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New Leadership for IronPython

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Leadership of the community run IronPython project has been passed to Alex Earl and Benedikt Eggers. Jeff Hardy, the previous leader, has been running the project since Microsoft ceased active involvement in 2010.

Jeff Hardy writes:

It should be fairly obvious that IronPython has stagnated for a bit, and that's mostly my fault for being a bottleneck. For many reasons I just don't have the time right now to give IronPython the attention it deserves, so I'm handing control of the project to Alex Earl and Benedikt Eggers. With new leadership that has the time to properly run the project, it should be able to make a lot more progress.

I'll still be lurking and may chime in when I can. It's been a fun few years, and IronPython is in good hands.

In terms of stagnation, the last version of IronPython to be released was 2.7.5 in December of 2014 and that was just “primarily a collection of bug fixes”.

IronPython 3

One of the most important issues on the roadmap is support for Python 3 via the IronPython 3 project. With the Python 2.x series hitting end of life in 2020, having a .NET compatible version of Python 3 is essential for the long-term survival of the initiative.

Of course with any major update there are bound to be debates. The one that will probably have the most impact is the decision about which versions of .NET to support. The 2.7 series went as low as .NET 3.5. With Microsoft no longer supporting .NET 4.0, 4.5, or 4.5.1, some developers are requesting that IronPython 3 set its minimum version to .NET 4.5.2.

The major objection to this plan comes from Windows Server 2003. Though not supported since this time last year, many companies are still using it for mission critical software. And the highest version of .NET it can handle is 4.0.

They would also like to support .NET Core, but have not yet evaluated it to see if it covers everything they need.

C Support

A major limitation for IronPython’s adoption is the need to interoperate with C based libraries in the same manner as CPython. Traven, lead editor of TheLastTechie, writes:

Another important issue that came up in discussions was how to implement support for Python libraries that require use of the C Extensions. If IronPython wants the broadest possible audience, this isn’t just an option. Many major Python libraries, like Numpy, use the C extensions for speed. They should ideally work without needing to be recompiled.

The amazing news is that some work has already been done in this area, namely Ironclad, a project devised to allow compiled CPython extensions to work as-is in IronPython. The bad news is the project hasn’t seen much work in a long time. It’s going need to be heavily revised to be useful for modern Python.

The IronPython project is available on GitHub under the Apache 2 open source license.

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