[Python-3000] Generic function PEP won't make it in time

Phillip J. Eby pje at telecommunity.com
Tue Apr 24 01:13:12 CEST 2007

At 03:16 PM 4/23/2007 -0700, Guido van Rossum wrote:
>On 4/23/07, Phillip J. Eby <pje at telecommunity.com> wrote:
>>Assuming that:
>>1.  If you call such a function, it will raise some error, like 
>That would be up to the author of the function; they would have to
>explicitly raise NotImplementedError in the body. The ABC proposal
>allows meaningful abstract methods that can be called (only) via
>"super"; the use case for this is that the abstract method might be
>the one that decides which exception should be thrown (e.g.
>__getitem__ and __next__ do this), or perhaps it could provide a
>default implementation for certain types. (Potential example of the
>latter: Sequence.__getitem__() could raise IndexError when the
>argument is an Integer but handle the case where the argument is a
>slice instance, assuming there's a suitable factory which could be a
>designated class method.)

Ah...  interesting.  This is different from what I understood to be 
"abstract" methods in other languages where an abstract method is always 
one that does not have an actual implementation.  I guess I skimmed PEP 
3119 a little too quickly.

It sounds like your proposal is to mark methods as "abstract" even if they 
have a useful "null" implementation.  I guess I don't see what this adds, 
at least for the examples in the sandbox, except for making the class 
non-instantiable as a side-effect.

Of course, if @abstract were a class decorator as well as a function 
decorator, then it could have a single meaning in both contexts: "this 
thing shouldn't be callable".

That is to say, this:

    class Iterator(Iterable):

would simply mean calling "Iterator()" would result in a 
NotImplementedError, just like marking a function @abstract means that 
calling it would result in a NotImplementedError.

And, as far as I can see, the only ABC method I'd mark @abstract 
individually would be Hashable.__hash__: everything else here looks to me 
like a perfectly valid "empty" implementation of the method(s) in question.

I suppose there is some value in requiring people to override @abstract 
methods to make a subclass instantiable, versus merely using the lack of an 
@abstract class decorator to indicate that a subclass is concrete.  But I 
wonder if being able to have just one @abstract decorator (that always 
means "you can't call this by default") mightn't be worth giving up that 
tiny bit of extra type checking?

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