typechecks: just say no! (was Re: Determining Types)

Alex Martelli aleax at aleax.it
Mon Sep 3 17:22:13 CEST 2001

"David C. Ullrich" <ullrich at math.okstate.edu> wrote in message
news:3b938f31.2123170 at nntp.sprynet.com...
> But in other places it's good to be able to refer to
> fields with non-literal names, so I add a __getitem__
> so that rec['thisfield'] returns rec.thisfield.
> In yet other places I want to iterate over the fields
> of a record, as in
> for key, value in rec:
> So in __getitem__ I check the type of index, returning
> getattr(self, index) if index is a string and saying
> fieldname=self.__fieldnames__[index]
> return (fieldname, getattr(self, fieldname))
> if index is an integer.
> Seems utterly keen to be able to use them as both
> lists and as mappings, as needed.

Matter of taste (I personally don't much like any
confusion between attributes and items), and in Python
2.2 a far better solution is provided (the for statement
will first attempt to use the __iter__ method -- just
implement *that* one to return the iterator you want,
and note that for a built-in dictionary
    for x in dict
only iterates on KEYS, *not* key-value pairs, so,
take care to avoid any confusion...).  Admittedly,
being able to index a Collection on EITHER item
name or item number IS a typical Visual Basic
feechur, but that still doesn't much recommend it
to my personal taste.  Anyway...:

If I had to implement this in Python 2.1 or earlier,
I'd use either variant of "it's easier to get
forgiveness than permission", which after all IS
the typical idiom to use where the unenlightened
would typetest: i.e., either:

def __getitem__(self, index):
    try: return getattr(self, index)
    except AttributeError:
        return fieldname, getattr(self, fieldname)


def __getitem__(self, index):
    except TypeError:
        return getattr(self, index)
        return fieldname, getattr(self, fieldname)

This would let client-code use any "index" that is
string'ish enough to please getattr, or int'ish
enough to please the [] indexing on __fieldnames
(don't use double leading AND trailing __ for your
own purposes, they're all "reserved to Python"!-).


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