|Jeremy Hylton : weblog : 2004-10-10|
Sunday, October 10, 2004, 6:51 p.m.
Andrew Kuchling argues that we should stop hacking on the Python interpreter and starting improving the standard library. It's exactly the opposite of the argument that Mitch Kapor made in his PyCon keynote: security, performance, developer tools.
I'm sympathetic to Andrew's line of reasoning. In the spirit of worse is better, I've often said that Python isn't faster because it's users are better served by other things, like better libraries or fewer interpreter crashes or better language features. The resources available for developing Python are quite limited and security and performance take a lot of effort.
There is little question that parts of the standard library need improvement; cgi comes to mind first as a module that should be rewritten from scratch. I had hoped that the Web SIG would improve web programming in Python , but it is making headway in only a narrowly focused area.
What else needs work? We need better XML tools that what we find in the standard library. There are good ideas and interfaces in ElementTree and xmltramp -- and even more interesting work in languages like Comega.
I don't agree that we need to retarget Python development, though. There has always been a healthy mix of work on libraries and work on the core language. Python 2.4 has library improvements: new decimal arithmetic, improved doctest, new email package. Python 2.3 had even more: sets, itertools, logging, new pickle protocol, csv files, and BerkeleyDB support.
Morever, Python developers choose what they want to do. There are certainly bugs to fix and patches to review, but new libraries and substantial revisions are usually the result of one or a few people who want to do it.
Andrew posted a list of six issues that ought to be resolved.