[Python-Dev] Can Python guarantee the order of keyword-only parameters?
larry at hastings.org
Mon Nov 27 12:05:57 EST 2017
First, a thirty-second refresher, so we're all using the same terminology:
A *parameter* is a declared input variable to a function.
An *argument* is a value passed into a function. (*Arguments* are
stored in *parameters.*)
So in the example "def foo(clonk): pass; foo(3)", clonk is a
parameter, and 3 is an argument. ++
Keyword-only arguments were conceived of as being unordered. They're
stored in a dictionary--by convention called **kwargs--and dictionaries
didn't preserve order. But knowing the order of arguments is
occasionally very useful. PEP 468 proposed that Python preserve the
order of keyword-only arguments in kwargs. This became easy with the
order-preserving dictionaries added to Python 3.6. I don't recall the
order of events, but in the end PEP 468 was accepted, and as of 3.6
Python guarantees order in **kwargs.
But that's arguments. What about parameters?
Although this isn't as directly impactful, the order of keyword-only
parameters *is* visible to the programmer. The best way to see a
function's parameters is with inspect.signature, although there's also
the deprecated inspect.getfullargspec; in CPython you can also directly
examine fn.__code__.co_varnames. Two of these methods present their
data in a way that preserves order for all parameters, including
keyword-only parameters--and the third one is deprecated.
Python must (and does) guarantee the order of positional and
positional-or-keyword parameters, because it uses position to map
arguments to parameters when the function is called. But conceptually
this isn't necessary for keyword-only parameters because their position
is irrelevant. I only see one place in the language & library that
addresses the ordering of keyword-only parameters, by way of omission.
The PEP for inspect.signature (PEP 362) says that when comparing two
signatures for equality, their positional and positional-or-keyword
parameters must be in the same order. It makes a point of *not*
requiring that the two functions' keyword-only parameters be in the same
For every currently supported version of Python 3, inspect.signature and
fn.__code__.co_varnames preserve the order of keyword-only parameters.
This isn't surprising; it's basically the same code path implementing
those as the two types of positional-relevant parameters, so the most
straightforward implementation would naturally preserve their order.
It's just not guaranteed.
I'd like inspect.signature to guarantee that the order of keyword-only
parameters always matches the order they were declared in. Technically
this isn't a language feature, it's a library feature. But making this
guarantee would require that CPython internally cooperate, so it's kind
of a language feature too.
Does this sound reasonable? Would it need a PEP? I'm hoping for "yes"
and "no", respectively.
Three final notes:
* Yes, I do have a use case. I'm using inspect.signature metadata to
mechanically map arguments from an external domain (command-line
arguments) to a Python function. Relying on the declaration order
of keyword-only parameters would elegantly solve one small problem.
* I asked Armin Rigo about PyPy's support for Python 3. He said it
should already maintain the order of keyword-only parameters, and if
I ever catch it not maintaining them in order I should file a bug.
I assert that making this guarantee would be nearly zero effort for
any Python implementation--I bet they all already behave this way,
all they need is a test case and some documentation.
* One can extend this concept to functools.partial and
inspect.Signature.bind: should its transformations of keyword-only
parameters also maintain order in a consistent way? I suspect the
answer there is much the same--there's an obvious way it should
behave, it almost certainly already behaves that way, but it doesn't
guarantee it. I don't think I need this for my use case.
++ Yes, that means "Argument Clinic" should really have been called
"Parameter Clinic". But the "Parameter Clinic" sketch is nowhere near
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Python-Dev