Moving from Python 2 to Python 3 calls for a code inventory

June 22, 2016

I was all set to write a blog entry breaking down what sort of Python code we had, how much it was exposed to security issues and other threats, and how much work it would probably be to migrate it to or towards Python 3. I even thought it was going to be a relatively short and simple entry. Then, as I was writing things down, I kept remembering more and more bits of Python code we're using in different contexts, and I'm pretty sure I'm still forgetting some.

So, here's my broad moral for today: if you have Python code, and you're either thinking of migrating at least some of it to Python 3 or considering whether you can ignore the alleged risks of continuing to use Python 2, your first step is (or should be) to get a code inventory. Expect this to probably take a while; you don't want just the big obvious applications, you also care about the little things in the corners.

Perhaps we're unusual, but we don't have our Python code in one or more big applications, where it's easy and obvious to look at things. Instead, we have all sorts of things written in Python, everything from a modest Django application through system management subsystems to little command line things (and not so little ones). These have accumulated over what is almost a decade by now, and if they work quietly we basically forget about them (and most of them do). It's clearly going to take me some work to find them all, categorize them, and probably in some cases discover that they're now unnecessary.

Having written this, I don't know if I'm actually going to do such an inventory any time soon. The problem is that the work is a boring slog and the issue is not particularly urgent, even if we accept a '2020 or earlier' deadline on Python 2 support. Worse, if I do an inventory now and then do nothing with it, it's probably going to get out of date (wasting the work). I'd still like to know, though, if only for my own peace of mind.

Written on 22 June 2016.
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Last modified: Wed Jun 22 00:37:02 2016
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