Friday, July 13, 2018

Guido van Rossum Steps Down as Python BDFL

Guido van Rossum (via Brian Gesiak):

Now that PEP 572 is done, I don’t ever want to have to fight so hard for a PEP and find that so many people despise my decisions.

I would like to remove myself entirely from the decision process. I’ll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I’ll still be available to mentor people -- possibly more available. But I’m basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own.

I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done.

PEP 572:

This is a proposal for creating a way to assign to variables within an expression using the notation NAME := expr. A new exception, TargetScopeError is added, and there is one change to evaluation order.

I’ve written a lot of Python code that would have benefited from that.

Update (2018-07-15): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-07-19): Jake Edge (via Hacker News):

The discussion around PEP 572 (“Assignment Expressions”) is quite probably the worst offender in the history of Python. It spanned multiple enormous threads, on two different mailing lists (python-ideas to start, then to python-dev once it was “ready”), spawned two separate polls (neither of which were favorably inclined toward the feature), and seemed, at times, interminable. Perhaps the most irritating part of it was its repetitive nature; the same ideas were brought up time and again, no matter how many times the PEP’s authors (originally Chris Angelico, who was joined by Van Rossum and Tim Peters toward the end of the process) and others repeated the arguments against them. It was clear that many were just reacting emotionally (and sometimes histrionically) to the proposal: not reading the PEP or any of the discussion, then loudly proclaiming that their opinion was clearly the only sensible one.


Much of what has been discussed is the PEP decision-making process and how that will change. Prior to his resignation, Van Rossum was the final arbiter of PEPs, except where he delegated his power to a BDFL-Delegate. Many see the role of the “Python Council of Elders” (PCOE) or the “design stewards” (two of the more popular names for the governing body) as largely finding the right person to delegate to for the decision on a given PEP. That group would also be the deciding body of last resort if consensus on a decision is not being reached.

But there is also the question of how long people serve on such a body. Some are calling for “lifetime” appointments with an understanding that folks can stand down at any point, while others would like to see people rotate out of those positions over time.

Update (2019-07-19): Andrea Daniele (via Hacker News):

More recently, van Rossum spoke with the people of the TFiR podcast about the origins of the programming language and the reasons why he decided to leave the reins of the project that he created, and the hints that some developers launched on social networks were a important factor for him to make that decision.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

> I'll spare you the list of medical issues

I hope he's okay. I can't fathom how stressful this kind of thing is.

Just another small voice in appreciation... I still remember vividly how surprised I was to have him enthusiastically respond to me when I first expressed interest in contributing to Python (circa 2000). I'm long way from grad school where I worked on multiple Python implementations — I barely write code any more, but Python is still the language I reach for when I just want to get something done. Thanks Guido!

[…] Previously: Guido van Rossum Steps Down as Python BDFL. […]

Leave a Comment