Python's version 3 branch has just announced the release of its newest beta edition, 3.4.0.
Originally released as alpha 1 in August 2013, Python 3.4 promised a slew of new releases, many of them in the form of new modules that add core functionality to the language. Among them:
pathlib: An object-oriented library for accessing the local filesystem. Several third-party modules exist for providing this kind of functionality, and a previous attempt to add such functionality to Python's libraries was rejected. Derived from an existing third-party module,
pathlib adds this functionality to Python in an official, sanctioned way and is designed to learn from the mistake of the previously rejected or unused modules.
enum: A way to provide a standard enumeration type to Python. Enumeration makes it possible to take a set of names and bind them to constant values, such as days of the week or states for a given function. Again, Python had ways to do this before (for example:
flufl.enum), but none of them were official standards.
statistics: Python is used increasingly by mathematicians and data scientists as a way to massage and process data. The inclusion of a standard stats module seems way overdue.
Also coming is a standard way for modules to provide metadata to Python without needing to be imported first, better hash algorithms to prevent the use of hash collision attacks on Python programs, and many more items.
Unfortunately, the changes coming to 3.4 still don't offer much of a balm for the single biggest issue many people have with Python: There are still two major forks of the language, the 2.x and the 3.x versions. Those using 2.x often don't have a smooth upgrade path to 3.x, a common complaint. Granted, many major Python frameworks like Django are 3.x-compatible, but it's been a slow and difficult process for many with a major investment in Python 2.x.
The master release of version 3.4 is scheduled to come out Feb. 23, 2014. A second beta and two more candidate releases are set to be produced between then and now.
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