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Docs The Future of Python Packaging

The Future of Python Packaging

Page Status: Incomplete
Last Reviewed: 2014-04-09

The distutils cross-platform build and distribution system was added to the Python
standard library in late 2000. This means the current Python software distribution
ecosystem (which builds on distutils) has a foundation that is almost 15 years old, which
poses a variety of challenges to successful evolution.

The current effort to improve the situation started when the packaging library (also
known as distutils2 ) failed to be accepted into the standard library for Python 3.3. That
effort had spanned from 2009 to 2012.

The current effort is managed by the Python Packaging Authority (PyPA), in cooperation
with members of the Python core development team.

To provide a relatively easy to use software distribution infrastructure that is also fast,
reliable and reasonably secure. Reasonably secure, due to backwards compatibility
constraints preventing turning off some insecure legacy features.
Although its still being defined, to work towards a Meta-Packaging [1] system that:
Clearly delineates the phases of distribution
Allows for multiple interacting tools vs one monolithic tool
Specifically allows for alternative build systems, i.e. a MetaBuild system.
To improve the docs for users, including the Python Packaging User Guide, anything
related to packaging on docs.python.org, and the project docs for pip, setuptools,
virtualenv, and wheel.
To be progressive, but also be very mindful to not break things that are currently
working, due to haste.
To specifically not focus at first on adding something to the standard library as our
solution to our packaging problems. Adding something to the standard library is hard,
and once its added, its a slow process to change it. Most of the current effort is largely
focused on 3rd party projects.

How to help
Get involved with one of mainstream packaging projects.
Help us catalog and discuss the current problems in packaging and installation. See the
The issue tracker for the problems in packaging maintained by PyPA.
Discuss PEPs and long terms plans at distutils-sig.

Presentations & Articles

In addition to this document, there have been some talks and presentations regarding
current and future efforts related to packaging.

PyCon US, March 2013

Directions in Packaging Q & A Panel (aka ./setup.py install must die)
PyCon AU, July 2013
Nobody Expects the Python Packaging Authority
linux.conf.au 2014
Python Packaging 2.0: Playing Well With Others (video, article)
PyCon US, April 2014
What is coming in Python packaging
Python packaging simplified, for end users, app developers, and open source
Personal essays
Nick Coghlan

Major Todos

Metadata 2.0

See the Metadata Open Issues

PEP426: Metadata for Python Software Packages 2.0

PEP440: Version Identification and Dependency Specification
PEP459: Standard Metadata Extensions for Python Software Packages
Wheel 1.1
sdist 2.0
PEP for common naming schemes
Installation Database 2.0 (replace PEP376)

PyPI Infrastructure

Migration from the legacy PyPI server to Warehouse (the preview is available at
https://warehouse.python.org/ running off the live PyPI data)
PEP458: An integration of PyPI with the The Update Framework (TUF)
Improved PyPI upload API


An internal stable API for pip

Removal of older pip commands and options that arent popular or well maintained
(#906, #1046)
pip needs a real dependency resolver

Docs and Community

Refactor the virtualenv, setuptools, and wheel docs to be consistent with the PyPA
Standard Docs Template
Document pips (and more generally pypas) deprecation policy (Issue 1611)
A general release email list for all Pypa projects?

More PEPs

A MetaBuild PEP that would allow projects to specify alternative build systems (i.e.
something other than setuptools).
Wheel 2.0

[1] See Nick Coghlans The Phases of Distribution and A Meta-Packaging System