Tertiary Operation

Roy Smith roy at panix.com
Tue Oct 17 16:10:19 CEST 2006

In article <1161093117.541719.320210 at i3g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>,
 "abcd" <codecraig at gmail.com> wrote:

> Carsten Haese wrote:
> > Use Python 2.5 where there is a true conditional
> > expression or find another way to solve your problem.
> python 2.5 once we upgrade (hopefully soon), anyways...an earlier post
> suggested the inverse...
> x = None
> result = (x is not None and str(x) or "")
> which works just fine.
> thanks.

Why not just:

if x is None:
   result = str(x)
   result = ""

It's a couple more lines of code, but it's obvious what it means.  I know 
about boolean short-circuit evaluation, and the and/or trick, but I still 
look at

result = (x is not None and str(x) or "")

and have to puzzle through exactly what's going on there.  You are going to 
write your code once.  It's going to be read many many times by different 
people.  It's worth a few more keystrokes on your part to save all those 
future maintenance programmers headaches later.

You won't really understand just how important readability is until you're 
maintaining a million lines of old code, most of it written by people who 
are no longer on the project.  I spend a lot of time staring at code 
somebody else wrote and muttering things like, "What the **** does this 
do?"  That's just money down the toilet.

If I have to reach for a reference manual to look up operator binding rules 
to understand a piece of code, that's bad.  If I have to start making notes 
on a piece of scrap paper, "Let's see, if x is this, then that's true, so 
blah, blah", that's bad.  If I look at something subtle, don't realize it's 
subtle, and come to an incorrect conclusion about what it does, then base 
some other decisions on that incorrect conclusion, that's really, really 

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