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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.
What is a callback?

When you write a program, you're usually providing the filling for a sandwich.

At the top level, you have the operating system and the compiler or interpreter for the particular language you're using and this provides you with the mechanism to start and end your program, and for it to share the resources of your computer with other processes. At the bottom level, you call libraries (functions, subs, methods, procs ...) that are provided with the language to perform all those common tasks that are required in many programs - ranging from outputting results to a file and converting dates through validating that a user's input matches a particular regular expression to testing if one number is greater than another. It's your job as programmer to provide the bit between.

Regular code

Example (in Python). Here's a piece of code that takes the number of staff at four companies and works out how many cricket teams there are (potentially) in each company.


def teams(wot):
return wot/11

def mymap(action,source):
retlist = []
for val in source:
retlist.append(action(val))
return retlist

co_sizes = [27,3,46,129]

cricket = mymap(teams,co_sizes)
print "Number of cricket teams ...",cricket


Python functions / methods called at the bottom level include __div__, __str__, append and print and the results of running the program are:

Number of cricket teams ... [2, 0, 4, 11]

Using a callback

A callback is where a bottom level function (i.e. one that's provided with the language) calls code that you as the programmer provided. In the example above, the main program calls the mymap function, which in turn calls the team function, and both the mymap and the team function were part of the user code. But why? Surely, the running of the same (user) function of every member of a list is a common requirement and the programming language itself should provide the capabilty. And, yes, in Python it does - it's the built in map function ...


def teams(wot):
return wot/11

co_sizes = [27,3,46,129]

soccer = map(teams,co_sizes)

print "Number of soccer teams ...",soccer


Exactly the same calculation as the earlier example but here ...
user code calls the python function map
python function map CALLS BACK to the user code (the function called teams)

Note the code is much shorter and - once you're aware what's going on - much easier.

Common applications of callbacks
1. Mapping functions such as the example above
2. Sort routines, where the langauge provides the sort management and calls back to user provided functions to work out whether one record comes before or after another
3. GUIs (Graphic user interfaces) where actions are defined in functions / procs that the main event handler calls back to.
(written 2005-07-22, updated 2006-06-05)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Y111 - Python - More on Collections and Sequences
  [61] Python is a fabulous language - (2004-09-24)
  [633] Copying a reference, or cloning - (2006-03-05)
  [899] Python - extend v append on a list - (2006-10-20)
  [1304] Last elements in a Perl or Python list - (2007-08-16)
  [1310] Callbacks - a more complex code sandwich - (2007-08-19)
  [1869] Anonymous functions (lambdas) and map in Python - (2008-11-04)
  [1873] List Comprehensions in Python - (2008-11-06)
  [2718] Python - access to variables in the outer scope - (2010-04-12)
  [2894] Sorting people by their names - (2010-07-29)
  [2920] Sorting - naturally, or into a different order - (2010-08-14)
  [2996] Copying - duplicating data, or just adding a name? Perl and Python compared - (2010-10-12)
  [3150] Python dictionaries - mutable and immutable keys and values - (2011-01-29)
  [3348] List slices in Python - 2 and 3 values forms, with an uplifting example - (2011-07-06)
  [3439] Python for loops - applying a temporary second name to the same object - (2011-09-14)
  [3797] zip in Python - (2012-07-05)
  [4398] Accessing variables across subroutine boundaries - Perl, Python, Java and Tcl - (2015-01-18)
  [4442] Mutable v Immuatble objects in Python, and the implication - (2015-02-24)

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)
  [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)
  [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)
  [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)
  [2994] Python - some common questions answered in code examples - (2010-10-10)
  [2998] Using an exception to initialise a static variable in a Python function / method - (2010-10-13)
  [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)
  [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)
  [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)

T224 - Tcl/Tk - Events in Tk
  [1473] Making a variable dynamically visible in a Tcl/Tk GUI - (2007-12-15)
  [3575] Multiple buttons calling the same proc in wish (tcl/tk) - (2012-01-12)
  [4258] Keeping you Tkinter display up to date while monitoring - (2014-04-06)

P211 - Perl - Hashes
  [240] Conventional restraints removed - (2005-03-09)
  [738] (Perl) Callbacks - what are they? - (2006-05-30)
  [930] -> , >= and => in Perl - (2006-11-18)
  [968] Perl - a list or a hash? - (2006-12-06)
  [1334] Stable sorting - Tcl, Perl and others - (2007-09-06)
  [1705] Environment variables in Perl / use Env - (2008-07-11)
  [1826] Perl - Subs, Chop v Chomp, => v , - (2008-10-08)
  [1856] A few of my favourite things - (2008-10-26)
  [1917] Out of memory during array extend - Perl - (2008-12-02)
  [2833] Fresh Perl Teaching Examples - part 2 of 3 - (2010-06-27)
  [2836] Perl - the duplicate key problem explained, and solutions offered - (2010-06-28)
  [2915] Looking up a value by key - associative arrays / Hashes / Dictionaries - (2010-08-11)
  [3042] Least Common Ancestor - what is it, and a Least Common Ancestor algorithm implemented in Perl - (2010-11-11)
  [3072] Finding elements common to many lists / arrays - (2010-11-26)
  [3106] Buckets - (2010-12-26)
  [3400] $ is atomic and % and @ are molecular - Perl - (2011-08-20)
  [3451] Why would you want to use a Perl hash? - (2011-09-20)


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or
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Training course plans for 2006
Some other Articles
Moderating wiki, blog, and forum contributions
Tough Love
BBQ Season
Training course plans for 2006
What is a callback?
Feast or famine
Managing conflict and disappointment
Overloading of operators on standard objects in Python
Central London Courses - Perl, PHP, Python, Tcl, MySQL
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