Reversing a string

Martin Durkin nospam at
Mon Jul 2 06:38:17 CEST 2007

aleax at (Alex Martelli) wrote in
news:1i0kjpx.wjw44j15np22dN%aleax at 

> Martin Durkin <nospam at> wrote:
>    ...
>> >>>>>> def rev(x):
>> >>>             mylist = []
>> >>>             for char in x:
>> >>>                  mylist.append(char)
>> >>>             mylist.reverse()
>> >>>             for letter in mylist:
>> >>>                  print letter
>> >>> 
>> >>> However, compare the incredible difference in clarity and
>> >>> elegance between that and:
>> >>> 
>> >>>> >>> print "\n".join("spam"[::-1])
>    ...
>> >> OK, maybe I'm missing the point here as I'm new to Python. The
>> >> first one seems clearer to me. What am I missing?
>> >> 
>> > I think all you are missing is familarity with Python, but I too
>> > don't like one-liners simply for their own sake.
>> I guess that's it. The first one reads more like a textbook example
>> which is about where I am at. Is there any speed benefit from the one
>> liner? 
> The first example reads "excruciatingly low-level" to me: its autor is
> thinking in terms of what the machine is doing, mapped into pretty
> elementary low-level constructs.
sorry you've lost me there.

> So, something like:
> for c in reversed(x): print c
> is mostly likely how I'd present the solution to the task. 

This is an interesting point to me. I am just learning Python and I 
wonder how I would know that a built in function already exists? 
At what point do I stop searching for a ready made solution to a 
particular problem and start programming my own function?
Is it just a matter of reading *all* the documentation before I start 

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