Suggestions for good programming practices?

David LeBlanc whisper at
Tue Jun 25 04:18:55 CEST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: python-list-admin at
> [mailto:python-list-admin at]On Behalf Of Chris Liechti
> Sent: Monday, June 24, 2002 17:20
> To: python-list at
> Subject: RE: Suggestions for good programming practices?
> "David LeBlanc" <whisper at> wrote in
> news:mailman.1024957832.5633.python-list at
> > <snip>
> >>
> >> * Avoid exec, execfile, eval, and input.
> >
> > Might one ask why? What do you have to know to use them successfully?
> where does the string you exec come from? from the user: is he a python
> programmer? could he make subtle errors that break your code and
> then blame
> you? could it be somebody that like to play tricks with others and insert
> harmful expression or satements (like os.system('rm -fR * /*')?
> How do you
> handle exceptions, as any exception could be raised by the unknown code
> (hint: 'try: ... except: pass' is bad too...)?
> if you don't want to deal with such problems, avoid exec* and eval. they
> are fine for a throw away script, and they're needed when you embedd a
> python interpreter in your app (for this case there is code.interact and
> even better reexec). for all the other cases they're a risk.
> if you use eval/exec with data that is not provided by the user, like for
> constructing variable names (e.g. eval("name%d"%i)), then it's bad coding
> style. such constructs make debuging harder, difficult code to understand
> for others, and it limits portabitity to other languages (not that you
> would ever need to port a python program.... but sometimes one needs to
> work with other languages to earn money etc...)
> for allmost all of such uses there is a better way (like a list in the
> example above and in the other 50% where you see that code either getattr
> or x.__dict__ is the solution ;-).

I suspect that exec, execfile and eval are useful programmatically for
executing external programs, especially when one is assembling the path/file
oneself. One might even find a use for creating and evaluating code on the

Good points about input though.

> > Does "input" imply that "input-raw" is also to be avoided?
> input(x) is like eval(raw_input(x)). this means that raw_input itself is
> save as it only returns strings. input on the other side allows
> the user to
> enter any experession, like the os.system on from above.
> e.g. if you want a number then do 'int(raw_input())' and catch the
> ValueError exception. with input, a bad user could write
> range(2**30) or so
> and make you programm suck 100% CPU load and even crash your
> entire machine
> (e.g. Linux, Kernel 2.2.x) (and yes the power or reset button will be the
> only thing that works in the later ;-)

More good points about input

> >> * Use local variables whenever possible.  Important in Python because
> >>   local variables are much faster than global.  In practice, this
> >>   means that people will often put their main code in a function, and
> >>   call it with the "if __name__=='__main__': main()" cliche.
> >
> > Does code run at global scope pay a global scope lookup cost?
> >
> > And for large loops in defs that use class instance data, copying the
> > data to a local variable to avoid the lookup cost each time through
> > the loop. (Does copying globals to local also give a speed gain?)
> >
> > class myclass():
> >      def __init__(self):
> >           self.min = 1
> >           self.max = 1000
> >      def loop(self):
> >           min = self.min
> >           max = self.max
> >           for i in range(min,max):
> >                print i
> here the copying to local scope doesn't speed up anything. note that you
> use min and max (which are builtin names by the way) only once.
> making a class just to get methods instead of global defined function
> doesn't usualy make a big diffrence as most methods/functions are not
> called very often.
> >>> def f(x): return x*1.1
> >>> def loopfu():
> ...    	q = f
> ...    	for i in range(10000):
> ...    	    	q()
> making f a local (as q) does give some speedup as the namelookup
> for q will
> be faster than for f and it has to be looked up 10000 times. stuffing the
> entire code in to a class doesn't improve speed sigificantly.

The example was contrived for the purpose of discussion. I'm sure willing to
bet that the numerous (well, several) times I've seen "self" variables
copied into methods where there for performance. Actually, I don't see a
huge difference between your example and mine wrt the idea of making "far"
things "near" to enhance performance. BTW, "min" and "max" are not builtins
in the example - they're instance variables of the class.

I would still be interested in knowing if global code paid a price for
accessing global variables since they're both running in the same scope?

> you can look here for more details, interesting anyway:
> chris
> --
> Chris <cliechti at>

Dave LeBlanc
Seattle, WA USA

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