"no variable or argument declarations are necessary."

Ron Adam rrr at ronadam.com
Wed Oct 5 13:10:58 CEST 2005

Antoon Pardon wrote:
> Op 2005-10-04, Ron Adam schreef <rrr at ronadam.com>:
>>Antoon Pardon wrote:
>>>Op 2005-10-03, Steven D'Aprano schreef <steve at REMOVETHIScyber.com.au>:
>>>>And lo, one multi-billion dollar Mars lander starts braking either too
>>>>early or too late. Result: a new crater on Mars, named after the NASA
>>>>employee who thought the compiler would catch errors.
>>>Using (unit)tests will not guarantee that your programs is error free.
>>>So if sooner or later a (unit)tested program causes a problem, will you
>>>then argue that we should abondon tests, because tests won't catch
>>>all errors.
>>Maybe you need to specify what kind of errors you want to catch. 
>>Different types of errors require different approaches.
> I want to catch all errors of course.

Yes, of course, and so do other programmers.  What I mean is to try and 
break it down into specific instances and then see what the best 
approach is for each one is.

When I first started leaning Python I looked for these features as well, 
but after a while my programming style changed and I don't depend on 
types and names to check my data near as much now.  But instead write 
better organized code and data structures with more explicit value 
checks where I need them.

My concern now is having reusable code and modules I can depend on.  And 
also separating my data and data management operations from the user 
interface.  Having functions and names that don't care what type the 
objects are, makes doing this separation easier.

Another situation where typeless names are useful is routines that 
explicitly check the type, then depending on the type does different 
things.  For example if you have a list with a lot of different type 
objects stored in it, you can sort the contents into sublists by type.

Looking at it from a different direction, how about adding a keyword to 
say,  "from this point on, in this local name space, disallow new 
names".  Then you can do...

def few(x,y):
    a = 'a'
    b = 'b'
    i = j = k = l = None
    # raise an error after here if a new name is used.
    for I in range(10):   <--  error

This is more suitable to Pythons style than declaring types or variables 
I think.  Add to this explicit name-object locking to implement 
constants and I think you would have most of the features you want.


     no_new_names     # limit any new names
     lock_name name   # lock a name to it's current object

Since names are stored in dictionaries,  a dictionary attribute to 
disallow/allow new keys, and a way to set individual elements in a 
dictionary to read only would be needed.  Once you can do that and it 
proves useful, then maybe you can propose it as a language feature.

These might also be checked for in the compile stage and would probably 
be better as it wouldn't cause any slow down in the code or need a new 
dictionary type.

An external checker could possibly work as well if a suitable marker is 
used such as a bare string.

     x = y = z = None
     "No_New_Names"        # checker looks for this
     X = y/z               # and reports this as an error
     return x,y


     Author = "Fred"
     "Name_Lock Author"    # checker sees this...
     Author = "John"       # then checker catches this

So there are a number of ways to possibly add these features.

Finding common use cases where these would make a real difference would 
also help.


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