I accept your comment about the tutorial - I wasn't sure about that. Thanks.
However I still feel that there are some aspects of the language which are not in the true spirit of Python (i.e. 'intuitive').
The discussion about default mutable types is one of these. It seems to me that the essential problem is that of assignment in general, which (I believe) creates a reference on the LHS to the object on the RHS, rather than having a copy operation to make the two objects completely separate. That can be confusing in other contexts, not just with default parameters.
If I am to write a 'gotchas' FAQ or whatever then I would like to understand the reasoning behind such design decisions but I can't find any 'deep' explanations at present - just several posts about people being puzzled! A similar comment applies to the lack of type declarations.
So if you or anyone else can explain exactly why such odditties are implemented I would be grateful.
Unfortunately it is almost certainly too late to propose fixes (if appropriate) for such quirks in Python 3 but at least I should be able provide arguments as to why things are done the way they are.
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2011 13:34:15 -0500
From: Ned Batchelder <email@example.com>
To: Richard Prosser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [Python-ideas] Python Isn't Perfect: adding a 'gotchas'
section to the tutorial
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
On 12/10/2011 9:16 AM, Richard Prosser wrote:
> Although I love Python there are some aspects of the language design
> which are disappointing and which can even lead to problems in some cases.
> A classic example is a mutable default argument having the potential
> to produce unexpected side-effects, as a consequence of the
> non-intuitive scoping rules.
> Another awkward 'feature' is the requirement for a trailing comma in
> singleton tuples, due I believe to the use of expression parentheses
> rather than (say) the use of special brackets like chevrons.
> Something that I personally wish for is the ability to declare
> variable types 'up front' but that facility is missing from Python.
One of these things is not like the others. Mutable default arguments,
and singleton tuples are surprises that make sense once you understand
things on a deeper level. It makes sense to call them out as a
"gotcha": a common stumbling block for learners. But "no type
declarations" is not a wart, it's a fundamental feature of the language
that is immediately apparent from the first lesson.