March 11, 2011

Supporting All Versions of Python All The Time With Tox

This talk actually used the differences between Python 2 and Python 3 as the major version differences, but these are just an extreme example of inter-version differences.

Tox uses a config file that allows you to specify (among other things) which Python versions should be tested, dependencies between tests and so on. But how do we cope with syntax differences, where(for example) Python 2 code will raise syntax errors. The 2to3 utility is a fast and very comprehensive tool, and you can test for Python 3 and run 2to3 automatically in your

It is possible to generate a single source file that compiles under both Python 2 and Python 3, but this is not easy. Often it's easier to convert - particularly for tests, where automatic conversion may not work. Tests may be distributes or non-distributed. In both cases converting the tests to Python 3 is likely to be required. Automated conversion is always subject to failure.

It's possible to use different environments (virtualenv) for the different versions, and even with Jython. Although tox can be used from the command line, it was designed for use in continuous integration. It does need to be bootstrapped a little bit: it should be installed locally (probably under a virtualenv!) You can also define a custion PyPI index.

Summary: the most important thing is to be able to support Python3. The single source approach requires most discipline. Mozilla is hiring. Had to leave the Q&A to start a meeting. Sorry.

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