20. Adding to the Stdlib


At present, this is not much modified from the CPython base.

While the stdlib contains a great amount of useful code, sometimes you want more than is provided. This document is meant to explain how you can get either a new addition to a pre-existing module in the stdlib or add an entirely new module.

Changes to pre-existing code is not covered as that is considered a bugfix and thus is treated as a bug that should be filed on the issue tracker.

20.1. Adding to a pre-existing module

If you have found that a function, method, or class is useful and you believe it would be useful to the general Python community, there are some steps to go through in order to see it added to the stdlib.

First is you should gauge the usefulness of the code. Typically this is done by sharing the code publicly. You have a couple of options for this. One is to post it online at the Python Cookbook. Based on feedback or reviews of the recipe you can see if others find the functionality as useful as you do. A search of the issue tracker for previous suggestions related to the proposed addition may turn up a rejected issue that explains why the suggestion will not be accepted. Another is to do a blog post about the code and see what kind of responses you receive. Posting to python-list (see Following Python’s Development for where to find the list and other mailing lists) to discuss your code also works. Finally, asking on a specific SIG from mail.python.org or python-ideas is also acceptable. This is not a required step but it is suggested.

If you have found general acceptance and usefulness for your code from people, you can open an issue on the issue tracker with the code attached as a patch. If possible, also submit a contributor agreement.

If a core developer decides that your code would be useful to the general Python community, they will then commit your code. If your code is not picked up by a core developer and committed then please do not take this personally. Through your public sharing of your code in order to gauge community support for it you at least can know that others will come across it who may find it useful.

20.2. Adding a new module

It must be stated upfront that getting a new module into the stdlib is very difficult. Adding any significant amount of code to the stdlib increases the burden placed upon core developers. It also means that the module somewhat becomes “sanctioned” by the core developers as a good way to do something, typically leading to the rest of the Python community to using the new module over other available solutions. All of this means that additions to the stdlib are not taken lightly.

20.2.1. Acceptable Types of Modules

Typically two types of modules get added to the stdlib. One type is a module which implements something that is difficult to get right. A good example of this is the multiprocessing package. Working out the various OS issues, working through concurrency issues, etc. are all very difficult to get right.

The second type of module is one that implements something that people re-implement constantly. The itertools module is a good example of this type as its constituent parts are not necessarily complex, but are used regularly in a wide range of programs and can be a little tricky to get right. Modules that parse widely used data formats also fall under this type of module that the stdlib consists of.

While a new stdlib module does not need to appeal to all users of Python, it should be something that a large portion of the community will find useful. This makes sure that the developer burden placed upon core developers is worth it.

20.2.2. Requirements

In order for a module to even be considered for inclusion into the stdlib, a couple of requirements must be met.

The most basic is that the code must meet standard patch requirements. For code that has been developed outside the stdlib typically this means making sure the coding style guides are followed and that the proper tests have been written.

The module needs to have been out in the community for at least a year. Because of Python’s conservative nature when it comes to backwards-compatibility, when a module is added to the stdlib its API becomes frozen. This means that a module should only enter the stdlib when it is mature and gone through its “growing pains”.

The module needs to be considered best-of-breed. When something is included in the stdlib it tends to be chosen first for products over other third-party solutions. By virtue of having been available to the public for at least a year, a module needs to have established itself as (one of) the top choices by the community for solving the problem the module is intended for.

The development of the module must move into Python’s infrastructure (i.e., the module is no longer directly maintained outside of Python). This prevents a divergence between the code that is included in the stdlib and that which is released outside the stdlib (typically done to provide the module to older versions of Python). It also removes the burden of forcing core developers to have to redirect bug reports or patches to an external issue tracker and VCS.

Someone involved with the development of the module must promise to help maintain the module in the stdlib for two years. This not only helps out other core developers by alleviating workload from bug reports that arrive from the first Python release containing the module, but also helps to make sure that the overall design of the module continues to be uniform.

20.2.3. Proposal Process

If the module you want to propose adding to the stdlib meets the proper requirements, you may propose its inclusion. To start, you should email python-list or python-ideas to make sure the community in general would support the inclusion of the module (see Following Python’s Development).

If the feedback from the community is positive overall, you will need to write a PEP for the module’s inclusion. It should outline what the module’s overall goal is, why it should be included in the stdlib, and specify the API of the module. See the PEP index for PEPs that have been accepted before that proposed a module for inclusion.

Once your PEP is written, send it to python-ideas for basic vetting. Be prepared for extensive feedback and lots of discussion (not all of it positive). This will help make the PEP be of good quality and properly formatted.

When you have listened to, responded, and integrated as appropriate the feedback from python-ideas into your PEP, you may send it to python-dev. You will once again receive a large amount of feedback and discussion. A PEP dictator will be assigned who makes the final call on whether the PEP will be accepted or not. If the PEP dictator agrees to accept your PEP (which typically means that the core developers end up agreeing in general to accepting your PEP) then the module will be added to the stdlib once the creators of the module sign contributor agreements.