Friday, May 08, 2015

PSF funds development: Armin Rigo's CFFI 1.0

In looking back over the PSF newsblog posts, it appears that most of the PSF funded projects I’ve written about were conferences, workshops, and education/outreach efforts. These are, of course, truly important. However, it’s also important to get the word out about several development projects that the PSF has sponsored in 2015. One such project is Armin Rigo’s work on CFFI 1.0. 
RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation grant Armin Rigo $2500 towards cffi development aimed at making cffi generated extension modules importable without runtime dependencies on an extension module build toolchain.
CFFI or C Foreign Function Interface for Python provides a way to call compiled C code, i.e., external C libraries, from Python using interface declarations written in C. This eliminates the need to use a programming language other than C and Python. At the same time, CFFI minimizes the amount of C code that needs to be written, so it really is a boon for Python developers. It works with Python 2.6 and up and with PyPy 2x and 3x. See CFFI Documentation.
CFFI has already had approximately 7 million downloads, so it is clearly of use, but its creator, Armin Rigo (who is also one of the creators of PyPy) saw room for improvement. Specifically, according to Armin, there were two main problems:
  1. The difficulties of installation [which] can be seen from outside by looking at various workarounds and 3rd-party documentation that have grown into existence. For example, the of projects like cryptography, PyNaCl and bcrypt deploys workarounds that are explicitly documented in
  2. The time taken at import is excessive in some cases. For example, importing pygame-cffi on a Raspberry Pi ARM board takes on the order of 10 to 20 seconds (and this is the fast case where the compiler doesn’t need to be invoked any more)
Due to the PSF grant, Armin was able to fix both problems. The 1.0 version, now in beta, is available at CFFI 1.0.
Our thanks to the amazing Armin Rigo for this very welcome tool!
Stay tuned for my next post about the PSF’s recent award of $8,000 USD for Read the Docs
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