[Baypiggies] Discussion for newbies/beginner night talks

Chad Netzer chad.netzer at gmail.com
Fri Feb 9 23:30:02 CET 2007

First, I want to thank Dennis and Drew for speaking last night, and
Jim Stockford for hosting the post talk discussion.

I've created this thread to start discussion about the "newbie" night
that was talked about at the end of last night's meeting. If people
reply to this thread only (or mostly), those on the list who aren't
interested can easily ignore it.  If we are to host a beginners night,
it will be best to start organizing it soon, in order to line up
topics, speakers, make timely announcements, etc.

One person at the meeting asked about Python "idioms", and in fact in
a previous email I brought up the idea of an "anti-idioms"
presentation. I'll get the ball rolling with a few idioms and tips
that I can think of, without explanation.  If people are interested in
the why, or wish to add some, please reply and discuss.  Perhaps it
could evolve into a good QA topic for beginners.

Also, if people have other ideas or suggestions for a beginners night,
please feel free to discuss them here.

Some Python beginner tips and idioms:

1) Do not use lists, dicts, or any mutable object as default
arguments; use None instead.

2) If you need to do a lot of string appends, use lists and join().

3) Understand and use iterators in loops.

4) Use dictionaries, sets, and other mappings for searches and

5) Understand and use the decorate/sort/undecorate (DSU) idiom.

6) Catch exceptions that you can handle, don't suppress ones you

7) Ask forgiveness, not permission. Ie. perform conversions and
other operations using "try". Avoid queries to determine if an
operation will succeed.

8) Use assert() to document your code.

9) Don't overuse tuples as "read only" lists.  Use them to make
dictionary keys, or pass around short lived groups of objects.

10) Use open() to open files, not file(). (trivial, perhaps)


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