[Python-Dev] Null checking

Tim Peters tim.one@comcast.net
Mon, 10 Jun 2002 09:25:34 -0400

[David Abrahams, on NULL-checking in the source]
> ...
> Second question: I guess I really want to know what the intention behind
> these checks is. Is it something like "prevent extension writers from
> crashing Python in some large percentage of cases", or is there a deeper
> plan that I'm missing?

Different authors have different paranoia levels.  My level is here, for
functions that don't intend to accept NULL arguments:

1. Public API functions should always do explicit NULL checks on
   pointer arguments, and it's the user's fault if they pass a NULL.
   A NULL argument should never crash Python regardless.

2. Private API functions should always assert non-NULL-ness on pointer
   arguments, and it's a bug in Python if a caller passes a NULL.

Any place where the Python code base deviates from those is simply a place I
didn't write <wink>.

> I note that the null_error() check in abstract.c is non-destructive: it
> preserves any existing error, whereas other checks (e.g. in typeobject.c)
> do not.

Different authors.  Guido is omnipotent but not omnipresent <wink>.  It
would be good (IMO) to expose something like null_error in the public API,
to encourage NULL-checking.  I don't know that there's real value in trying
to preserve a pre-existing exception, though (if the code is hosed, it's