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PyCon 2011 Atlanta

March 9th–17th

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The Python That Wasn't

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Experienced / Talk
March 12th 4:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
One reason for Python's success is its restraint in adding new language features. Only the most essential changes make it--and for every change that gets accepted, many more are rejected. Come learn about proposed changes to the Python language that failed--what, how, and why.


  • Quick overview of the process
    • First ten years: send GvR a patch
    • The modern approach: python-ideas, write a PEP, produce a reference implementation
  • Discuss the "prickly" Python community
    • This is a good thing! Only the best ideas survive the python-dev gauntlet!
    • They do this not because they're mean, but because they care so much.
    • We must have eternal vigilance to prevent unnecessary changes!
  • A survey of some changes that didn't make it
    • The switch/case statement (PEP 3103)
    • The "freeze protocol" (PEP 351)
    • The "dynamic attribute access" proposal from python-dev, 2007/02
    • Many more possibilities await in the rejected PEPs!
  • My message to the audience
    • Start with a post to python-ideas, please!
    • Don't be surprised if you get a negative reaction
    • Don't let your fear of a negative reaction stop you from trying, necessarily
    • Do your homework, and be your own worst critic