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There was a great talk recently by Rich Hickey[0] about how change itself is breakage. Breaking early and often is catastrophically worse than python 2.7 in my opinion.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyLBGkS5ICk




Agreed. Hickey, in that talk, claimed if you really did break backward compatibility, you should just name it something else. So in real terms Python3 should have been renamed to Pythonidae or something like that. Eventually the last folks working in the 2.7.* branch would notice that nobody else was in the room and hopefully figure out where they went.


I disagree. Python 2->Python 3 was not really a huge change. It seems that the Python 2 userbase is finally starting to dissolve but IMO the holdouts were mostly doing it for philosophical purposes. Renaming the project for Python 3 would've resulted in a massive decrease in useful searchability, history, etc, when really only a small handful of backward incompatible changes were at stake.

It seems the better lesson is a) keep compatibility for a LONG time; there are finally some old Windows programs that Windows 10 no longer runs; and b) when you do break compatibility, don't make a big deal out of it.

Python 3 probably would've been better if it was just a feature-heavy incremental release that didn't break compatibility. 3.2 probably should've introduced a change that discouraged but still supported the old code style (maybe print a warning any time the file didn't contain a shebang-style header like #!allow_old_style, kind of a simpler reverse-version of the future module), and then maybe 3.8 could finally remove compatibility after the old method has been deprecated and difficult and annoying for 10 years or so. Making a hard delineation between compatibility, while on the surface appearing useful, seem to have a much stronger negative effect in encouraging users to stick with "their" version out of principle than it has the planned positive effect of giving users plenty of time and notice about compatibility breakages.

This seems gradual enough that most users won't notice and there won't be a hubbub, nor an insurrection among users to shun your new iteration for making them do extra work.

Dealing with people effectively, including end users, is very difficult. It takes a lot of patience.


If you look at long-running, successful projects, they don't do this.

One example is the original V8 dev team that went off to create Dart (AIUI). Nobody followed them and V8 got replacement developers. (But perhaps that was a particularly egregious case.)


I feel like the only responsible thing to do in such cases—if you truly believe that the thing you're abandoning is just a plain-old failure of engineering, and it's effectively self-flagellation to be subjected to maintaining it—is to poison the well/salt the earth when you leave, so that people are at least forced to switch to something else, if not your replacement project.

Badly-engineered buildings get condemned, and we make it illegal to use them, even if it might benefit someone to use the building in exchange for the (likely not-very-well-considered) risk of the roof falling on them.

What sort of political/social infrastructure would it take to allow someone to condemn a codebase?


Google has begun building "time bombs" into Chrome that will start inconveniencing users once the binaries reach a certain age without being updated (I believe this is specifically related to certificate validation, but I'm not going to look up details because I don't want to be put on a watchlist for googling "chrome time bomb" :P ).



Is the watchlist for googling it worse than the watchlist for writing it?


Nah, I was just on my phone and needed an excuse for my laziness. :P




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