FLOSS Project Planets

Mario Hernandez: Running a training workshop

Planet Drupal - Sat, 2024-06-15 22:24

Update 1-10-19
I wrote an extended version of this post at Mediacurrent's blog, check it out.

As long as I can remember I've enjoyed public speaking. This doesn't mean I am good at it, it simply means I enjoy it. School events, class president, my jobs, etc., they all taught me great lessons about public speaking. So when I started as a developer, sharing my knowledge with others at conferences or meetups came pretty natural.

I'd like to clarify, that after years of doing talks and other methods of public speaking, I am still terrified. I get nervous, my hands sweat, my legs shake, and my voice gets weird. Basically what I am trying to say is that I'm not an expert by any means, but I overcome the phobia of public speaking by doing it frequently.

For many years I have speaking at conferences, but in the past few years I started conducting longer workshops. I first started doing online workshops, which have their pros and cons. While they don't put you face to face with your audience, it also does not give you a good sense for how effective your training is because you can't see people reactions. For this reason I prefer to do face-to-face training.
As part of my job I conduct periodic Front-End training workshops for clients and recently I started conducting all-day training workshops at conferences. I really enjoy it and I'ld like to share some of the lessons learned.

Picking a topic

Ideally you want to pick a topic you feel 100% confident about. I have learned that people attending your training or talks welcome any information you can share no matter how simple or elementary it may feel to you. Don't ever think what you know may not be of interest to others because you would be wrong.

Lately I have been challenging myself a little more when picking a topic to train about. While is good to know the topic well, it is also extremely rewarding to pick a topic you'd like to learn more about. This may feel contrary to what I said ealier but hear me out. When you decide to train on a topic, you will spend a lot of time preparing, training, testing and reharsing. This is exactly how you learn a new skill. I can't tell you how many times I come out of training I did knowing more about the topic than before and also learning from people who attended the training. If you want to learn a new skill, teaching others about it could be the best way for you to learn it.

Preparing for the training

Everyone has their own style for teaching or doing a presentation. Some people like to use slides and screenshots, others show recordings of their project or code. My personal preference is to build a working prototype. This to me presents many advantages, but it also means you will spend more time getting ready.
My training workshops usually include very little slides because the majority of the training will be spent writing actual code and building the prototype during the training.

Here's my typical process for preparing for a training workshop:

  • Identify a prototype that serves the purpose of the training. If I am teaching a workshop about component based development I would normally pick something that involves the different aspects of component based development (attoms, nested components, reusable components, etc.)

  • Build the prototype upfront to ensure you have a working model to demo and go by.

  • Once prototype is built, create a public repo so you can share the working prototype

  • Write step-by-step instructions to building the prototype. Normally I would break the prototype down into small components, atoms.

  • Test, test and test. You want to make sure yoru audience will not run insto unexpected issues while following your instructions. For this reason you need to make sure you test your instructions. Ask a friend or colleague to go through each of your excercises to ensure thing work as expected.

  • Provide a pre-training evaluation. A quick set of questions that will give you an idea of people's skills level as well as environment (Linux, Widows, OSX). This will help you plan ahead of time.

  • Build a simple slide deck for introductions and agenda purposes. Mainly I move away from slides as soon as introduction and agenda is done. The rest of the training is all hands on.

Communicate with your audience ahead of time

As you will learn, one thing that can really kill a lot of the time during training is assisting people with their local environment setup. I have conducted training workshops where I've spent half the time helping people with their environment. For this reason, nowadays I communicate with the people ahead of time to ensure everyone's local environment is ready to go.

I normally make myself available once or twice in an evening through a google hangout to assit anyone who may need help. I also provide detailed instructions on how to get their local environment ready. This could save you a lot of time during training. In addition, for those who did spend the time on getting their environment ready, it's not fair that they have to be held back because someone did not make an effort to setup their environment.
I make myself available ahead of training but if someone is still having issues because of neglect, I don't hold the rest of the class back. I try to help them but at some point I move on.

During training

If possible, get help from someone who is also well-versed with the topic so they can assist you help people who may get stuck. Nothing is more frustrating that havign to break the flow of the training to help people who get stuck. Having someone else help you with this allows you to continue with the training and not have everyone loose momentum.

Finally

Enjoy yourself. Make sure you and your audience have fun. If you show excitement in what you are doing people will get excited as well.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

GNU Taler news: GNU Taler plugin for Adobe Commerce (Magento) now available

GNU Planet! - Sat, 2024-06-15 18:00
This project implemented the GNU Taler payment system in Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento). An extension was developed that can now be included in all Adobe Commerce online shops.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

This week in KDE: Final Plasma 6.1 polishing and new features for 6.2

Planet KDE - Sat, 2024-06-15 01:11

Plasma 6.1 is due to be released in three days, and lots of attention went into final release readiness activities: QA, bug-fixing, performance profiling, auto-testing, stuff like that. Boring but important! And happily, reviews of the 6.1 beta are, like, really good. So we want to make sure that the final release doesn’t disappoint!

In addition, we’re hard at work on Plasma 6.2, which is now beginning to accumulate features. Major areas of focus are some of the remaining Wayland pain points, including tablet and artist workflows. You can see some progress on that already:

New Features

Added an additional option for how to map the area of your drawing tablet to the area of your screen. It can be useful to have multiple options here, since drawing tablets are as diverse as screens, and their sizes and aspect ratios are unlikely to be identical (Joshua Goins, Plasma 6.2.0. Link):

Added a test mode feature for drawing tablets so you can test your settings (Joshua Goins, Plasma 6.2.0. Link):

Ported the Weather widget to the new API offered by the NOAA weather provider, which unlocked night forecasts in addition to the existing day forecasts (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 6.2.0. Link 1 and link 2)

This is new, so please excuse the UI glitches that are visible here. They’ll be cleaned up before the final release of Plasma 6.2 in four months. UI Improvements

You can now wake up a sleeping screen using a stylus (David Redondo, Plasma 6.1.1. Link)

KWin’s Morphing Popups effect has been deleted. While it added a measure of fanciness, unfortunately the way it worked introduced unfixable visual glitches. After multiple attempts to fix them, with a heavy heart we had to admit defeat. Removing the effect fixed six open Bugzilla tickets, one of which had 20 (!) duplicates. Stability beats fanciness. (David Edmundson, Plasma 6.2.0. Link)

Bug Fixes

Scrolling in Elisa’s lyrics view once again works with a clicky scroll wheel mouse (Jack Hill, Elisa 24.05.1. 24.05.1)

Fixed that annoying bug that affected people not using Systemd (or Plasma’s Systemd integration) which would make some but not all Plasma settings fail to get saved properly (David Edmundson, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

Fixed a bug that could cause Plasma’s “Unify Outputs” screen action to actually disable certain screens instead of making them mirror the existing one (Xaver Hugl, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

Quickly adapted to the NOAA weather provider’s continued API changes by implementing a quick fix to keep it working for the Weather widget in Plasma 6.1. (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

Fixed multiple issues causing System Monitor widgets displaying certain types of days to be visually squished when displayed on Plasma panels (Arjen Hiemstra, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

Fixed a visual glitch that caused flickering when canceling a quick-tile action initiated by dragging a window (Xaver Hugl, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

When you change the system volume using the slider in Plasma’s Audio widget, the maximum volume in overdrive mode is once again 150%, not 153% (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 6.1.0. Link)

Fixed an issue that could cause XWayland-using apps to freeze for a short period of time after slowly resizing their windows, especially when using screen scaling (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 6.1.1. Link)

In System Monitor pie charts (both in the app and the widgets), text in the center no longer sometimes overflows when it’s very long (Arjen Hiemstra, Plasma 6.1.1. Link)

Other bug information of note:

Performance & Technical

Improved the memory efficiency of Plasma notifications that display images (Fushan Wen, Plasma 6.2. Link)

Automation & Systematization

Added a test to ensure that Plasma panel focus works as expected (Niccolò Venerandi, link)

Added a test to ensure that images in Plasma notifications appear properly (Fushan Wen, link)

Added a test for some more combinations of settings in Plasma’s Clipboard widget, since there are rather a lot of them (Fushan Wen, link)

Added a test to ensure that the camera usage monitor is working (Fushan Wen, link)

Added a test to make sure the keyboard brightness is settable as expected (Fushan Wen, link)

…And Everything Else

This blog only covers the tip of the iceberg! If you’re hungry for more, check out https://planet.kde.org, where you can find more news from other KDE contributors.

How You Can Help

The KDE organization has become important in the world, and your time and labor have helped to bring it there! But as we grow, it’s going to be equally important that this stream of labor be made sustainable, which primarily means paying for it. Right now the vast majority of KDE runs on labor not paid for by KDE e.V. (the nonprofit foundation behind KDE, of which I am a board member), and that’s a problem. We’ve taken steps to change this with paid technical contractors — but those steps are small due to growing but still limited financial resources. If you’d like to help change that, consider donating today!

Otherwise, visit https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover other ways to be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

GNU Taler news: Real-time GNU Taler auditor

GNU Planet! - Fri, 2024-06-14 18:00
This bachelor thesis implements puts it's focus on the GNU Taler auditor. Cedric Zwahlen and Nicola Eigel made it real-time and added single page application.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

GSOC Week 1 Week 2

Planet KDE - Fri, 2024-06-14 14:37
This is the first blog post of my GSOC journey. I will be sharing my works and experiences here. Stay tuned for more updates. In this blog, I’ll be sharing my experiences of the first two weeks of GSOC, what are the works I did, what are challenges I faced and how did I overcome them ( Did I really overcome them :P ). On my first week I tried to understand the codebase of discover first, via doing small changes.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

KDE Gear 24.08 release schedule

Planet KDE - Fri, 2024-06-14 13:38

 

This is the release schedule the release team agreed on

  https://community.kde.org/Schedules/KDE_Gear_24.08_Schedule

Dependency freeze is in around 4 weeks (July 18) and feature freeze one
after that. Get your stuff ready!
 

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

mark.ie: My Drupal Core Contributions for week-ending June 14th, 2024

Planet Drupal - Fri, 2024-06-14 12:00

Here's what I've been working on for my Drupal contributions this week. Thanks to Code Enigma for sponsoring the time to work on these.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

The Drop Times: Shawn Perritt on Reintroducing One of the Pioneers of the Internet to the World

Planet Drupal - Fri, 2024-06-14 10:36
Discover the transformative journey of Drupal's rebranding in an exclusive interview with Shawn Perritt, Brand and Creative Director at Acquia. During DrupalCon Portland, Shawn unveiled the refreshed Drupal brand, highlighting the collaborative efforts to modernize its identity while preserving its core values. In conversation with Alka Elizabeth, Sub-editor at The DropTimes, Shawn shares insights into the strategic thinking behind the rebrand, the unique challenges faced, and the aspirations driving this significant change. Join us for an in-depth look at how Drupal is poised to reintroduce itself to the world.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Web Review, Week 2024-24

Planet KDE - Fri, 2024-06-14 09:14

Let’s go for my web review for the week 2024-24.

Microsoft Will Switch Off Recall by Default After Security Backlash

Tags: tech, microsoft, privacy

Unsurprisingly they had to adjust under the pressure. The most blatant issues might be gone, it is still a bad idea at its core.

https://www.wired.com/story/microsoft-recall-off-default-security-concerns/


AI chatbots are intruding into online communities where people are trying to connect with other humans

Tags: tech, ai, machine-learning, gpt, criticism, ethics

Chatbots can be useful in some cases… but definitely not when people expect to connect with other humans.

https://theconversation.com/ai-chatbots-are-intruding-into-online-communities-where-people-are-trying-to-connect-with-other-humans-229473


Malicious VSCode extensions with millions of installs discovered

Tags: tech, vscode, security, ide

How trustworthy are the extensions you get in your editor or IDE? I’d expect most marketplaces to not be well harmed against such attacks.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/malicious-vscode-extensions-with-millions-of-installs-discovered/


HTTP/3 needs us (and other people) to make firewall changes

Tags: tech, http, quic, firewall

Good reminder that firewalls need to be adjusted for proper HTTP/3 support.

https://utcc.utoronto.ca/~cks/space/blog/sysadmin/HTTP3AndOurFirewalls


HTTP/3 in curl mid 2024 | daniel.haxx.se

Tags: tech, http, quic

Interesting status report about HTTP/3 support in curl. Shows quite well the various alternatives and how special HTTP/3 can be.

https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2024/06/10/http-3-in-curl-mid-2024/


What is PID 0? · blog.dave.tf

Tags: tech, unix, linux, kernel, system, processes

Interesting deep dive in where the PIDs seen in user space come from. And also yes, there is something matching PID 0 which can be traced back to early UNIX systems.

https://blog.dave.tf/post/linux-pid0/


Scan HTML faster with SIMD instructions: Chrome edition – Daniel Lemire’s blog

Tags: tech, cpu, performance, SIMD

SIMD keeps providing interesting performance boosts for parsing work loads.

https://lemire.me/blog/2024/06/08/scan-html-faster-with-simd-instructions-chrome-edition/


Rolling your own fast matrix multiplication: loop order and vectorization – Daniel Lemire’s blog

Tags: tech, c++, compiler, performance, matrix

The ordering used for matrix multiplications definitely matters.

https://lemire.me/blog/2024/06/13/rolling-your-own-fast-matrix-multiplication-loop-order-and-vectorization/


You’ll regret using natural keys

Tags: tech, databases, design

Good advice on designing your database tables. The comments are good too, they allow to complete the picture.

https://blog.ploeh.dk/2024/06/03/youll-regret-using-natural-keys/


Brain dump – Pagination for database objects

Tags: tech, backend, databases

The right and wrong approaches for paginating results coming from a database.

https://www.n16f.net/blog/pagination-for-database-objects/


Optimal SQLite settings for Django

Tags: tech, django, databases, sqlite

Little and to the point reference on safer SQLite use. I should check if some of this would apply or is used by Akonadi as well.

https://gcollazo.com/optimal-sqlite-settings-for-django/


the Gilbert–Johnson–Keerthi algorithm explained as simply as possible

Tags: tech, geometry, mathematics, algorithm

Need to know if two shapes overlap? Good explanation of an elegant algorithm to do it.

https://computerwebsite.net/writing/gjk


Feynman’s Razor - by Defender of the Basic

Tags: tech, documentation, communication, gui

Nice reminder that even though we try to make things simpler to understand to people, there is a point where we can go too far.

https://defenderofthebasic.substack.com/p/feynmans-razor


Foreword for Fuzz Testing Book

Tags: tech, fuzzing, tests, history

Ever wondered where fuzz testing is coming from? This is an important bit of history.

https://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~bart/fuzz/Foreword1.html


Post-Architecture: An Open Approach to Software Engineering

Tags: tech, software, architecture

Indeed this is not for any environment and projects. So take it with a grain of salt. That said, I think this piece has a core truth to it which is more general. Software architectures shouldn’t be considered as something fixed as soon as they are planned, they need to be validated through use and to be prepared to evolve over time as needed.

https://arendjr.nl/blog/2024/06/post-architecture/


Bye for now!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

EuroPython: Humble Data workshop for beginners - Pythonistas and data scientists

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 08:38

Among the many wonderful workshops at EuroPython this year, we are pleased to announce we will be running the Humble Data workshop in person on Tuesday 9th July 2023, at the Prague Congress Centre (PCC). This is following successful deliveries of this workshop at PyCon US, Ghana, Namibia, Africa, Germany, Italy, PyData Global and of course, EuroPython 2022 and 2023!

How is the workshop?

Curious about the event? Read on.

Humble Data workshops are designed to get those from underrepresented groups started in both Python and data science, in an inclusive, laid-back and empathic environment. The workshops are designed to help people with zero experience with coding to learn some of the most fundamental operations in Python, and in turn, use these to get started with reading, transforming and visualizing data.

Humble Data at EuroPython 2023

The workshop will happen on 9th July 2024 for 6 hours, from 09:30 to 17:00 at the Prague Congress Centre (PCC), Room Club C

As part of the workshop, participants will work through a series of approachable tutorials with the help of a mentor. For 3 hours (breaks included) we will have teams that will work together with mentors to do plenty of exercises, quizzes and games, to go from Zero to Hero in Python data science. All that participants will need to bring is a laptop with internet access - we will help them get started with the rest!

Let us help you get started on your Python data science journey. You can read more about the workshop here.

How can I get involved?

Like the idea? Join us as a mentor or mentee!

If you’re new to coding or data science, and want to learn more in a supportive environment, apply to join us at the Humble Data workshop by filling in this form (attendees) or this form (mentors). Participation is free for anyone with a EuroPython Conference Ticket or Combined Ticket. Please note that you will need a conference ticket to participate in this workshop - we thank you for your understanding!

If you’re interested in mentoring, we would love to have your help! It is no issue if you&aposre not the most experienced programmer or data scientist: rather, we are looking for people who are respectful, patient, friendly, curious, and able to explain technical concepts in a way that is approachable for beginners. In return, you will receive the eternal gratitude of the organisers and attendees, the chance to meet people outside of your bubble, and in turn show that you don’t need to fit a certain mold to “look like” a developer or data scientist.

Our wonderful Humble Data mentor at EuroPython 2023

Finally, if you know anyone attending EuroPython this year who you think would like to either attend or mentor Humble Data, please encourage them to apply!

If you’re interested in attending as a mentee, please fill in this form, or as a mentor, please fill in this form, by July 1st, 2023.

We can’t wait to see you all in Prague this July!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Real Python: The Real Python Podcast – Episode #208: Detecting Outliers in Your Data With Python

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 08:00

How do you find the most interesting or suspicious points within your data? What libraries and techniques can you use to detect these anomalies with Python? This week on the show, we speak with author Brett Kennedy about his book "Outlier Detection in Python."

[ Improve Your Python With 🐍 Python Tricks 💌 – Get a short & sweet Python Trick delivered to your inbox every couple of days. >> Click here to learn more and see examples ]

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

mark.ie: Setting up a local development environment with DDEV to contribute to Drupal core

Planet Drupal - Fri, 2024-06-14 07:42

Contributing to Drupal core is a little different to contributing to a contrib module. This blog post was written during my Drupal core contribution time, sponsored by Code Enigma.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Qt Creator 14 Beta released

Planet KDE - Fri, 2024-06-14 06:21

We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 14 Beta!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: Python's security model after the xz-utils backdoor

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 06:05

Pablo Galindo Salgado describing the xz-utils backdoor
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)
 

The backdoor of the popular compression project xz-utils was discovered on Friday, March 29th 2024, by Andres Freund. Andres is an engineer at Microsoft who noticed performance issues with SSH while contributing to the Postgres project. Andres wasn't looking for security issues, but after digging into the problem further had discovered an attempt to subvert SSH logins across multiple Linux distros.

This was a social engineering attack to gain elevated access to a project, also known as an "insider threat". An account named "Jia Tan" had begun contributing to the xz-utils project soon after the original maintainer had announced on the mailing list that they were struggling with maintenance of the project. Through the use of multiple sock-puppet accounts pressuring the maintainer and over a year of high-quality contributions, eventually Jia Tan was made a release manager for the project.

"Jia Tan may have a bigger role in the project in the future. He has been helping a lot off-list and is practically a co-maintainer already. :-)"

— xz-utils maintainer, Lasse Collin

Over time a series of small subversive changes were made to the project all culminating in a tainted release artifact that put the backdoor in motion. Luckily for all of us, Andres discovered the attack before the new version was deployed more widely.

How is Python similar to xz-utils?

Pablo Galindo Salgado, Steering Council member and the release manager for Python 3.10 and 3.11, brought this topic to the Language Summit to discuss what could be done to improve Python's security model in the wake of the xz-utils backdoor.

Pablo noted the similarities shared between CPython and xz-utils, referencing the previous Language Summit's talk on core developer burnout, the number of modules in the standard library that have one or zero maintainers, the high ratio of maintainers to source code, and the use of autotools for configuration. Autotools was used by Jia Tan as part of the backdoor, specifically to obscure the changes to tainted release artifacts.

Pablo confirmed along with many nods of agreement that indeed, CPython could be vulnerable to a contributor or core developer getting secretly malicious changes merged into the project.

"Could this happen in CPython? Yes!" -- Pablo

For multiple reasons like being able to fix bugs and single-maintainer modules, CPython doesn't require reviewers on the pull requests of core developers. This can lead to "unilateral action", meaning that a change is introduced into CPython without the review of someone besides the author. Other situations like release managers backporting fixes to other branches without review are common.

There was also an emphasis on "binary files", like wheels, images, certificates, and test data that is checked into the CPython repository. Today some of this data doesn't have a known "upstream" or source where it was generated from making introspection difficult. Part of the xz-utils backdoor utilized binary test data in order to smuggle code into the release artifacts without being reviewed by other developers.

So what can be done?

There aren't any silver bullets when it comes to social engineering and insider threats. Barry Warsaw and Carol Willing both emphasized the importance having an action plan in advance for what to do if something similar to the xz-utils backdoor were to happen in order to promptly fix the issue and alert the community.

Thomas Wouters asked the group whether the xz-utils backdoor was a serious enough event to force a new workflow to be adopted by core developers. Thomas noted that mandatory review of all pull requests had been discussed previously and wasn't adopted at the time, but also wasn't discussed as a security issue like it is today. There's been a hesitance to break peoples' workflows or make it impossible to get bugs fixed. This change would also require a cultural change to make asking for code reviews more common amongst core developers to be effective.

Carol Willing concurred, noting that almost every other project she's contributing to requires reviews for all pull requests.

Guido van Rossum was less convinced that having additional review would help much for security. Guido was more concerned about who is given "commit bit" (write access) in the first place, asking for a higher bar such as whether someone had met the person in real life, at a conference, or over a video call.

Mariatta agreed with verifying identities of core developers, including requiring updates to reconfirm the identities of individuals noting that this is commonplace for employment. Mariatta noted that the contributions being done by CPython core developers is of equal or more importance than any individuals' employment.

Some doubt was thrown on verifying identities, especially via video call, as it's now not unheard of for someone being interviewed for employment over a video call to be different from the person who shows up on the first day of work.

Hugo van Kemenade remarked on removing inactive core developers, noting that it's already documented in the CPython developer guide that inactive or unreachable core developers can be removed with or without notice. There was agreement within the group that this should be done more actively to reduce the chances that unattended privileged accounts are resurrected by malicious actors.

There was some discussion about removing modules from the standard library, especially modules which are not used or have no maintainers. Toshio Kuratomi cautioned that moving modules out of the standard library only pushes the problem outwards to one or more projects on PyPI. Łukasz Langa concurred on this point referencing specifically the "chunk" module removed via PEP 594 and feeling unsure whether the alternative project on PyPI should be recommended to users given the author not being reachable.

Overall it was clear there is more discussion and work to be done in this rapidly changing area.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:27

The Python Language Summit occurs every year just before PyCon US begins, this year occurring on May 15th, 2024 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The summit is attended by core developers, triagers, and Python implementation maintainers for a full day of talks and discussions on the future direction of Python.

This years summit included talks on the C API, free-threading, the security model of Python post-xz, and Python on mobile platforms.

This year's summit was attended by around 45 people and was covered by Seth Larson.

Attendees of the Python Language Summit 2024
(Photo credit: Kushal Das)

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: PyREPL -- New default REPL written in Python

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:26

Lysandros showing the mistake we've all made, no longer a problem in the new REPL
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)

One of the headline features of Python 3.13 is the new interactive interpreter, sometimes known as a "REPL" (Read-Evaluate-Print-Loop) which was contributed by Pablo Galindo Salgado, Łukasz Langa, and Lysandros Nikolaou and based on the PyPy project's own interactive interpreter, PyREPL. Pablo, Łukasz, and Lysandros all were at the Language Summit 2024 to present about this new feature coming to Python.

Why does Python need a new interpreter?

Python already has an interactive interpreter, so why do we need a new one? Lysandros explained that the existing interpreter is "deeply tangled" to Python's tokenizer which means adding new features or making changes is extremely difficult.

To lend further color to this point, Lysandros dug into how the tokenizer had changed since Python was first developed. Lysandros noted that "for the first 12 years [of Python], Guido was the only one who touched the tokenizer" and only later after the parser was replaced did anyone else meaningfully contribute to the tokenizer.

Terse example code for Python's tokenizer

Meanwhile, there are other REPLs for Python that "have many new features that [Python's] interpreter doesn't have that users have grown to expect", Lysandros explained. Some basic features that were listed as examples included lack of color support meaning no syntax highlighting, the ergonomics issues around exit versus exit(), no support for multi-line editing and buffer history, and poor ergonomics around pasting code into the interpreter.

Why PyREPL?

"We've settled on starting our solution around PyREPL", Pablo explained, "our reasoning being that maintaining terminal applications is hard. Starting from scratch would have a much higher risk for users". Pablo also noted that "most people who would interact with the REPL wouldn't test in betas", because Python pre-releases are generally used for running automated tests in continuous integration and not interactively tested manually.

Pablo explained that there are many different terminals and platforms which are all sources of behaviors and bugs that are hard to get right the first time. "[PyREPL] provided us with a solid base that we know works and we can start modifying".

Tasteful modern art or bug in the REPL?

Another major contributing factor was that PyREPL is written in Python. Pablo emphasized that "now people that want to start contributing to the REPL can actually contribute because it's written in Python".

Finally, Pablo pointed out that because the implementation is now partially shared between CPython and PyPy that both implementations can benefit from bug fixes to the shared parts of the codebase. Support for Chinese characters in the REPL was fixed in CPython and is being contributed back to PyPy.

Łukasz noted that adopting PyREPL wasn't a straightforward copy-paste job, there were multiple ideas in PyPy's PyREPL that don't make sense for CPython. Notably, PyPy is written to also support Python 2, so the code was simplified to only handle Python 3 code. PyREPL for PyPy also came with support for PyGame which wasn't necessary for CPython.

Type hints and strict type checking using mypy were also added to PyREPL, making the PyREPL module the first in the Python standard library to be type-checked on pull requests. Adding type hints to the code immediately found bugs which were fixed and reported back to PyPy.

What are the new features in 3.13?

Pablo gave a demonstration of the new features of PyREPL, including:

  • Colored prompts
  • F1 for help, F3 for bracketed paste
  • Multi-line editing and history
  • Better support for pasting blocks of code
     

Below are some recreated highlights from the demo. Pasting code samples into the old REPL that contain multiple newlines would often result in SyntaxErrors due to multiple newlines in a row resulting in that statement being evaluated. Multi-line editing also helps modifying code all in one place rather than having to piece a snippet together line-by-line, modifying what you want as you go:

Demo of multi-line paste in Python 3.13 

And the "exit versus exit()" paper-cut has been bothering Python users for long enough. This error was especially taunting because the REPL clearly knows what your intent is with it's helpful message to "Use exit() to exit":

"exit" without parenthesis just works, finally!
Windows and terminals

Support is already available for Unix consoles (Linux and macOS) in Python 3.13.0-beta1 and the standout feature request so far for PyREPL has been Windows support. Windows was left out because "historically the console on Windows was way different than Unix consoles". Łukasz continued, saying that "they don't intend to support right now" offering a "yes, but..." for users asking for Windows support.

Windows has two consoles today, cmd.exe of yore and the new "Windows Terminal" which supports many of the same features as Unix consoles including VT100 escape codes. The team's plan is to support the new Windows Terminal, and "to use our sprints here in Pittsburgh to finish". Windows support will also require removing CPython dependencies on the curses and readline libraries.

What's next for PyREPL?

The team already has plans cooking up for what to add to the REPL in Python 3.14. Łukasz commented that "syntax highlighting is an obvious idea to tackle". Łukasz also referenced an idea from Tania Allard for accessibility improvements similar to those in IPython.

Łukasz reiterated that the goal isn't to make an "uber REPL" or "replace IPython", but instead to make a REPL that core developers can use while testing development branches (where dependencies aren't working yet).

Łukasz continued that core developers aren't the only ones that these improvements benefit: "many teachers are using straight-up Python, IDLE, or the terminal because the computers they're using don't allow them to install anything else."

Given the applause from the room during the demos, it's safe to say that this work has been received well. There were only concerns about platform support and rollout for the new REPL.

Gregory Smith informed the team that functionality that requires a "Function" key (ie F1, F2, etc) must also be supported without Function keys due to some computers lacking them, like Chromebooks.

Carol Willing was concerned about releasing PyREPL without support for Windows Terminal, especially from a teaching perspective, describing that potential outcome as "painful". Carol wanted clear documentation on how to get the new REPL on Windows. "Positioning [the new REPL] for teaching without clear Windows instructions is a recipe for disaster".

Pablo assured that the team wants to add support for Windows Terminal in time for the first 3.13 release candidate. Pablo could not make guarantees due to a lack of Windows expertise among the three, saying "the reason I'm not saying 100% is because none of us are Windows experts. We understand what needs to be done... but we need some help."

Łukasz named Steve Dower, the Windows release expert for Python, who is "very motivated to help us get Windows Terminal support during sprints". Łukasz reiterated they're "not 100%, but we are very motivated to get it done".

Gregory Smith shared Carol's concern and framed the problem as one of communication strategy, proposing to "not promise too much until it works completely on Windows". By Python 3.14 the flashy features like syntax highlighting would have landed and the team would have a better understanding of what's needed for Windows. The team can revise the 3.13 "What's New in Python" depending on what gets implemented in the 3.13 timeline.

Ned Deily sought to clarify what the default experience would be for users of 3.13. Pablo said that "on Windows right now you will get the [same REPL] that you got before" and "on Linux and macOS, if your terminal supports the features which most of them do, you get the enhanced experience". "What we want in the sprints is to make Windows support the new one, if we get feature parity, then [Windows] will also get the new [REPL]".

Carol also asked to document how to opt-out of the new REPL in the case that support wasn't added in time for 3.13 to avoid differences between educational material and what students were seeing in their terminal. Kushal Das confirmed that differences across platforms is a source of problems for students, saying that "if all [students] have the same experience it's much better than just improving only macOS and Linux" to avoid students feeling bad just due to their operating system.

Pablo said that the opt-out mechanism was already in place with an environment variable and will discuss other opt-out mechanisms if needed for educators.

Emily Morehouse, speaking as a Steering Council member added that the Steering Council has requested an informational PEP on the new REPL. "Hearing concerns about how [the new REPL] might be rolled out... it sounds like we might need something that's more compatible and an easier rollout", leaving the final discussions to the 3.13 release manager, Thomas Wouters. Carol replied that she believes "we could do it in documentation".

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: Lightning Talks

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:13

The Python Language Summit 2024 closed off with six lightning talks which were all submitted during the Language Summit. The talks were delivered by Petr Viktorin, David Hewitt, Emily Morehouse, Łukasz Langa, Pablo Galindo Salgado, and Yury Selivanov.

Petr Viktorin: Unsupported build warning

Do you know what happens when you build Python on an unsupported platform?

"... It works!" -- Thomas Wouters

Petr gave a short presentation on a warning that many folks using Python (and even developing Python!) may have never seen before: the unsupported build warning. This warning appears when building on a platform that's not officially supported by CPython, for example "riscv64-unknown-linux-gnu".

"The platform is not supported, use at your own risk"
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)
 

Just because a platform isn't officially supported by CPython doesn't mean it won't work on that platform, and indeed it's likely that CPython may work fine on the platform or a subset of features may be subtly or not-so-subtly broken or unavailable.

Petr wanted to get a temperature check from the group on whether this warning could be further improved or changed, such as by hiding the warning after the user had executed the test suite or showing the number of tests that had failed.

The room seemed mostly uninterested in exploring this topic further and was in favor of keeping the warning as-is.

David Hewitt: Rust in Python: panic!

David Hewitt maintains the project PyO3 which offers Rust bindings for the Python C API. David explained that these bindings require mapping concepts in the Rust programming language to Python and the topic of today's talk is the panic! macro.

In Rust, the panic! macro will generate a panic, unwind the stack, and then terminate the program while providing feedback to the caller of the program. David showed that there were two methods of handling errors in Rust programs, panic! and Result.

Python functions implemented in Rust use the PyResult type to contain the return value or raised exception which uses the Rust Result type. But what if a Rust function panics, what should PyO3 do?

Today PyO3 raises a separate exception for panics, pyo3_runtime.PanicException to be exact. This exception inherits from BaseException, typically reserved for exceptions that users won't want to catch like KeyboardInterrupt and SystemExit.

David has been receiving feedback from some users that the PanicException inheriting from BaseException is annoying to work with. This is because everywhere that exceptions are caught now needs to also catch PyO3's PanicException, giving the example case of logging exceptions.

David wanted feedback on whether the original choice to inherit from BaseException was appropriate or if there was a better answer.

Pablo Galindo Salgado asked whether an AssertError or RuntimeError would be more appropriate. David replied that he felt that not inheriting from BaseException would "cheapen" the Rust aspect of a panic.

Guido van Rossum offered that he thinks "BaseException is the correct choice", to which there was much agreement from the room.

Emily Morehouse: Formalizing the PEP prototype process

Python Steering Council Member and Language Summit chair, Emily Morehouse, spoke to the group about the PEP prototype process and how formalizing can better support PEP authors.

(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)

Emily started off the talk stating "We all agree that we should be doing more testing and prototyping outside of CPython". She also referenced prior talks like pdb improvements and subinterpreters where this approach was recommended.

Emily noted that the Steering Council has pronounced this as a requirement for PEP authors. She acknowledged that this "can feel a bit bad as a PEP author to be put out into the dark world of figuring out how to gather feedback from the community" and how to manage and distribute a project.

Emily's proposal for improving the PEP process borrows from the TC39 process, which is the process for making changes and improvements to JavaScript. The proposal would see the prototype process be made an "official optional step of the  PEP process" which would then allow creating a separate GitHub repository within the "python" GitHub organization.

This would allow the project to house its own code, issue tracker, and packages would be distributed by the Python organization instead of on someone's personal account. Emily also suggested providing a template for the repository to handle distributions to PyPI.

Emily's theory is that PEPs would see more adoption and get more feedback if they came from an official channel. This approach provides additional support to PEP author and lets the author start gathering community feedback quicker before waiting for PEP pronouncement.

The room was in agreement for moving forward with the process improvement.

Carol Willing thought the improvement would be great but called back to pattern matching for CPython where the work was done in a feature branch of the CPython repository rather than a separate repository. Carol thought using a feature branch worked well for pattern matching and wanted to know how this process might work for future language changes.

Emily replied that the process would be case-by-case depending on the feature whether it's a branch, fork or something else. Thomas Wouters agreed, saying that this proposal appears to be specifically for projects which could be distributed on the PyPI instead of language features.

Łukasz Langa: Python for iOS, finally

Harking back to the previous talk on mobile support for Python, Łukasz wanted to know if the Python team should have a more official presence on phone application stores like the Apple App Store (and maybe the Google Play Store, but Łukasz declined to speak on it since he is an iOS user).

Łukasz noted that there already exists today multiple applications on his phone that "are Python". These applications are useful for trying out Python code, learning Python, and writing small programs.

However Łukasz noted that by not having an official Python application on mobile meant the user experience today is sub-optimal. Some applications are publishing old versions of Python and aren't reachable when being asked to upgrade to newer versions so users can take advantage of new features. Others have suddenly changed from being free to being paid applications. Should the Python development team do something about this?

The response from the room appeared positive, but acknowledged the amount of effort that creating and maintaining such an application would be.

Russell Keith-Magee, the author of BeeWare which is leading the charge to bring Python to mobile platforms, said "Sure, but I'm not building it". After much laughter from the room, Russell noted that the project is "an entirely achievable goal but not a small one".

Ned Deily, macOS release expert, agreed and offered that "implementing a terminal would get us most of the way there".

Pablo Galindo Salgado: Making asserts cooler in 3.14You'll have to imagine the iconic Pablo "✨ woooooow ✨"
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)

Pablo took the term "lightning talk" to heart and gave a 90 second presentation (demo included!) on his plans to improve asserts in Python in version 3.14. The problem statement was summarized as "asserts are kinda sad", after which Pablo showed how when an assert statement fails there isn't much indication about why the condition failed in the error.

Consider how an assertion error might look today:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "main.py", line 7, in <module>
    bar(x, y)
    ~~~^^^^^^
  File "main.py", line 3, in bar
    assert (x + 1) + z == y
           ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
AssertionError

Pretty opaque! In the above example you'll notice that we can't see the values of x, y, or z which makes evaluating what went wrong difficult. Instead, with Pablo's proposed changes the traceback would look like so:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "main.py", line 7, in <module>
    bar(x, y)
    ~~~^^^^^^
  File "main.py", line 3, in bar
    assert (x + 1) + z == y
           ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
AssertionError: assert ((1 + 1) + 11) == 2

With this change the values are visible for the asserted statement. Similarly being able to inspect containers to show where their contents differ, a-la pytest:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "main.py", line 2, in bar
    assert x == y
AssertionError: assert Lists differ: [1, 2, 3, [1, 2]] != [1, 2, 3, [1, 3]]

First differing element 3:
[1, 2]
[1, 3]

- [1, 2, 3, [1, 2]]
?               ^

+ [1, 2, 3, [1, 3]]

Pablo intends to put together a PEP for this feature, including asking questions like whether the process should be hookable and whether user code should be able to provide custom formatters. Stay tuned for that!

Yury Selivanov: Efficient data sharing between subinterpreters

The final talk of the Language Summit was from Yury Selivanov on Memhive, a new "highly experimental" project which adds support for structured data sharing between Python subinterpreters.

Per-Interpreter GIL is a newer feature to Python that allows running multiple "interpreters" in a single instance of Python each with their own Global Interpreter Lock (GIL). Per-interpreter GIL allows for true multi-core parallelism, previously using threads in a Python process would only allow a single Python instruction to execute at a time due to the GIL being shared across all threads.

Being in the same process means that each subinterpreter is sharing the same memory space, and if instructions are executing truly concurrently we run into problems with that shared memory space. PEP 684 which specifies per-interpreter GIL calls out this issue and for now keeps memory allocators using global locking mechanisms.

Yury started the talk by discussing immutable data structures and their properties, the most interesting being how quickly they can be copied in memory. Deep copies are fast for immutable data structures because they are implemented as a single copy-by-reference.

An immutable mapping collection, specifically a hash-array mapped trie (HAMT), has already been implemented in Python for the contextvars module. Context variables need to be copied for every new asynchronous task, so being efficient is important to not impact performance of all async Python workloads.

Yury explaining how to replant a trie 🌲
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)

HAMTs work by transparently updating the trie structure in background of the mapping allowing for structured sharing while minimizing overhead to create new copies.

The invariant for this to work across subinterpreters is that the immutable collection in the main interpreter must not be garbage collected. Maintaining this invariant will require reliable reference counting across subinterpreters ("remote IncRef"). The proposed implementation would have every subinterpreter maintain multiple queues for tracking local and remote reference counts.

Yury explained that similar to how HAMTs provide an immutable mapping collection there is another data structure for immutable list collections which is "just another 5,000 lines of C" (which received some chuckles) and "luckily we won't be the first ones to implement this collection".

After comparing the performance of pickling mappings or using mappings with immutable data structures showed that immutable data structures were much more performant. The performance was better for immutable mappings for both small and large numbers of keys, between 6x and a "ridiculous" 150,000x faster.

"I believe these are the missing components for subinterpreters", Yury noted with many thanks to Eric Snow who has been working on subinterpreters and per-interpreter GIL for years. Yury concluded that this work is being done with a practical use-case in mind so will be completed and usable for others including CPython.

For folks looking for more on this topic, Yury also gave a talk at PyCon US 2024 about his work on Memhive.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: Annotations as Transformers

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:13

The final talk of the main schedule of the Python Language Summit was delivered by Jason R. Coombs on using annotations for transforms. The presentation was accompanied by a GitHub repository and Jupyter notebook illustrating the problem and proposed solution.

Jason is interested in a method for users to "transform their parameters in a reusable way". The motivation was to avoid imperative methods of transforming parameters to "increase reusability, composition, and separation of concerns". Jason imagined transformers which could be "packaged up in a library or used across multiple functions" and would "be applied at the scope of individual parameters".

Python already has a language feature that's similar to this concept with decorators, which allow wrapping a function or class with another function in a syntactically concise way.

Jason noted that "return values can be handled by decorators fairly easily, so [the proposal] is more concerned with input parameters". For a decorator to affect parameters, the decorator "would have to inspect the parameters" and "entangle itself with the function signature".

Diagram from Jason's presentation showing transforms being applied to individual parameters of a function.

Jason's proposal would use type annotations due to type annotations already specifying the desired type, the proposal being to add behavior "this is the type I want to make this" and perform transforms. Below is some example code of the proposal:

def transformer(val: float | None) -> float:
    return val if val is not None else 0

def make_str(val: float) -> str:
    return str(val)

def my_fn(
    p1: transformer,
    p2: transformer
) -> make_str:

    return (p1 ** 2) + p2

Jason went on to show that Pydantic was offering something similar to his proposal by having functions called on parameters and return values using the pydantic.BeforeValidator class in conjunction with typing.Annotated, though this use-case "wasn't being advertised by Pydantic":

from typing import Annotated
import pydantic

def transformer(val: float | None) -> float:
    return val if val is not None else 0

@pydantic.validate_call(validate_return=True)
def my_fn(
    p1: Annotated[float, pydantic.BeforeValidator(transformer)],
    p2: Annotated[float, pydantic.BeforeValidator(transformer)]
) -> Annotated[str, pydantic.BeforeValidator(str)]:

    return (p1 ** 2) + p2

Jason didn't like this approach though due to the verbosity, requiring to use a decorator and provide annotations, and needing an extra dependency.

Eric V. Smith asked if Jason had seen PEP 712, which Eric is the sponsor of, that describes a "converter" mechanism for dataclass fields. This mechanism was similar in that "the type you annotated something with became different to the type you passed". Eric remarked it was "pretty common thing that people want to pass in different types when they're constructing something than the internal types of the class".

Jason replied that he had seen the PEP but "hadn't incorporated it into a larger strategy yet". Steering council member Barry Warsaw noted that he "didn't know what the solution is, but it is interesting... that the problems are adjacent".

There was skepticism from the room, including from typing council member Guido van Rossum, on using type annotations as the mechanism for transformers. Type annotations today don't affect the runtime behavior of the code and this proposal would be a departure from that, Guido noting "process-wise, that's going to be a difficult hurdle".

If type annotations weren't the way forwards, Jason had also considered proposing new syntax or a new language feature and wanted feedback on whether "there's viability" in that approach and if so, "[he] could explore those options".

There were questions about why decorators weren't sufficient, citing PEP 318 motivation section containing examples similar to the ones Jason had presented. Transformers could be assigned to parameters by name, passing in the transformer as a key-value parameters into the decorator like so:

def transformer(val: float | None) -> float:
    return val if val is not None else 0

@apply(p1=transformer, p2=transformer)
def my_fn(
    p1: float,
    p2: float
) -> float:

    return (p1 ** 2) + p2

Jason found this pattern "discouraging" and "less elegant" because the variable name needs to mentioned in multiple places and that he was "hoping for something that was more integrated into the language, to not feel like a second-class feature".

Łukasz Langa commented on the case for removing the "None" type from a union, could already be done with a type guard and drew attention to work being done to allow more complicated type guards. Łukasz was "sympathetic to conciseness, but type checkers already handle this".

Steering Council member Gregory Smith was hesitant to make any change in this area. He agreed that "as a language, we're missing something", but "wasn't sure if we've got a way forward that doesn't make the language more complicated".

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: Limiting Yield in Async Generators

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:13

Zac Hatfield-Dodds came to the Language Summit to present on a fundamental incompatability between the popular async programming paradigm "structured concurrency" and asynchronous generators, specifically when it came to exception handling when the two were mixed together.

Structured Concurrency

Structured concurrency is becoming more popular for Python async programming like with Trio "nurseries" and in the Python standard library with the addition of asyncio.TaskGroup in Python 3.11.

When using structured concurrency, active tasks can be thought of as a tree-like structure where sub-tasks of a parent task have to exit before the parent task itself can proceed past a pre-defined scope. This exit can come through all the tasks completing successfully or from an exception being raised either internally or externally (for example, in the case of a timeout on time-bounded work).

The mechanism which allows a parent task and its sub-tasks to cooperate in this way is called a "cancel scope" which Trio makes a top-level concept but is implicitly used in asyncio.TaskGroup and asyncio.timeout.

Async programs that are structured with this paradigm can rely on exceptions behaving in a much more recognizable way. There's no more danger of a spawned sub-task silently swallowing an exception because all sub-tasks are guaranteed to be checked for their status before the parent task can exit.

The problem with yields

The fundamental issue is that yields suspend the current call frame, in effect "returning" a value, and then the generator needs to be "called" again for execution to be resumed. This suspension doesn't play well with structured concurrency because execution can't be suspended in the same call frame as a cancel scope, otherwise that scope can't process exceptions from its child tasks.


Zac leading a "fun game of 'why is this code broken?'"
(Photo credit: Hugo van Kemenade)

Zac presented some innocuous looking code samples that suffered from the described issue:

async def iter_with_timeout(ait, max_time): try: while True: with asyncio.timeout(max_time): yield await anext(ait) except StopAsyncIteration: return async def fn(): async for elem in iter_with_timeout(ait, max_time=1.0): await do_something_with(elem)

In this example, asyncio.timeout() could expire while the yield had suspended the generator and before the generator was resumed. This scenario would result in the cancellation exception being raised in the outer task outside of the asyncio.timeout() cancel scope. If things had gone to plan and the generator wasn't suspended the cancellation would be caught by asyncio.timeout() instead and execution would proceed.

Zac presented the following fix to the iter_with_timeout() function:

async def iter_with_timeout(ait, max_time): try: while True: with asyncio.timeout(max_time): tmp = await anext(ait) 
yield tmp # Move yield outside the cancel scope!
 except StopAsyncIteration: return

By moving the yield outside the cancellation scope it means that the suspension of the frame isn't happening when execution is inside a cancellation scope. This means that propagation of cancellation errors can't be subverted by a suspended call frame for this program.

If you're still having trouble understanding the problem: you are not alone. There was a refrain of "still with me?" coming from Zac throughout this talk. I recommend looking at the problem statement and motivating examples in the PEP for more information.

Where to go from here

Zac and Nathaniel Smith have coauthored PEP 789 with their proposed solution of disallowing yield statements within context managers that behave like cancel scopes. Attempting to yield within these scopes would instead raise a RuntimeError.

The mechanism would be using a new function "sys.prevents_yields()" which would be used by authors of async frameworks to annotate context managers which can't be suspended safely. Users of async frameworks wouldn't need to change their code unless it contained the unwanted behavior.

The language would need to support this feature by adding metadata to call frames to track whether the current frame should allow yields to occur.

Mark Shannon was concerned that the solution was "lots of machinery to handle the exception being raised in the wrong place" and sought clarification that there would be overhead added to every call and return. Zac confirmed this would be the case, but that it could be done with "one integer [member on call frames] that you increment and decrement, but it would do some operation on every frame call and return".

Irit Katriel asked why a "runtime error" was being used "instead of something static". Zac explained that users might define their own context managers which have a "cancel scope property" and the runtime "wouldn't know statically whether a given context manager should raise an error or not".

Łukasz Langa asked whether adding a type annotation to context managers would be sufficient to avoid adding runtime overhead. Zac responded that "there are still many users that don't use static type checking", and that "there's no intention to make it required by default". Łukasz was concerned that the proposal "would be contentious for runtime performance" due to the impact being "non-trivial".

Pablo Galindo Salgado wanted to explore other big ideas to avoid the performance penalty like adding new syntax or language feature, such as "with noyield" to provide a static method of avoiding the issue. Zac agreed that changing the context manager protocol could also be a solution.

Guido van Rossum lamented that this was "yet another demonstration that async generators were a bridge too far. Could we have a simpler PEP that proposes to deprecate and eventually remove from the language asynchronous generators, just because they're a pain and tend to spawn more complexity".

Zac had no objections to a PEP deprecating async generators¹. Zac continued, "while static analysis is helpful in some cases, there are inevitably cases that it misses which kept biting us... until we banned all async generators in our codebase".

¹ Editors note: after the summit an update to PEP 789 would describe how the problem doesn't exist solely in async generators and thus removal of the feature wouldn't solve the problem, either.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Python Software Foundation: The Python Language Summit 2024: Should we make pdb better?

Planet Python - Fri, 2024-06-14 05:13

Tian Gao came to the Language Summit 2024 to talk about improving pdb, short for "Python debugger", a module and command line tool for debugging Python.

Tian Gao presenting on how to improve pdb

There are not many command-line debugger alternatives to pdb for Python. Tian mentioned a few, including PuDB, pdb++, and ipdb, but those alternatives are all themselves based on either pdb or another standard library module 'bdb'.

pdb is the only "standalone" command-line-based Python debugger

Tian presented a laundry list of desirable new features that could be added to pdb, including:

  • Showing more lines of code around the current breakpoint.
  • Colors in the terminal, syntax highlighting.
  • Customization, with defaults being safe.
  • Handling of more scenarios (threads, asyncio, bytecode, remote debugging)
Performance and backwards compatibility

The biggest issue according to Tian, which he noted had been discussed in the past, was the performance of pdb. "pdb is slow because sys.trace is slow, which is something we cannot change", and the only way forward on making pdb faster is to switch to sys.monitoring to avoid triggering unnecessary events.

Switching to sys.monitoring would give a big boost to performance. According to Tian, "setting a breakpoint in your code in the worst case you get a 100x slowdown compared to almost zero overhead with sys.monitoring". Unfortunately, switching isn't so easy, Tian noted there are serious backwards compatibility concerns for the standard library module bdb if pdb were to start using sys.monitoring.

"If we're not ready to [switch to sys.monitoring] yet, would we ever do this in the future?", Tian asked the group, noting that an alternative is to create a third-party library and encourage folks to use that library instead.

Thomas Wouters started off saying that "bdb is a standard library module and it cannot break user code" and cautioned that core developers don't know who is depending on modules. bdb's interface can't have backwards incompatible changes without long deprecation periods. In Thomas' mind, "the answer is obvious, leave pdb as it is and build something else".

Thomas also noted "in the long-term, a debugger in the standard library is important" but that development doesn't need to happen in the standard library. Thomas listed the benefits for developing a new debugger outside the standard library like being able to publish outside the Python release schedule and to use the debugger with older Python versions. Once a debugger reaches a certain level of stability it can be added to the standard library and potentially replace pdb.

Tian agreed with Thomas' proposal in theory, but was concerned that a third-party debugger on PyPI wouldn't see the same levels of adoption compared to being in the standard library and thus would struggle to meet a threshold of "stability" without a critical mass of users. Or worse yet, maintainers wouldn't be motivated to continue due to a lack of use, resulting in a "dead project". (Some foreshadowing, Steering Council member Emily Morehouse gave a lightning talk on this topic later on in the Language Summit)

Łukasz Langa noted that Python now has support for "breakpoint()" and that "what breakpoint() actually does, we can change. We can run another debugger if we decide to", referencing if a better debugger was added in the future to CPython that it could be made into a new default for breakpoints.

Russell Keith-Magee from BeeWare, was interested in what Tian had said about remote debugging, noting that "remote debugging is the only way you can debug [on mobile platforms]". Russell would be interested in pdb or a new debugger supporting this use-case. Tian noted that unfortunately remote debugging would be one of the more difficult features to implement.

Pablo Galindo Salgado, commenting on existing Python "attach-to-process" debuggers, said that the hacks in use today are "extremely unsafe". Pablo said that "we'd need something inside CPython [to be safe], but then you have another problem, you have to implement that feature on [all platforms]". Pablo also mentioned that attach-to-process debugging is usually a bad model because it can't be enabled by default for security reasons but "you won't know when you'll need to debug".

Anthony Shaw asked about the scope of the project and was interested in whether there could be a framework for debugging in CPython that pdb and others could build on. Anthony pointed out that many other debuggers "needed to do a bunch of hooks and tricks" to do debugging because it's "not provided out of the box by CPython".

Tian responded that "bdb is supposed to do that, but it was written 30 years ago so is too old to support new things that a debugger wants". Others mentioned that sys.monitoring (new in Python 3.12) was meant to be a framework for debuggers to build on.

Gregory Smith, Steering Council member, said he "wants all of these things" and agreed with Thomas to "develop this as much as you can... outside of the standard library", telling Tian that "you're going to end up in a better state that way". Greg's primary concern was whether CPython needed to do anything to enable Tian's proposal. He continued, "it sounds like we (CPython) have most of what we need, but if we don't let's get that planned so we can enable a successful separate project before we ship it with Python in the future".

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