[Python-Dev] Surely "nullable" is a reasonable name?
larry at hastings.org
Mon Aug 4 09:12:47 CEST 2014
Argument Clinic "converters" specify how to convert an individual
argument to the function you're defining. Although a converter could
theoretically represent any sort of conversion, most of the time they
directly represent types like "int" or "double" or "str".
Because there's such variety in argument parsing, the converters are
customizable with parameters. Many of these are common enough that
Argument Clinic suggests some standard names. Examples: "zeroes=True"
for strings and buffers means "permit internal \0 characters", and
"bitwise=True" for unsigned integers means "copy the bits over, even if
there's overflow/underflow, and even if the original is negative".
A third example is "nullable=True", which means "also accept None for
this parameter". This was originally intended for use with strings
(compare the "s" and "z" format units for PyArg_ParseTuple), however it
looks like we'll have a use for "nullable ints" in the ongoing Argument
Clinic conversion work.
Several people have said they found the name "nullable" surprising,
suggesting I use another name like "allow_none" or "noneable". I, in
turn, find their surprise surprising; "nullable" is a term long
associated with exactly this concept. It's used in C# and SQL, and the
term even has its own Wikipedia page:
Most amusingly, Vala *used* to have an annotation called "(allow-none)",
but they've broken it out into two annotations, "(nullable)" and
Before you say "the term 'nullable' will confuse end users", let me
remind you: this is not user-facing. This is a parameter for an
Argument Clinic converter, and will only ever be seen by CPython core
developers. A group which I hope is not so easily confused.
It's my contention that "nullable" is the correct name. But I've been
asked to bring up the topic for discussion, to see if a consensus forms
around this or around some other name.
Let the bike-shedding begin,
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