Python Packaging: Why Don’t You Just…?
2021-11-10, 17:00–17:20 (UTC), Room 3

Every packaging system has its specific way of doing things, but to an outsider. Python’s seems to have a knack of finding the most non-straightforward and weird solution for every choice. This talk attempts to trace some of the peculiarities to find out the reasoning behind the decisions, and how they stand in the modern packaging landscape.


Python packaging has a long and winding history. When it startd out, few communities have good packaging offerings, and Python’s was praised for being easy to be picked up and develop with. As time went on, many tried to bring in new ideas from relatively new packaging systems to “modernise” Python packaging, but those suggestions are not always received favourably, and Python’s packaging community is sometimes categorised as overly conservative, or even user-hostile due to this.

In most of such situations, however, the main problem is not that Python packaging is unwilling to change, but there are certain design decisions that affect how problems should be approached. While those characteristics may seem alien to newcomers, they are made to accomdate special needs in the Python community, and any changes to the packaging system need to take them into consideration. This sometimes require contributors to be more creative when putting together a new feature, but the Python community is only as valuable as its users, and new progress should avoid throwing away what enable Python to grow to what it is.

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