The Python Software Foundation today released version 2.6 of the popular language, a release that lays the groundwork for the language-changing Python 3.0 release.

“The major theme of Python 2.6 is preparing the migration path to Python 3.0, a major redesign of the language,” wrote Andrew Kuchling, former director of the Python Software Foundation, in the “What’s New in Python 2.6” guide.

Python 2.6 remains compatible with existing 2.x code while incorporating new features and syntax from 3.0, as well as adding compatibility functions into a future_builtins module.

New packages such as multi-processing and json modules have been added to the standard Python library, as well as bug fixing and other improvements.

In Python 3.0, the print statement becomes the print() function, in Python 2.6 it is possible to use the function by using a __future__ import.

from __future__ import print_function
print('# of entries', len(dictionary), file=sys.stderr)

For full details of all the new features, visit Kuchling’s “What’s New in Python 2.6” guide.

Python 2.6 can be downloaded from the Python website.