is a pile of bits

Barrels of Brine

I’ve been very happy spending my evenings working with a small project entitled python-brine. The code is relatively straight-forward, the functionality and goals are well-defined. Put simply, brine allows you to pickle actual python code. For a significantly more in-depth explanation, click the above link and peruse the README.

Brine was originally written back in 2008. It had been written as an “I-wonder” rather than an “I-need” and as such it never saw use except in its own hackish example scripts. Thus from October of 2008 until January of 2014 is sat forgotten.

And then I found it again, and decided it merited resucitation.

Get it moved

The very first thing I did was import it to github. It had been living on code.google.com for all those years… with only one commit.

Before code.google, it had been in a CVS (remember that?) repository on a machine which has long since disappeared. So all history for brine prior to that snapshot in October of 2008 is gone. A lesson in the value of a distributed system like git.

Get it tested

Next I took all of five minutes to “port” it from distutils to setuptools. I had to shuffle a few files around, but in the end it built and the “test” scripts (more like examples) let me confirm that it still worked.

In the last few years one of the things that I’ve discovered that I enjoy doing is writing unit tests and getting to 100% code coverage. As sad as it may sounds, yes I actually have been doing that for fun. It’s very much like a game. The tasks are clearly defined, there’s a simple attainable goal of a perfect score. Right up my alley!

So I took the example scripts and converted them to real unittest cases.

Those tests came in handy when I started actively hacking again on the code itself. I’d resolved to add the remaining missing features, clean things up, document it – to really polish this little project up before setting it on a shelf again. And of course as I tinkered I broke it in weird and unexpected ways. But my unit tests were there to catch me in my errors before I strayed too far.

And so more tests got written, and old code got untangled.

Thank goodness for coverage.py – incredibly easy to use, with detailed reporting. I was able to definitively throw out legacy methods in some cases, while in others I expanded upon my unit tests until in no time at all I’d reached the much vaunted 100% coverage.

Fill in the blanks

The TODO is rapidly shrinking. Tonight I added support – including unit tests – for wrapping functools.partial instances.

I also want to add support for unbound instance methods and class methods. Should be trivial.

The only large change I want to make involves a tweak to the timing on when a barrel brines its contents. Currently the values are brined immediately, which is too early. It needs to wait until just before pickling, to ensure that mutable values haven’t changed.

I should look at generating proper HTML documentation. There is almost certainly something that is the de-facto standard for such a task, I only need to discover it.

But after that… I think I can call it a wrap. I’ll let it sit for a week to make sure that I didn’t forget anything. Maybe read over it once or twice. And then I’ll call it 1.0.0, tag it, and post it to PyPI.

And maybe in another five years I’ll find a reason to pick it up again!