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Discussion on: Publishing a Python Package: What I Wish the Maze of Tutorials Covered

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Bernd Wechner Author

Thanks for the considered appraisal. It is indeed likely that the - norms arise out of a need for URLs so the package name for example is needed in a URL like: github.com/bernd-wechner/my-package

That said, you misread me a little in that it it is not the specifics of the wherefores and why's that are my central observation or complaint, so much as the enormous unnecessary complexity that would-be contributors are exposed to to this day, not least in a language that is currently at the arguable peak of popularity.

But as you've given a moment to specifics I will add some of my specific test results that led me to pull my hair out and write down these notes (and those results which I did not include as the article is long enough as is). Consider the two configurables, the name of the folder under src and the same declared in setup.cfg. There are 4 variations to explore of - vs _ use and there are two outputs from build, a .tar.gz, and a .whl file. Put this in the context of the official tutorial in which:

name = example-pkg-YOUR-USERNAME-HERE
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That is they use - not _. bear that in mind as you examine these four build outputs:

Using: src/my_package and name = my_package
Produces: my_package-0.1.tar.gz and my_package-0.1-py3-none-any.whl

Using: src/my-package and name = my_package
Produces: my_package-0.1.tar.gz and my_package-0.1-py3-none-any.whl

Using: src/my_package and name = my-package
Produces: my-package-0.1.tar.gz and my_package-0.1-py3-none-any.whl

Using: src/my-package and name = my-package
Produces: my-package-0.1.tar.gz and my_package-0.1-py3-none-any.whl

Key observations:

  1. Two scenarios produce files using the _
  2. The use of name with - never works and yes is the recommended name int he official tutorial
  3. Of the two that build to the same apparent result (files using _) the second publishes fine but cannot be installed and used. Go figure.

In conclusion the official tutorial, one of the last havens we have in a world that will produce is replete (as noted in my intro) an already befuddling number of tutes and more a cacophony of research material (to which I've only added I admit) is both a) wrong (suggests using a name that does not work) and b) completely ignores the issue (let along others, like how to defined requirements).

On top of which, befuddling to me is how that tutorial provides no ready clues on how to contribute to improving it. In so many other context today, such material is anything from an open wiki to sporting feedback buttons or notes on how to help improve the documentation. This one is wrong and the best it offers is a tiny "Found a bug?" link in the footer that jumps to an Issues list at:

github.com/pypa/packaging.python.o...

Given we've come this far (and are still in lockdown here ;-). I may just look at filing an issue or PRing a fix over there for the doc.

But the bemusement goes further. Setuptools for example have (finally) evolved to the point where you can use just a setup.cfg file with a basic setup.py assumed if it's missing. Next step will be for build to simply assume that basic pyproject.toml if it's missing. For one of the most popular languages and community based ones at that it would be nice if sharing packages became much much easier.

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Vincent A. Cicirello

Wow. That's weird that options that won't work actually produce something and in some cases even publish to pypi. If you try to do the equivalent in Java, either directory name or package name or both, you'll get syntax errors when you compile.

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Bernd Wechner Author

Totally agree. It's rather frustrating how complex it is and moreover that the official tutorial suggests something that plain doesn't work.