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For 2021 - online Python 3 training - see ((here)).

Our plans were to retire in summer 2020 and see the world, but Coronavirus has lead us into a lot of lockdown programming in Python 3 and PHP 7.
We can now offer tailored online training - small groups, real tutors - works really well for groups of 4 to 14 delegates. Anywhere in the world; course language English.

Please ask about private 'maintenance' training for Python 2, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, etc.
Using an exception to initialise a static variable in a Python function / method

Exceptions are sometimes "sold" as a way of trapping errors - but they're more than that - they're an excellent way of trapping conditions where there isn't a valid result.

"How many people live in this house" you may ask of a function / method call, and the answer may come back as "2" or "5" ... or "0" if the house is unoccupied. But what if the function needs to say "I don't know":

• It could return a separate flag variable ... but that would need to be saved / checked every time and would require great care from the programmer to ensure it was picked up

• It could return a "cardinal value" - a result that's impossible and then have the code check for that value. Again, great care is needed by the programmer, and - worse - if a check for the values is missed by mistake it could result in the cardinal number being added in to a total or stats and letting the program proceed with wrong data

• Or it could throw an exception - and that's a neat way of ensuring, fail-safe, that the programmer making the call will allow for the "no proper result" case each and every time.

In fact ... at times exceptions are so good that they are an elegant solution to what would otherwise be messy coding. Example ...

Let's say that you're writing a Python program that needs a static variable within a function. That's a variable who's value is retained from one call to the next - the sort of thing you would want to do in an iterator where you're asking for the next item in a sequence.

You COULD initialise the variable outside the function - after you have defined the function but before you first call it. But - better - you can catch the NameError exception when you try and reference it the first time, and in the exception handling code you can initialise it.

  try:
    double.copyright += " I tell you!"
  except:
    double.copyright = "Issa MYNE!"


Source code examples - [without exception] and (much better) [using exception]

(written 2010-10-13, updated 2010-10-20)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Y109 - Python - Exceptions
  [381] Exceptions in Python - (2005-07-17)
  [1042] Nested exceptions in Python - (2007-01-18)
  [1236] Trying things in Python - (2007-06-18)
  [2018] UnboundLocalError - Python Message - (2009-01-31)
  [2281] Python - using exceptions to set a fallback - (2009-07-12)
  [2368] Python - fresh examples of all the fundamentals - (2009-08-20)
  [2408] Robust user input (exception handling) example in Python - (2009-09-17)
  [2622] Handling unusual and error conditions - exceptions - (2010-02-03)
  [2994] Python - some common questions answered in code examples - (2010-10-10)
  [3177] Insurance against any errors - Volcanoes and Python - (2011-02-19)
  [3433] Exceptions - a fail-safe way of trapping things that may go wrong - (2011-09-11)
  [3441] Pressing ^C in a Python program. Also Progress Bar. - (2011-09-15)
  [3664] Error checking in a Python program - making your program robust via exceptions - (2012-03-22)
  [3913] How many times ... has this loco headed west through Tenby? - Python exceptions - (2012-11-05)
  [3930] Reporting the full stack trace when you catch a Python exception - (2012-11-22)
  [4029] Exception, Lambda, Generator, Slice, Dict - examples in one Python program - (2013-03-04)
  [4161] Python varables - checking existance, and call by name or by value? - (2013-08-27)
  [4444] Elements of an exception in Python - try, except, else, finally - (2015-02-28)

Y105 - Python - Functions, Modules and Packages
  [96] Variable Scope - (2004-10-22)
  [105] Distance Learning - (2004-10-31)
  [294] Python generator functions, lambdas, and iterators - (2005-04-28)
  [303] Lambdas in Python - (2005-05-06)
  [308] Call by name v call by value - (2005-05-11)
  [340] Code and code maintainance efficiency - (2005-06-08)
  [386] What is a callback? - (2005-07-22)
  [418] Difference between import and from in Python - (2005-08-18)
  [561] Python's Generator functions - (2006-01-11)
  [668] Python - block insets help with documentation - (2006-04-04)
  [745] Python modules. The distribution, The Cheese Shop and the Vaults of Parnassus. - (2006-06-05)
  [749] Cottage industry or production line data handling methods - (2006-06-07)
  [775] Do not duplicate your code - (2006-06-23)
  [821] Dynamic functions and names - Python - (2006-08-03)
  [900] Python - function v method - (2006-10-20)
  [912] Recursion in Python - (2006-11-02)
  [913] Python - A list of methods - (2006-11-03)
  [949] Sludge off the mountain, and Python and PHP - (2006-11-27)
  [959] It's the 1st, not the 1nd 1rd or 1th. - (2006-12-01)
  [1134] Function / method parameters with * and ** in Python - (2007-04-04)
  [1163] A better alternative to cutting and pasting code - (2007-04-26)
  [1202] Returning multiple values from a function (Perl, PHP, Python) - (2007-05-24)
  [1464] Python Script - easy examples of lots of basics - (2007-12-08)
  [1784] Global - Tcl, PHP, Python - (2008-09-03)
  [1790] Sharing variables with functions, but keeping them local too - Python - (2008-09-09)
  [1869] Anonymous functions (lambdas) and map in Python - (2008-11-04)
  [1870] What to do with a huge crop of apples - (2008-11-04)
  [1871] Optional and named parameters in Python - (2008-11-05)
  [1879] Dynamic code - Python - (2008-11-11)
  [2011] Conversion of OSI grid references to Eastings and Northings - (2009-01-28)
  [2439] Multiple returns from a function in Python - (2009-10-06)
  [2440] Optional parameters to Python functions - (2009-10-07)
  [2481] Sample code with errors in it on our web site - (2009-10-29)
  [2506] Good example of recursion in Python - analyse an RSS feed - (2009-11-18)
  [2520] Global and Enable - two misused words! - (2009-11-30)
  [2718] Python - access to variables in the outer scope - (2010-04-12)
  [2766] Optional and named parameters to Python functions/methods - (2010-05-15)
  [2878] Program for reliability and efficiency - do not duplicate, but rather share and re-use - (2010-07-19)
  [2929] Passing a variable number of parameters in to a function / method - (2010-08-20)
  [3159] Returning multiple values from a function call in various languages - a comparison - (2011-02-06)
  [3280] Passing parameters to Python functions - the options you have - (2011-05-07)
  [3459] Catching the fishes first? - (2011-09-27)
  [3464] Passing optional and named parameters to python methods - (2011-10-04)
  [3472] Static variables in functions - and better ways using objects - (2011-10-10)
  [3474] Python Packages - groupings of modules. An introduction - (2011-10-11)
  [3662] Finding all the unique lines in a file, using Python or Perl - (2012-03-20)
  [3695] Functions are first class variables in Lua and Python - (2012-04-13)
  [3766] Python timing - when to use a list, and when to use a generator - (2012-06-16)
  [3852] Static variables in Python? - (2012-08-29)
  [3885] Default local - a good choice by the author of Python - (2012-10-08)
  [3931] Optional positional and named parameters in Python - (2012-11-23)
  [3945] vargs in Python - how to call a method with unknown number of parameters - (2012-12-06)
  [4212] Python functions - an introduction to how they work - (2013-11-16)
  [4361] Multiple yields and no loops in a Python generator? - (2014-12-22)
  [4407] Python - even named code blocks are objects - (2015-01-28)
  [4410] A good example of recursion - a real use in Python - (2015-02-01)
  [4441] Reading command line parameters in Python - (2015-02-23)
  [4448] What is the difference between a function and a method? - (2015-03-04)
  [4645] What are callbacks? Why use them? An example in Python - (2016-02-11)
  [4662] Recursion in Python - the classic example - (2016-03-07)
  [4719] Nesting decorators - (2016-11-02)
  [4722] Embedding more complex code into a named block - (2016-11-04)
  [4724] From and Import in Python - where is the module loaded from? - (2016-11-06)


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A list of special method and attribute names in Python
How will we present courses over the coming years?
Looking forward - the next 3000
2999 - looking back
Using an exception to initialise a static variable in a Python function / method
3D graphics - web site usage - simple matplotlib and python example
Copying - duplicating data, or just adding a name? Perl and Python compared
A river in Melksham is not just for boaters.
Arrays v Lists - what is the difference, why use one or the other
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