What’s New In Python 3.4

Author:R. David Murray <rdmurray@bitdance.com> (Editor)

This article explains the new features in Python 3.4, compared to 3.3. Python 3.4 was released on March 16, 2014. For full details, see the changelog.

See also

PEP 429 – Python 3.4 Release Schedule

Summary – Release Highlights

New syntax features:

  • No new syntax features were added in Python 3.4.

Other new features:

New library modules:

Significantly improved library modules:

Security improvements:

CPython implementation improvements:

Please read on for a comprehensive list of user-facing changes, including many other smaller improvements, CPython optimizations, deprecations, and potential porting issues.

New Features

PEP 453: Explicit Bootstrapping of PIP in Python Installations

Bootstrapping pip By Default

The new ensurepip module (defined in PEP 453) provides a standard cross-platform mechanism to bootstrap the pip installer into Python installations and virtual environments. The version of pip included with Python 3.4.0 is pip 1.5.4, and future 3.4.x maintenance releases will update the bundled version to the latest version of pip that is available at the time of creating the release candidate.

By default, the commands pipX and pipX.Y will be installed on all platforms (where X.Y stands for the version of the Python installation), along with the pip Python package and its dependencies. On Windows and in virtual environments on all platforms, the unversioned pip command will also be installed. On other platforms, the system wide unversioned pip command typically refers to the separately installed Python 2 version.

The pyvenv command line utility and the venv module make use of the ensurepip module to make pip readily available in virtual environments. When using the command line utility, pip is installed by default, while when using the venv module API installation of pip must be requested explicitly.

For CPython source builds on POSIX systems, the make install and make altinstall commands bootstrap pip by default. This behaviour can be controlled through configure options, and overridden through Makefile options.

On Windows and Mac OS X, the CPython installers now default to installing pip along with CPython itself (users may opt out of installing it during the installation process). Window users will need to opt in to the automatic PATH modifications to have pip available from the command line by default, otherwise it can still be accessed through the Python launcher for Windows as py -m pip.

As discussed in the PEP, platform packagers may choose not to install these commands by default, as long as, when invoked, they provide clear and simple directions on how to install them on that platform (usually using the system package manager).


To avoid conflicts between parallel Python 2 and Python 3 installations, only the versioned pip3 and pip3.4 commands are bootstrapped by default when ensurepip is invoked directly - the --default-pip option is needed to also request the unversioned pip command. pyvenv and the Windows installer ensure that the unqualified pip command is made available in those environments, and pip can always be invoked via the -m switch rather than directly to avoid ambiguity on systems with multiple Python installations.

Documentation Changes

As part of this change, the Installing Python Modules and Distributing Python Modules sections of the documentation have been completely redesigned as short getting started and FAQ documents. Most packaging documentation has now been moved out to the Python Packaging Authority maintained Python Packaging User Guide and the documentation of the individual projects.

However, as this migration is currently still incomplete, the legacy versions of those guides remaining available as Installing Python Modules (Legacy version) and Distributing Python Modules (Legacy version).

See also

PEP 453 – Explicit bootstrapping of pip in Python installations
PEP written by Donald Stufft and Nick Coghlan, implemented by Donald Stufft, Nick Coghlan, Martin von Löwis and Ned Deily.

PEP 446: Newly Created File Descriptors Are Non-Inheritable

PEP 446 makes newly created file descriptors non-inheritable. In general, this is the behavior an application will want: when launching a new process, having currently open files also open in the new process can lead to all sorts of hard to find bugs, and potentially to security issues.

However, there are occasions when inheritance is desired. To support these cases, the following new functions and methods are available:

See also

PEP 446 – Make newly created file descriptors non-inheritable
PEP written and implemented by Victor Stinner.

Improvements to Codec Handling

Since it was first introduced, the codecs module has always been intended to operate as a type-neutral dynamic encoding and decoding system. However, its close coupling with the Python text model, especially the type restricted convenience methods on the builtin str, bytes and bytearray types, has historically obscured that fact.

As a key step in clarifying the situation, the codecs.encode() and codecs.decode() convenience functions are now properly documented in Python 2.7, 3.3 and 3.4. These functions have existed in the codecs module (and have been covered by the regression test suite) since Python 2.4, but were previously only discoverable through runtime introspection.

Unlike the convenience methods on str, bytes and bytearray, the codecs convenience functions support arbitrary codecs in both Python 2 and Python 3, rather than being limited to Unicode text encodings (in Python 3) or basestring <-> basestring conversions (in Python 2).

In Python 3.4, the interpreter is able to identify the known non-text encodings provided in the standard library and direct users towards these general purpose convenience functions when appropriate:

>>> b"abcdef".decode("hex")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
LookupError: 'hex' is not a text encoding; use codecs.decode() to handle arbitrary codecs

>>> "hello".encode("rot13")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
LookupError: 'rot13' is not a text encoding; use codecs.encode() to handle arbitrary codecs

>>> open("foo.txt", encoding="hex")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
LookupError: 'hex' is not a text encoding; use codecs.open() to handle arbitrary codecs

In a related change, whenever it is feasible without breaking backwards compatibility, exceptions raised during encoding and decoding operations are wrapped in a chained exception of the same type that mentions the name of the codec responsible for producing the error:

>>> import codecs

>>> codecs.decode(b"abcdefgh", "hex")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/lib/python3.4/encodings/hex_codec.py", line 20, in hex_decode
    return (binascii.a2b_hex(input), len(input))
binascii.Error: Non-hexadecimal digit found

The above exception was the direct cause of the following exception:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
binascii.Error: decoding with 'hex' codec failed (Error: Non-hexadecimal digit found)

>>> codecs.encode("hello", "bz2")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/lib/python3.4/encodings/bz2_codec.py", line 17, in bz2_encode
    return (bz2.compress(input), len(input))
  File "/usr/lib/python3.4/bz2.py", line 498, in compress
    return comp.compress(data) + comp.flush()
TypeError: 'str' does not support the buffer interface

The above exception was the direct cause of the following exception:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: encoding with 'bz2' codec failed (TypeError: 'str' does not support the buffer interface)

Finally, as the examples above show, these improvements have permitted the restoration of the convenience aliases for the non-Unicode codecs that were themselves restored in Python 3.2. This means that encoding binary data to and from its hexadecimal representation (for example) can now be written as:

>>> from codecs import encode, decode
>>> encode(b"hello", "hex")
>>> decode(b"68656c6c6f", "hex")

The binary and text transforms provided in the standard library are detailed in Binary Transforms and Text Transforms.

(Contributed by Nick Coghlan in issue 7475, issue 17827, issue 17828 and issue 19619)

PEP 451: A ModuleSpec Type for the Import System

PEP 451 provides an encapsulation of the information about a module that the import machinery will use to load it (that is, a module specification). This helps simplify both the import implementation and several import-related APIs. The change is also a stepping stone for several future import-related improvements.

The public-facing changes from the PEP are entirely backward-compatible. Furthermore, they should be transparent to everyone but importer authors. Key finder and loader methods have been deprecated, but they will continue working. New importers should use the new methods described in the PEP. Existing importers should be updated to implement the new methods. See the Deprecated section for a list of methods that should be replaced and their replacements.

Other Language Changes

Some smaller changes made to the core Python language are:

  • Unicode database updated to UCD version 6.3.
  • min() and max() now accept a default keyword-only argument that can be used to specify the value they return if the iterable they are evaluating has no elements. (Contributed by Julian Berman in issue 18111.)
  • Module objects are now weakref‘able.
  • Module __file__ attributes (and related values) should now always contain absolute paths by default, with the sole exception of __main__.__file__ when a script has been executed directly using a relative path (Contributed by Brett Cannon in issue 18416).
  • All the UTF-* codecs (except UTF-7) now reject surrogates during both encoding and decoding unless the surrogatepass error handler is used, with the exception of the UTF-16 decoder (which accepts valid surrogate pairs) and the UTF-16 encoder (which produces them while encoding non-BMP characters). Contributed by Victor Stinner, Kang-Hao (Kenny) Lu and Serhiy Storchaka in issue 12892.
  • New German EBCDIC codec cp273. (Contributed by Michael Bierenfeld and Andrew Kuchling in issue 1097797.)
  • New Ukrainian codec cp1125. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 19668.)
  • bytes.join() and bytearray.join() now accept arbitrary buffer objects as arguments. (Contributed by Antoine Pitrou in issue 15958.)
  • The int constructor now accepts any object that has an __index__ method for its base argument. (Contributed by Mark Dickinson in issue 16772.)
  • Frame objects now have a clear() method that clears all references to local variables from the frame. (Contributed by Antoine Pitrou in issue 17934.)
  • memoryview is now registered as a Sequence, and supports the reversed() builtin. (Contributed by Nick Coghlan and Claudiu Popa in issue 18690 and issue 19078.)
  • Signatures reported by help() have been modified and improved in several cases as a result of the introduction of Argument Clinic and other changes to the inspect and pydoc modules.
  • __length_hint__() is now part of the formal language specification (see PEP 424). (Contributed by Armin Ronacher in issue 16148.)

New Modules


The new asyncio module (defined in PEP 3156) provides a standard pluggable event loop model for Python, providing solid asynchronous IO support in the standard library, and making it easier for other event loop implementations to interoperate with the standard library and each other.

For Python 3.4, this module is considered a provisional API.

See also

PEP 3156 – Asynchronous IO Support Rebooted: the “asyncio” Module
PEP written and implementation led by Guido van Rossum.


The new ensurepip module is the primary infrastructure for the PEP 453 implementation. In the normal course of events end users will not need to interact with this module, but it can be used to manually bootstrap pip if the automated bootstrapping into an installation or virtual environment was declined.

ensurepip includes a bundled copy of pip, up-to-date as of the first release candidate of the release of CPython with which it ships (this applies to both maintenance releases and feature releases). ensurepip does not access the internet. If the installation has Internet access, after ensurepip is run the bundled pip can be used to upgrade pip to a more recent release than the bundled one. (Note that such an upgraded version of pip is considered to be a separately installed package and will not be removed if Python is uninstalled.)

The module is named ensurepip because if called when pip is already installed, it does nothing. It also has an --upgrade option that will cause it to install the bundled copy of pip if the existing installed version of pip is older than the bundled copy.


The new enum module (defined in PEP 435) provides a standard implementation of enumeration types, allowing other modules (such as socket) to provide more informative error messages and better debugging support by replacing opaque integer constants with backwards compatible enumeration values.

See also

PEP 435 – Adding an Enum type to the Python standard library
PEP written by Barry Warsaw, Eli Bendersky and Ethan Furman, implemented by Ethan Furman.


The new pathlib module offers classes representing filesystem paths with semantics appropriate for different operating systems. Path classes are divided between pure paths, which provide purely computational operations without I/O, and concrete paths, which inherit from pure paths but also provide I/O operations.

For Python 3.4, this module is considered a provisional API.

See also

PEP 428 – The pathlib module – object-oriented filesystem paths
PEP written and implemented by Antoine Pitrou.


The new selectors module (created as part of implementing PEP 3156) allows high-level and efficient I/O multiplexing, built upon the select module primitives.


The new statistics module (defined in PEP 450) offers some core statistics functionality directly in the standard library. This module supports calculation of the mean, median, mode, variance and standard deviation of a data series.

See also

PEP 450 – Adding A Statistics Module To The Standard Library
PEP written and implemented by Steven D’Aprano


The new tracemalloc module (defined in PEP 454) is a debug tool to trace memory blocks allocated by Python. It provides the following information:

  • Trace where an object was allocated
  • Statistics on allocated memory blocks per filename and per line number: total size, number and average size of allocated memory blocks
  • Compute the differences between two snapshots to detect memory leaks

See also

PEP 454 – Add a new tracemalloc module to trace Python memory allocations
PEP written and implemented by Victor Stinner

Improved Modules


New function abc.get_cache_token() can be used to know when to invalidate caches that are affected by changes in the object graph. (Contributed by Łukasz Langa in issue 16832.)

New class ABC has ABCMeta as its meta class. Using ABC as a base class has essentially the same effect as specifying metaclass=abc.ABCMeta, but is simpler to type and easier to read. (Contributed by Bruno Dupuis in issue 16049.)


The getparams() method now returns a namedtuple rather than a plain tuple. (Contributed by Claudiu Popa in issue 17818.)

aifc.open() now supports the context manager protocol: when used in a with block, the close() method of the returned object will be called automatically at the end of the block. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchacha in issue 16486.)

The writeframesraw() and writeframes() methods now accept any bytes-like object. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 8311.)


The FileType class now accepts encoding and errors arguments, which are passed through to open(). (Contributed by Lucas Maystre in issue 11175.)


audioop now supports 24-bit samples. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 12866.)

New byteswap() function converts big-endian samples to little-endian and vice versa (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 19641).

All audioop functions now accept any bytes-like object. Strings are not accepted: they didn’t work before, now they raise an error right away. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 16685.)


The encoding and decoding functions in base64 now accept any bytes-like object in cases where it previously required a bytes or bytearray instance. (Contributed by Nick Coghlan in issue 17839.)

New functions a85encode(), a85decode(), b85encode(), and b85decode() provide the ability to encode and decode binary data from and to Ascii85 and the git/mercurial Base85 formats, respectively. The a85 functions have options that can be used to make them compatible with the variants of the Ascii85 encoding, including the Adobe variant. (Contributed by Martin Morrison, the Mercurial project, Serhiy Storchaka, and Antoine Pitrou in issue 17618.)


The ChainMap.new_child() method now accepts an m argument specifying the child map to add to the chain. This allows an existing mapping and/or a custom mapping type to be used for the child. (Contributed by Vinay Sajip in issue 16613.)


The number of digits in the coefficients for the RGB — YIQ conversions have been expanded so that they match the FCC NTSC versions. The change in results should be less than 1% and may better match results found elsewhere. (Contributed by Brian Landers and Serhiy Storchaka in issue 14323.)


The new contextlib.suppress context manager helps to clarify the intent of code that deliberately suppresses exceptions from a single statement. (Contributed by Raymond Hettinger in issue 15806 and Zero Piraeus in issue 19266)

The new contextlib.redirect_stdout() context manager makes it easier for utility scripts to handle inflexible APIs that write their output to sys.stdout and don’t provide any options to redirect it. Using the context manager, the sys.stdout output can be redirected to any other stream or, in conjunction with io.StringIO, to a string. The latter can be especially useful, for example, to capture output from a function that was written to implement a command line interface. It is recommended only for utility scripts because it affects the global state of sys.stdout. (Contributed by Raymond Hettinger in issue 15805)

The contextlib documentation has also been updated to include a discussion of the differences between single use, reusable and reentrant context managers.


dbm.open() objects now support the context management protocol. When used in a with statement, the close method of the database object will be called automatically at the end of the block. (Contributed by Claudiu Popa and Nick Coghlan in issue 19282.)


Functions show_code(), dis(), distb(), and disassemble() now accept a keyword-only file argument that controls where they write their output.

The dis module is now built around an Instruction class that provides object oriented access to the details of each individual bytecode operation.

A new method, get_instructions(), provides an iterator that emits the Instruction stream for a given piece of Python code. Thus it is now possible to write a program that inspects and manipulates a bytecode object in ways different from those provided by the dis module itself. For example:

>>> import dis
>>> for instr in dis.get_instructions(lambda x: x + 1):
...     print(instr.opname)

The various display tools in the dis module have been rewritten to use these new components.

In addition, a new application-friendly class Bytecode provides an object-oriented API for inspecting bytecode in both in human-readable form and for iterating over instructions. The Bytecode constructor takes the same arguments that get_instruction() does (plus an optional current_offset), and the resulting object can be iterated to produce Instruction objects. But it also has a dis method, equivalent to calling dis on the constructor argument, but returned as a multi-line string:

>>> bytecode = dis.Bytecode(lambda x: x +1, current_offset=3)
>>> for instr in bytecode:
...     print('{} ({})'.format(instr.opname, instr.opcode))
>>> bytecode.dis().splitlines()       
['  1           0 LOAD_FAST                0 (x)',
 '      -->     3 LOAD_CONST               1 (1)',
 '              6 BINARY_ADD',
 '              7 RETURN_VALUE']

Bytecode also has a class method, from_traceback(), that provides the ability to manipulate a traceback (that is, print(Bytecode.from_traceback(tb).dis()) is equivalent to distb(tb)).

(Contributed by Nick Coghlan, Ryan Kelly and Thomas Kluyver in issue 11816 and Claudiu Popa in issue 17916)

New function stack_effect() computes the effect on the Python stack of a given opcode and argument, information that is not otherwise available. (Contributed by Larry Hastings in issue 19722.)


A new option flag, FAIL_FAST, halts test running as soon as the first failure is detected. (Contributed by R. David Murray and Daniel Urban in issue 16522.)

The doctest command line interface now uses argparse, and has two new options, -o and -f. -o allows doctest options to be specified on the command line, and -f is a shorthand for -o FAIL_FAST (to parallel the similar option supported by the unittest CLI). (Contributed by R. David Murray in issue 11390.)

doctest will now find doctests in extension module __doc__ strings. (Contributed by Zachary Ware in issue 3158.)


as_string() now accepts a policy argument to override the default policy of the message when generating a string representation of it. This means that as_string can now be used in more circumstances, instead of having to create and use a generator in order to pass formatting parameters to its flatten method. (Contributed by R. David Murray in issue 18600.)

New method as_bytes() added to produce a bytes representation of the message in a fashion similar to how as_string produces a string representation. It does not accept the maxheaderlen argument, but does accept the unixfrom and policy arguments. The Message __bytes__() method calls it, meaning that bytes(mymsg) will now produce the intuitive result: a bytes object containing the fully formatted message. (Contributed by R. David Murray in issue 18600.)

The Message.set_param() message now accepts a replace keyword argument. When specified, the associated header will be updated without changing its location in the list of headers. For backward compatibility, the default is False. (Contributed by R. David Murray in issue 18891.)

A pair of new subclasses of Message have been added (EmailMessage and MIMEPart), along with a new sub-module, contentmanager and a new policy attribute content_manager. All documentation is currently in the new module, which is being added as part of email’s new provisional API. These classes provide a number of new methods that make extracting content from and inserting content into email messages much easier. For details, see the contentmanager documentation and the Examples using the Provisional API. These API additions complete the bulk of the work that was planned as part of the email6 project. The currently provisional API is scheduled to become final in Python 3.5 (possibly with a few minor additions in the area of error handling). (Contributed by R. David Murray in issue 18891.)


A new clear_cache() function provides the ability to clear the filecmp comparison cache, which uses os.stat() information to determine if the file has changed since the last compare. This can be used, for example, if the file might have been changed and re-checked in less time than the resolution of a particular filesystem’s file modification time field. (Contributed by Mark Levitt in issue 18149.)

New module attribute DEFAULT_IGNORES provides the list of directories that are used as the default value for the ignore parameter of the dircmp() function. (Contributed by Eli Bendersky in issue 15442.)


The new partialmethod() descriptor brings partial argument application to descriptors, just as partial() provides for normal callables. The new descriptor also makes it easier to get arbitrary callables (including partial() instances) to behave like normal instance methods when included in a class definition. (Contributed by Alon Horev and Nick Coghlan in issue 4331)

The new singledispatch() decorator brings support for single-dispatch generic functions to the Python standard library. Where object oriented programming focuses on grouping multiple operations on a common set of data into a class, a generic function focuses on grouping multiple implementations of an operation that allows it to work with different kinds of data.

See also

PEP 443 – Single-dispatch generic functions
PEP written and implemented by Łukasz Langa.

total_ordering() now supports a return value of NotImplemented from the underlying comparison function. (Contributed by Katie Miller in issue 10042.)

A pure-python version of the partial() function is now in the stdlib; in CPython it is overridden by the C accelerated version, but it is available for other implementations to use. (Contributed by Brian Thorne in issue 12428.)


New function get_stats() returns a list of three per-generation dictionaries containing the collections statistics since interpreter startup. (Contributed by Antoine Pitrou in issue 16351.)


A new function escape() provides a way to escape special characters in a filename so that they do not become part of the globbing expansion but are instead matched literally. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 8402.)


A new hashlib.pbkdf2_hmac() function provides the PKCS#5 password-based key derivation function 2. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18582)

The name attribute of hashlib hash objects is now a formally supported interface. It has always existed in CPython’s hashlib (although it did not return lower case names for all supported hashes), but it was not a public interface and so some other Python implementations have not previously supported it. (Contributed by Jason R. Coombs in issue 18532.)


hmac now accepts bytearray as well as bytes for the key argument to the new() function, and the msg parameter to both the new() function and the update() method now accepts any type supported by the hashlib module. (Contributed by Jonas Borgström in issue 18240.)

The digestmod argument to the hmac.new() function may now be any hash digest name recognized by hashlib. In addition, the current behavior in which the value of digestmod defaults to MD5 is deprecated: in a future version of Python there will be no default value. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 17276.)

With the addition of block_size and name attributes (and the formal documentation of the digest_size attribute), the hmac module now conforms fully to the PEP 247 API. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18775.)


New function unescape() function converts HTML5 character references to the corresponding Unicode characters. (Contributed by Ezio Melotti in issue 2927)

HTMLParser accepts a new keyword argument convert_charrefs that, when True, automatically converts all character references. For backward-compatibility, its value defaults to False, but it will change to True in a future version of Python, so you are invited to set it explicitly and update your code to use this new feature. (Contributed by Ezio Melotti in issue 13633)

The strict argument of HTMLParser is now deprecated. (Contributed by Ezio Melotti in issue 15114)


send_error() now accepts an optional additional explain parameter which can be used to provide an extended error description, overriding the hardcoded default if there is one. This extended error description will be formatted using the error_message_format attribute and sent as the body of the error response. (Contributed by Karl Cow in issue 12921.)

The http.server command line interface now has a -b/--bind option that causes the server to listen on a specific address. (Contributed by Malte Swart in issue 17764.)


The InspectLoader ABC defines a new method, source_to_code() that accepts source data and a path and returns a code object. The default implementation is equivalent to compile(data, path, 'exec', dont_inherit=True). (Contributed by Eric Snow and Brett Cannon in issue 15627.)

InspectLoader also now has a default implementation for the get_code() method. However, it will normally be desirable to override the default implementation for performance reasons. (Contributed by Brett Cannon in issue 18072.)

The reload() function has been moved from imp to importlib as part of the imp module deprecation. (Contributed by Berker Peksag in issue 18193.)

importlib.util now has a MAGIC_NUMBER attribute providing access to the bytecode version number. This replaces the get_magic() function in the deprecated imp module. (Contributed by Brett Cannon in issue 18192.)

New importlib.util functions cache_from_source() and source_from_cache() replace the same-named functions in the deprecated imp module. (Contributed by Brett Cannon in issue 18194.)

The importlib bootstrap NamespaceLoader now conforms to the InspectLoader ABC, which means that runpy and python -m can now be used with namespace packages. (Contributed by Brett Cannon in issue 18058.)

importlib.util has a new function decode_source() that decodes source from bytes using universal newline processing. This is useful for implementing InspectLoader.get_source() methods.

importlib.machinery.ExtensionFileLoader now has a get_filename() method. This was inadvertently omitted in the original implementation. (Contributed by Eric Snow in issue 19152.)


The inspect module now offers a basic command line interface to quickly display source code and other information for modules, classes and functions. (Contributed by Claudiu Popa and Nick Coghlan in issue 18626)

unwrap() makes it easy to unravel wrapper function chains created by functools.wraps() (and any other API that sets the __wrapped__ attribute on a wrapper function). (Contributed by Daniel Urban, Aaron Iles and Nick Coghlan in issue 13266)

As part of the implementation of the new enum module, the inspect module now has substantially better support for custom __dir__ methods and dynamic class attributes provided through metaclasses (Contributed by Ethan Furman in issue 18929 and issue 19030)

getfullargspec() and getargspec() now use the signature() API. This allows them to support a much broader range of callables, including those with __signature__ attributes, those with metadata provided by argument clinic, functools.partial() objects and more. Note that, unlike signature(), these functions still ignore __wrapped__ attributes, and report the already bound first argument for bound methods, so it is still necessary to update your code to use signature() directly if those features are desired. (Contributed by Yury Selivanov in issue 17481)

signature() now supports duck types of CPython functions, which adds support for functions compiled with Cython. (Contributed by Stefan Behnel and Yury Selivanov in issue 17159)


ipaddress was added to the standard library in Python 3.3 as a provisional API. With the release of Python 3.4, this qualification has been removed: ipaddress is now considered a stable API, covered by the normal standard library requirements to maintain backwards compatibility.

A new is_global property is True if an address is globally routeable. (Contributed by Peter Moody in issue 17400.)


The TimedRotatingFileHandler has a new atTime parameter that can be used to specify the time of day when rollover should happen. (Contributed by Ronald Oussoren in issue 9556.)

SocketHandler and DatagramHandler now support Unix domain sockets (by setting port to None). (Contributed by Vinay Sajip in commit ce46195b56a9.)

fileConfig() now accepts a configparser.RawConfigParser subclass instance for the fname parameter. This facilitates using a configuration file when logging configuration is just a part of the overall application configuration, or where the application modifies the configuration before passing it to fileConfig(). (Contributed by Vinay Sajip in issue 16110.)

Logging configuration data received from a socket via the logging.config.listen() function can now be validated before being processed by supplying a verification function as the argument to the new verify keyword argument. (Contributed by Vinay Sajip in issue 15452.)


The default marshal version has been bumped to 3. The code implementing the new version restores the Python2 behavior of recording only one copy of interned strings and preserving the interning on deserialization, and extends this “one copy” ability to any object type (including handling recursive references). This reduces both the size of .pyc files and the amount of memory a module occupies in memory when it is loaded from a .pyc (or .pyo) file. (Contributed by Kristján Valur Jónsson in issue 16475, with additional speedups by Antoine Pitrou in issue 19219.)


mmap objects can now be weakrefed. (Contributed by Valerie Lambert in issue 4885.)


On Unix two new start methods, (spawn and forkserver, have been added for starting processes using multiprocessing. These make the mixing of processes with threads more robust, and the spawn method matches the semantics that multiprocessing has always used on Windows. New function get_all_start_methods() reports all start methods available on the platform, get_start_method() reports the current start method, and set_start_method() sets the start method. (Contributed by Richard Oudkerk in issue 8713).

multiprocessing also now has the concept of a context, which determines how child processes are created. New function get_context() returns a context that uses a specified start method. It has the same API as the multiprocessing module itself, so you can use it to create Pools and other objects that will operate within that context. This allows a framework and an application or different parts of the same application to use multiprocessing without interfering with each other. (Contributed by Richard Oudkerk in issue 18999.)

Except when using the old fork start method, child processes no longer inherit unneeded handles/file descriptors from their parents (part of issue 8713).

multiprocessing now relies on runpy (which implements the -m switch) to initialise __main__ appropriately in child processes when using the spawn or forkserver start methods. This resolves some edge cases where combining multiprocessing, the -m command line switch, and explicit relative imports could cause obscure failures in child processes. (Contributed by Nick Coghlan in issue 19946)


New function length_hint() provides an implementation of the specification for how the __length_hint__() special method should be used, as part of the PEP 424 formal specification of this language feature. (Contributed by Armin Ronacher in issue 16148.)

There is now a pure-python version of the operator module available for reference and for use by alternate implementations of Python. (Contributed by Zachary Ware in issue 16694.)


There are new functions to get and set the inheritable flag of a file descriptor (os.get_inheritable(), os.set_inheritable()) or a Windows handle (os.get_handle_inheritable(), os.set_handle_inheritable()).

New function cpu_count() reports the number of CPUs available on the platform on which Python is running (or None if the count can’t be determined). The multiprocessing.cpu_count() function is now implemented in terms of this function). (Contributed by Trent Nelson, Yogesh Chaudhari, Victor Stinner, and Charles-François Natali in issue 17914.)

os.path.samestat() is now available on the Windows platform (and the os.path.samefile() implementation is now shared between Unix and Windows). (Contributed by Brian Curtin in issue 11939.)

os.path.ismount() now recognizes volumes mounted below a drive root on Windows. (Contributed by Tim Golden in issue 9035.)

os.open() supports two new flags on platforms that provide them, O_PATH (un-opened file descriptor), and O_TMPFILE (unnamed temporary file; as of 3.4.0 release available only on Linux systems with a kernel version of 3.11 or newer that have uapi headers). (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18673 and Benjamin Peterson, respectively.)


pdb has been enhanced to handle generators, yield, and yield from in a more useful fashion. This is especially helpful when debugging asyncio based programs. (Contributed by Andrew Svetlov and Xavier de Gaye in issue 16596.)

The print command has been removed from pdb, restoring access to the Python print() function from the pdb command line. Python2’s pdb did not have a print command; instead, entering print executed the print statement. In Python3 print was mistakenly made an alias for the pdb p command. p, however, prints the repr of its argument, not the str like the Python2 print command did. Worse, the Python3 pdb print command shadowed the Python3 print function, making it inaccessible at the pdb prompt. (Contributed by Connor Osborn in issue 18764.)


pickle now supports (but does not use by default) a new pickle protocol, protocol 4. This new protocol addresses a number of issues that were present in previous protocols, such as the serialization of nested classes, very large strings and containers, and classes whose __new__() method takes keyword-only arguments. It also provides some efficiency improvements.

See also

PEP 3154 – Pickle protocol 4
PEP written by Antoine Pitrou and implemented by Alexandre Vassalotti.


plistlib now has an API that is similar to the standard pattern for stdlib serialization protocols, with new load(), dump(), loads(), and dumps() functions. (The older API is now deprecated.) In addition to the already supported XML plist format (FMT_XML), it also now supports the binary plist format (FMT_BINARY). (Contributed by Ronald Oussoren and others in issue 14455).


Two new methods have been added to poplib: capa(), which returns the list of capabilities advertised by the POP server, and stls(), which switches a clear-text POP3 session into an encrypted POP3 session if the POP server supports it. (Contributed by Lorenzo Catucci in issue 4473.)


The pprint module’s PrettyPrinter class and its pformat(), and pprint() functions have a new option, compact, that controls how the output is formatted. Currently setting compact to True means that sequences will be printed with as many sequence elements as will fit within width on each (indented) line. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 19132.)

Long strings are now wrapped using Python’s normal line continuation syntax. (Contributed by Antoine Pitrou in issue 17150).


pty.spawn() now returns the status value from os.waitpid() on the child process, instead of None. (Contributed by Gregory P. Smith.)


The pydoc module is now based directly on the inspect.signature() introspection API, allowing it to provide signature information for a wider variety of callable objects. This change also means that __wrapped__ attributes are now taken into account when displaying help information (Contributed by Larry Hastings in issue 19674)

The pydoc module no longer displays the self parameter for already bound methods. Instead, it aims to always display the exact current signature of the supplied callable (Contributed by Larry Hastings in issue 20710)

In addition to the changes that have been made to pydoc directly, its handling of custom __dir__ methods and various descriptor behaviours has also been improved substantially by the underlying changes in the inspect module.

As the help() builtin is based on pydoc, the above changes also affect the behaviour of help().


New fullmatch() function and regex.fullmatch() method anchor the pattern at both ends of the string to match. This provides a way to be explicit about the goal of the match, which avoids a class of subtle bugs where $ characters get lost during code changes or the addition of alternatives to an existing regular expression. (Contributed by Matthew Barnett in issue 16203.)

The repr of regex objects now includes the pattern and the flags; the repr of match objects now includes the start, end, and the part of the string that matched. (Contributed by Hugo Lopes Tavares and Serhiy Storchaka in issue 13592 and issue 17087.)


New prlimit() function, available on Linux platforms with a kernel version of 2.6.36 or later and glibc of 2.13 or later, provides the ability to query or set the resource limits for processes other than the one making the call. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 16595.)

On Linux kernel version 2.6.36 or later, there are there are also some new Linux specific constants: RLIMIT_MSGQUEUE, RLIMIT_NICE, RLIMIT_RTPRIO, RLIMIT_RTTIME, and RLIMIT_SIGPENDING. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 19324.)

On FreeBSD version 9 and later, there some new FreeBSD specific constants: RLIMIT_SBSIZE, RLIMIT_SWAP, and RLIMIT_NPTS. (Contributed by Claudiu Popa in issue 19343.)


epoll objects now support the context management protocol. When used in a with statement, the close() method will be called automatically at the end of the block. (Contributed by Serhiy Storchaka in issue 16488.)

devpoll objects now have fileno() and close() methods, as well as a new attribute closed. (Contributed by Victor Stinner in issue 18794.)


Shelf instances may now be used in with statements, and will be automatically closed at the end of the with block. (Contributed by Filip Gruszczyński in issue 13896.)


copyfile() now raises a specific Error subclass, SameFileError, when the source and destination are the same file, which allows an application to take appropriate action on this specific error. (Contributed by Atsuo Ishimoto and Hynek Schlawack in issue 1492704.)


The SMTPServer and SMTPChannel classes now accept a map keyword argument which, if specified, is passed in to asynchat.async_chat as its map argument. This allows an application to avoid affecting the global socket map. (Contributed by Vinay Sajip in issue 11959.)


SMTPException is now a subclass of OSError, which allows both socket level errors and SMTP protocol level errors to be caught in one try/except statement by code that only cares whether or not an error occurred. (Contributed by Ned Jackson Lovely in issue 2118).


The socket module now supports the CAN_BCM protocol on platforms that support it. (Contributed by Brian Thorne in issue 15359.)

Socket objects have new methods to get or set their inheritable flag, get_inheritable() and set_inheritable().

The socket.AF_* and socket.SOCK_* constants are now enumeration values using the new enum module. This allows meaningful names to be printed during debugging, instead of integer “magic numbers”.

The AF_LINK constant is now available on BSD and OSX.

inet_pton() and inet_ntop() are now supported on Windows. (Contributed by Atsuo Ishimoto in issue 7171.)


A new boolean parameter to the connect() function, uri, can be used to indicate that the database parameter is a uri (see the SQLite URI documentation). (Contributed by poq in issue 13773.)


PROTOCOL_TLSv1_1 and PROTOCOL_TLSv1_2 (TLSv1.1 and TLSv1.2 support) have been added; support for these protocols is only available if Python is linked with OpenSSL 1.0.1 or later. (Contributed by Michele Orrù and Antoine Pitrou in issue 16692)

New function create_default_context() provides a standard way to obtain an SSLContext whose settings are intended to be a reasonable balance between compatibility and security. These settings are more stringent than the defaults provided by the SSLContext constructor, and may be adjusted in the future, without prior deprecation, if best-practice security requirements change. The new recommended best practice for using stdlib libraries that support SSL is to use create_default_context() to obtain an SSLContext object, modify it if needed, and then pass it as the context argument of the appropriate stdlib API. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 19689.)

SSLContext method load_verify_locations() accepts a new optional argument cadata, which can be used to provide PEM or DER encoded certificates directly via strings or bytes, respectively. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18138.)

New function get_default_verify_paths() returns a named tuple of the paths and environment variables that the set_default_verify_paths() method uses to set OpenSSL’s default cafile and capath. This can be an aid in debugging default verification issues. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18143.)

SSLContext has a new method, cert_store_stats(), that reports the number of loaded X.509 certs, X.509 CA certs, and certificate revocation lists (crls), as well as a get_ca_certs() method that returns a list of the loaded CA certificates. (Contributed by Christian Heimes in issue 18147.)

If OpenSSL 0.9.8 or later is available, SSLContext has an new attribute verify_flags that can be used to control the certificate verification process by setting it to some combination of the new constants VERIFY_DEFAULT, VERIFY_CRL_CHECK_LEAF, VERIFY_CRL_CHECK_CHAIN, or VERIFY_X509_STRICT. OpenSSL does not do any CRL verification by default. (Contributed by Christien Heimes in issue 8813.)

New SSLContext method