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Python Contributor!

I'm rather proud to report that my first contribution to the Python code base has been committed in changeset 80421. To aid in my nostalgia I'm going to discuss what I did and why.

It started a long time ago, I think this post by Jesse Noller inspired me. A new mailing list was set up to encourage more core development, the aim was to get new contributors to the Python codebase. At the same time the Python developers guide was  heavily edited and was made available at http://docs.python.org/devguide/

The call was put out for simple contributions - documentation, examples, improving testing coverage for the standard library and relatively easy beginner tasks to become familiar with the development process.

Using a coverage tool written by Ned Batchelder I generated a list of test coverage for each standard library module. After looking down the list of modules with low test coverage I decided to tackle functools. This was a good trade off in terms of its test coverage was really low (~30%), and personal interest as its a module that I regularly use.
The functools module is for higher-order functions: functions that act on or return other functions. In general, any callable object can be treated as a function for the purposes of this module.
After a look though the source code it appeared the coverage is so low because a function that is implemented in Python get unconditionally replaced with a C equivalent (if present). There were others functions implemented in C that could have been written in pure Python as well.

Modifying the functools module slightly and creating a few more tests was relatively straight forward. I created an issue on Python's bug tracker: http://bugs.python.org/issue12428 and uploaded my patch.

I emailed the core mentorship mailing list to get advice with one design decision and received awesome replies from some core developers that I highly respect; Nick Coghlan, Raymond Hettinger, Antoine Pitrou, √Čric Araujo and Ezio Melotti all went out of their way to help. There was a little bit of debate over the changes and the review cycle went around five times over the course of a year.

I must admit I was surprised by how long it would take for feedback after I uploaded a new revision of the patch. At my work code reviews are rather highly prioritized, although I understand the nature of open source means people will contribute their time where and when they want. Code coverage patches don't really feature highly on most peoples interests, although I think it helped that I had emailed the core mentorship group - at least some people were aware it would be my first contribution.

That said I use Python so much and really wanted to get involved. My itch wasn't a particular issue - I wasn't passionate about the test coverage but rather I just wanted to give something back. Sure I've been using and promoting javascript more and more recently but Python will always be my language in a time of need.

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