Reducing import try/except boilerplate

Bengt Richter bokr at
Wed Dec 21 18:48:27 CET 2005

On Thu, 22 Dec 2005 00:44:52 +1000, Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan at> wrote:

>Several standard library modules (e.g., cPickle/pickle, cStringIO/StringIO, 
>threading/dummy_threading) have versions which may not be available on all 
>platforms, and pure Python fallbacks that work on any platform Python 
>supports. Flicking through the latest version of the Python Cookbook, I 
>noticed many recipes that included module fallback suggestions along the lines of:
>   import cPickle as pickle
>except ImportError:
>   import pickle
>   import threading
>except ImportError
>   import dummy_threading as threading
>That seems rather verbose for something that isn't that uncommon ("these 
>module all expose the same API, so just give me one of them in this order of 
>preference"). So what about:
>import cPickle or pickle as pickle
>import threading or dummy_threading as threading
># 'as' clause required since Python can't guess the name the programmer wants
>   from threading or dummy_threading import Thread
>   # No 'as' clause needed since the module name isn't bound
>Insomnia-induced-random-ideas-are-fun-'ly yours,
Yup. Maybe we should have BIOTW (Best Idea Of The Week) nominations.
I'd say this is a candidate.

The grammar for import stuff is messy though. Have you looked to see
how this would work in? And BTW, I suppose 'or' could be an arbitrarily
long shortcutting 'or' expression? I.e.,

    import x or y or z or etc as std_module_name
    from x or y or x or etc import std_module_name

Anyway, +1

Hm, not to muddle your idea with featuritis, but how about allowing
string expressions in the place of names, differentiating between
bare names and bare-name-expressions at the same level as import thus:

    g = 'gname'
    import g as mod   # => mod = __import__('g')
    import (g) as mod # => mod = __import__('gname')

    h = ''
    import g or (h or g) or h as mod # (h or g) is a string expression => 'gname' here

Also, a bare 'and' could make its predecessor term be treated like an ordinary expression (even if
a bare name), allowing bare guard condition expressions, e.g.,

    import cond and name or alternate as mod # <==> import (cond and 'name') or alternate as mod

Bengt Richter

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