python-dev summary for 2005-07-01 to 2005-07-15

Discussion in 'Python' started by Steven Bethard, Jul 31, 2005.

  1. [The HTML version of this Summary is available at
    http://www.python.org/dev/summary/2005-07-01_2005-07-15.html]

    =============
    Announcements
    =============

    ------------------------------
    QOTF (Quotes of the Fortnight)
    ------------------------------

    Marc-Andre Lemburg provides perhaps the best summary to date of `how
    strings and Unicode should be used`_ in Python:

    To untie this Gordian Knot, we should use strings and Unicode like
    they are supposed to be used (in the context of text data):

    * strings are fine for text data that is encoded using the default encoding
    * Unicode should be used for all text data that is not or cannot be
    encoded in the default encoding

    Later on in Py3k, all text data should be stored in Unicode and all
    binary data in some new binary type.

    On a more entertaining note, Anthony Baxter describes the general
    outlook outlook on handling `threads vs signals`_:

    threads vs signals is a platform-dependant trail of misery,
    despair, horror and madness

    ... _how strings and Unicode should be used:
    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054854.html

    ... _threads vs signals:
    http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054832.html


    =========
    Summaries
    =========

    ---------------------------------------
    PEP 343 Documentation: Context Managers
    ---------------------------------------

    Raymond Hettinger started a thread discussing how objects with
    __enter__ and __exit__ methods should be referred to in the official
    Python documentation. A few terms were thrown around, with "resource
    manager" being one of the early favorites. However, because the
    __enter__/__exit__ protocol handles a much more general construct that
    just the acquisition and release of a resource, this term steadily
    lost ground. Things like "locking objects are resource managed" and
    "decimal.Context() is a resource manager" sounded awkward and hard to
    explain.

    Phillip J. Eby suggested that objects with __enter__ and __exit__
    methods could be called "context managers", and people seemed
    generally happy with this term. Nick Coghlan took this term, and some
    example use cases for "context managers", and put together a `draft
    documentation`_ for the section in the Python Library Reference.
    People liked Nick's wording, and after a few minor revisions (mainly
    to add more examples), it looked pretty complete. Nick promised to
    add a bit to the Python tutorial after he got a chance to play with
    the PEP 342_/343_ implementations.

    There was also a brief followup thread that discussed which objects in
    the stdlib should gain __enter__ and __exit__ methods in Python 2.5.
    It looks like decimal.Context objects will almost certainly become
    context managers, and there is some chance that a
    sys.redirected_stdout context manager might appear.

    ... _draft documentation: http://www.python.org/sf/1234057
    ... _342: http://www.python.org/sf/1223381
    ... _343: http://python.org/sf/1235943

    Contributing threads:

    - `Terminology for PEP 343
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-June/054525.html>`__
    - `Terminology for PEP 343
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054530.html>`__
    - `'With' context documentation draft (was Re: Terminology for PEP 343
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054658.html>`__
    - `PEP 343 documentation on Sourceforge Patch tracker
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054688.html>`__
    - `Possible context managers in stdlib
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054762.html>`__

    [SJB]


    -----------------------
    GCC/G++ Issues on Linux
    -----------------------

    While in the past Python and Python extension modules could be
    compiled on Linux with different GCC versions as long as the 'C' ABIs
    were compatible, David Abrahams reported that Python extensions on
    Linux now crash if they are not compiled with exactly the same version
    of GCC as the Python they're loaded into. This is apparently due to
    the fact that on these systems Python is being linked with CXX when it
    should be linked with CC. The solution turned out to be to pass
    --without-cxx to configure; if it is not specified, configure runs a
    linking test that (improperly) determines that linking with CXX is
    necessary. When the --without-cxx flag is specified, configure does
    not perform this linking test, so Python is linked with CC.

    In the same discussion, Christoph Ludwig pointed out another problem
    in the above linking test. The current test compiles a single
    translation unit program using CXX and sees if linking it using CC
    fails. For GCC 3.x, it does, but because GCC 4.0 does a better job of
    eliminating unreachable code, with GCC 4.0 it does not. Thus make
    fails using GCC 4.0. Christoph showed that compiling a program with
    two tranlation units, one of which calls an 'extern "C"' function in
    the other, restores the original behavior. He provided the
    corresponding patch_ to configure.in.

    While Christoph's patch stops make from failing on Linux with ELF
    shared binaries and GCC 4.x, it did not address David Abrahams
    original concern -- that on Linux with ELF shared binaries and GCC 3.x
    or 4.x, configure should determine that Python can be compiled
    *without* CXX. Christoph promised to work on a more comprehensive
    patch to address this problem for Python 2.5.

    ... _patch: http://www.python.org/sf/1239112

    Contributing threads:

    - `GCC version compatibility
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054686.html>`__
    - `Linux Python linking with G++?
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054693.html>`__
    - `[C++-sig] GCC version compatibility
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054794.html>`__

    [SJB]


    --------------------------------------------------------
    Behavior of Sourceforge when replying to python-checkins
    --------------------------------------------------------

    At the moment, replying to a message in the check-ins list defaults to
    directing the reply to python-dev. After this lead to some confusion,
    Guido questioned whether this was a good idea or not; the two main
    problems are that it is more difficult than necessary to send notes to
    the committer, and difficult to follow such threads (the past is in
    the check-in message, and future messages might be on python-dev or
    the check-ins list). Only one person replied to Guido's suggestion
    (agreeing) - nothing appears to have changed so far, so it seems that
    perhaps the status quo rules.

    Contributing thread:

    - `floatobject.c 2.136
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054617.html>`__

    [TAM]


    ----------------------------------------
    Removing else clauses from while and for
    ----------------------------------------

    Thomas Lotze suggested that an 'eltry' keyword be introduced, to be
    the counterpart of 'elif' for try statements; this idea was quickly
    shot down by Guido (the use case is rare, using both "else" and "try"
    is fine, a loop solution often works well).

    As a result, however, Guido wondered whether else clauses on for/while
    were a good idea, even though he dislikes flag variables. He was
    joined by various people, some of whom did not know (or had forgotten)
    that the clauses even existed - some people wondered whether they made
    the language harder to learn. These people were outnumbered, though,
    but people who felt that these loop else clauses were an elegant part
    of the language and should definitely stay.

    Interestingly, Guido noted that he wonders whether "elif" was a
    mistake, and should have been "else if" (although there was no
    indication that he felt that this should be changed in Python 3000).

    Contributing thread:

    - `Chaining try statements: eltry?
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054667.html>`__

    [TAM]


    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Adding Syntactic Support for Instance Variable Assignment
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Ralf W. Grosse-Kunstleve asked for syntactic support for the common idiom::

    def __init__(self, x, y, z):
    self.x = x
    self.y = y
    self.z = z

    using the syntax::

    def __init__(self, .x, .y, .z):
    pass

    People pointed out that with a properly-defined initialize() function
    you could use existing Python syntax and only need a single function
    call in __init__::

    def __init__(self, x, y, z):
    initialize(self, locals())

    The thread_ was moved to comp.lang.python before it had a chance to
    turn into a decorator-syntax-like discussion. ;)

    ... _thread: http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-list/2005-July/288292.html

    Contributing thread:

    - `reducing self.x=x; self.y=y; self.z=z boilerplate code
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054568.html>`__

    [SJB]


    -------------------------------------
    Changing Triple-quoted String Parsing
    -------------------------------------

    Andrew Durdin suggested a change in the way that triple-quoted strings
    are parsed. Strings like::

    myverylongvariablename = """\
    This line is indented,
    But this line is not.
    Note the trailing newline:
    """

    would have the initial indents on all lines but the first ignored when
    they were parsed. People seemed generally to dislike the proposal, for
    a number of reasons:

    - "It smells too much of DWIM, which is very unpythonic" -- Guido
    - it is backwards incompatible in a number of ways
    - textwrap.dedent covers pretty much all of the use cases

    Andrew Durdin said he would write the PEP anyway so that at least if
    the idea was rejected, there would be some official documentation of
    the rejection.

    Contributing thread:

    - `Triple-quoted strings and indentation
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054649.html>`__

    [SJB]


    -----------------------
    path module and Unicode
    -----------------------

    Continuing last month's discussion on including the path module in the
    standard library, Neil Hodgson pointed out that path makes it easier
    to handle Unicode directory paths on Windows-based platforms;
    currently, this requires user code. Further replies pointed out
    similar Unicode handling problems in sys.argv and os.listdir, leading
    Guido to comment, "Face it. Unicode stinks (from the programmer's
    POV). But we'll have to live with it."

    Neil boiled this down to four high-level strategies for dealing with
    attributes that can Unicode: always returning Unicode, returning
    Unicode only when a value can't be represented in ASCII, returning
    Unicode only when a value can't be represented in the current code
    page, or creating "separate-but-equal" APIs (like sys.argvu and
    os.environu). Marc-Andre Lemburg and Guido both expressed strong
    preferences for the second option, with Marc-Andre formulating the
    rule as presented in this issue's QotF.

    Contributing threads:

    - `Adding the 'path' module (was Re: Some RFE for review)
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054535.html>`__
    - `Adding the 'path' module (was Re: Some RFE for review)
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054796.html>`__
    - `Adding the 'path' module (was Re: Some RFE for review)
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054857.html>`__

    [TDL]


    --------------------------------------
    Improving decimal module documentation
    --------------------------------------

    Facundo Bastista couldn't find the explanation of the decimal module's
    rounding modes. Nick Coghlan helped him find it in section for `Context
    objects`_ but noted that the wording for the round-half modes was
    sparse. Raymond Hettinger then improved the docs by adding a few words
    to the effect that the various round-half modes are rules for breaking
    ties when two integers are equally near. He also switched the
    presentation from paragraph-form to list-form so to make it easier to
    find and read.

    ... _Context objects: http://docs.python.org/lib/decimal-decimal.html

    Contributing threads:

    - `Decimal rounding doc
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054543.html>`__
    - `Missing docs (was Decimal rounding doc)
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054553.html>`__

    [TAM]


    ----------------
    getch() behavior
    ----------------

    Darryl Dixon pointed out that the getpass() function in the getpass
    module does not accept extended characters on Windows, where the
    msvcrt module is used to capture one character at a time from stdin
    via the _getch() function defined in conio.h. Windows supports
    `capturing extended characters`_ via _getch, but it requires making a
    second call to getch() if one of the 'magic' returns is encountered in
    the first call (0x00 or 0xE0). Darryl asked whether a patch for the
    msvcrt module that added support for capturing extended characters
    would be considered. However, no support was received (although it
    was suggested that a patch submitted through sourceforge, possibly
    implemented via a new function, would be considered), as the thinness
    of the msvcrt wrapper is intentional, and it was not clear that this
    was a problem (i.e., that two calls could not be made).

    ... _capturing extended characters:
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;57888

    Contributing threads:

    - `getch() in msvcrt does not accept extended characters.
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-June/054506.html>`__
    - `getch() in msvcrt does not accept extended characters.
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054539.html>`__

    [TAM]


    -------------------
    Threads and signals
    -------------------

    Florent Pillet noticed that when using Python 2.3 on Max OS X, calling
    tmpfile() from a C extension had the side-effect of disabling
    Control-C keyboard interruption (SIGINT). Further digging revealed
    that on both Darwin and FreeBSD platforms, tmpfile() does play with
    the signal handling, but appears to change it back. Michael Hudson
    noted that Florent's code also involved threads, and that mixing
    threads and signal handling involved "enormously subtle" issues.
    Anthony Baxter also replied that Python 2.4 should be less subject to
    harmful effects from these bugs, but as a rule, mixing threads and
    signals is a recipe for "misery, despair, horror, and madness."

    Contributing threads:

    - `C bindings calling tmpfile() blocks interrupt signal
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054690.html>`__

    [TDL]


    --------
    List API
    --------

    Nicolas Fleury proposed adding copy() and clear() functions to lists,
    to be more consistent with dict and set. It was pointed out that the
    copy module (copy.copy()) can be used for generic copying, or a copy
    constructor and that clearing can be done with slicing (seq[:] = [])
    or the del keyword (del seq[:]). The advocate of the clear method
    argued that a clear() method would be easy to find in documentation,
    and wouldn't require understanding slicing to use it, but none of the
    developers would agree to expand the API just to add a third-way to do
    it, so it seems unlikely that anything more will come of this at this
    time. Raymond Hettinger also noted that slicing is one of the first
    concepts presented in the tutorial -- it is so basic to the language
    that it would be a mistake steer people away from learning it.

    Contributing threads:

    - `List copy and clear (was Re: Inconsistent API for sets.Set and
    build-in set) <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-June/054522..html>`__
    - `List copy and clear (was Re: Inconsistent API for sets.Set and
    build-in set) <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054527..html>`__

    [TAM]


    ------------
    Money Module
    ------------

    Facundo Batista announced that the `Money module`_ is taking form
    quickly, a "pre-PEP", and unit tests have been written. Raymond
    Hettinger and Aahz noted that a "pre-PEP" is really a misnomer: PEPs
    describe enhancements to the Python core and standard library, while
    Money is still rather experimental and unlikely to see inclusion
    anytime soon. Facundo invited any interested parties to join the
    discussion in the pymoney-general list on SourceForge.

    ... _Money module: http://sourceforge.net/projects/pymoney

    Contributing threads:

    - `Money module
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054558.html>`__

    [TDL]


    ------------------------
    Bug-reporting Checklists
    ------------------------

    Brett Cannon posted a draft of a checklist to help users report bugs.
    Several minor improvements were suggested, but Raymond Hettinger
    expressed mild dislike for the idea, describing it as "administrivia"
    that might actually prevent people from filing bugs. Terry Reedy
    suggested, along with the checklists, some minor changes to the
    structure of the python.org site (to define bugs, help determine
    whether a bug has already been reported, etc.) would help even more.

    Contributing threads:

    - `checklist for filing a bug
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054737.html>`__

    [TDL]


    ===============
    Skipped Threads
    ===============
    - `how to create single exe dos file
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054536.html>`__
    - `cephes module missing
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054537.html>`__
    - `Inconsistent API for sets.Set and build-in set
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054560.html>`__
    - `python-dev Summary for 2005-06-16 through 2005-06-30 [draft]
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054624.html>`__
    - `using pyhon from the MSYS shell
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054636.html>`__
    - `Possible C API problem?
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054638.html>`__
    - `Weekly Python Patch/Bug Summary
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054648.html>`__
    - `Expanding max chunk size to 4GB.
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054671.html>`__
    - `Request to add developer
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054674.html>`__
    - `C bindings calling tmpfileblocks interrupt signal
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054690.html>`__
    - `Another SoC student for CVS access
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054718.html>`__
    - `__autoinit__
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054788.html>`__
    - `SF patch #1214889 - file.encoding support
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054870.html>`__
    - `e-mail addresses
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054874.html>`__
    - `[Python-checkins] python/dist/src/Miscdevelopers.txt, 1.15, 1.16
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054876.html>`__
    - `Is PEP 237 final -- Unifying Long Integers and Integers
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054879.html>`__
    - `Python on PyPI
    <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2005-July/054880.html>`__


    ========
    Epilogue
    ========

    ------------
    Introduction
    ------------

    This is a summary of traffic on the `python-dev mailing list`_ from
    July 01, 2005 through July 15, 2005.

    It is intended to inform the wider Python community of on-going
    developments on the list on a semi-monthly basis. An archive_ of
    previous summaries is available online.

    An `RSS feed`_ of the titles of the summaries is available. You can
    also watch comp.lang.python or comp.lang.python.announce for new
    summaries (or through their email gateways of python-list or
    python-announce, respectively, as found at http://mail.python.org).

    This is the seventh summary written by the python-dev summary cabal of
    Steve Bethard, Tim Lesher, and Tony Meyer.

    To contact us, please send email:

    - Steve Bethard (steven.bethard at gmail.com)
    - Tim Lesher (tlesher at gmail.com)
    - Tony Meyer (tony.meyer at gmail.com)

    Do *not* post to comp.lang.python if you wish to reach us.

    The `Python Software Foundation`_ is the non-profit organization that
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    --------------------
    Commenting on Topics
    --------------------

    To comment on anything mentioned here, just post to
    `comp.lang.python`_ (or email python-list at python.org which is a
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    -------------------------
    How to Read the Summaries
    -------------------------

    The in-development version of the documentation for Python can be
    found at http://www.python.org/dev/doc/devel/ and should be used when
    looking up any documentation for new code; otherwise use the current
    documentation as found at http://docs.python.org/ . PEPs (Python
    Enhancement Proposals) are located at http://www.python.org/peps/ . To
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    http://cvs.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/viewcvs.cgi/python/ . Reported
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    Please note that this summary is written using reStructuredText_. Any
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    wonders of programs that like to reformat text do not allow me to
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    ... _python-dev: http://www.python.org/dev/
    ... _SourceForge: http://sourceforge.net/tracker/?group_id=5470
    ... _python-dev mailing list: http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-dev
    ... _c.l.py:
    ... _comp.lang.python: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=comp.lang.python
    ... _PEP Markup: http://www.python.org/peps/pep-0012.html

    ... _Docutils: http://docutils.sf.net/
    ... _reST:
    ... _reStructuredText: http://docutils.sf.net/rst.html
    ... _PSF:
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    ... _last summary: http://www.python.org/dev/summary/
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    ... _RSS feed: http://www.python.org/dev/summary/channews.rdf
    Steven Bethard, Jul 31, 2005
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. > This is the seventh summary written by the python-dev summary cabal of
    > Steve Bethard, Tim Lesher, and Tony Meyer.


    Thanks guys. The work is excellent and appreciated.


    Raymond
    Raymond Hettinger, Aug 1, 2005
    #2
    1. Advertising

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