Point Way NE   (206) 526-6329   fax
> Seattle, WA  98115       (206) 526-6317   main reception
> _______________________________________________
> Pythonmac-SIG maillist  -  Pythonmac-SIG at python.org
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/pythonmac-sig

More information about the Pythonmac-SIG mailing list