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The decorator module version 3 is out!
by Michele Simionato
December 14, 2008
Summary
After a few weeks of work, version 3 of the decorator module is finally out. The new version is a major rewrite of the original implementation, lots of things have been improved under the hood, and the documentation has had a major overhaul too. The module is hosted on the PyPI site: http://pypi.python.org/pypi/decorator.

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This post is intended for users of old versions of the decorator module who want to know what's new and the reasons for the change. Version 3 is a major release and it breaks compatibility with the past in a minor way, but I expect 99.9% of my users to upgrade to the new version without seeing any difference. You can download the tarball here.

Here is a list of the most relevant changes/improvements.

There are also a few considerations I would like to make.

From the start the decorator module was developed with the attitude of teach a man to fish: instead of providing a large API, I have provided a significant collections of examples and recipes. The idea is that you should be able to write your own decorators by yourselves. Version 3 of the module is going even more in that direction.

I have refactored the internals so that now you can not only write you decorators on your own, but you can also write your own decorator facility - the equivalent of decorator - by means of the FunctionMaker class. At the same time the rewriting makes the module more of a library and less of a framework. For instance, in past versions you were forced to write your decorators in terms of caller functions with the signature caller(f, *args, **kw); now you can write your own decorator framework and use the conventions you like. In the documentation I give the example of decorator_apply, which is able to convert third party decorators into signature preserving decorators without rewriting them.

I did not expect the decorator module to leave so long (it is nearly four years old already). In my original intentions, the module was intended to be provisional, a workaround that should have been dropped once better support for decorators entered in the standard library. Unfortunately that never happened. It is true that Python 2.5 added some support for decorators in the functools module, but that support is insufficient in my opinion. Also, I had great hopes for the Function Signature Object (PEP 362) but after more than two years nothing happened. I still hope it will become possible to change the signature of functions in future versions of Python: when that will happen, the decorator module will become obsolete and I will have less code to maintain.

Finally, I have a couple of questions for you, PyPI experts. Is there a simple way to remove the annoying excessive vertical space in the PyPI style-sheet? Look at http://pypi.python.org/pypi/decorator to see what I am referring to. I have uploaded the documentation simply by inserting raw XHTML into the long_description field of the setup.py script and running python setup.py register. It worked but it is kind of a hack. I see that there is the possibility to upload the documentation as a zip file, labeled as experimental feature. I tried it by hand and it works, but I would like to know if there is a way to perform the upload automatically, with some option in the setup.py script.

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About the Blogger

Michele Simionato started his career as a Theoretical Physicist, working in Italy, France and the U.S. He turned to programming in 2003; since then he has been working professionally as a Python developer and now he lives in Milan, Italy. Michele is well known in the Python community for his posts in the newsgroup(s), his articles and his Open Source libraries and recipes. His interests include object oriented programming, functional programming, and in general programming metodologies that enable us to manage the complexity of modern software developement.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2008 Michele Simionato. All rights reserved.

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