Guido's new method definition idea

acerimusdux acerimusdux at comcast.net
Sun Dec 7 08:49:27 CET 2008


Russ P. wrote:
> Python already uses shorthand extensively. How about "def"? For people
> who are so worried about self-explanatory symbols, what the heck does
> that stand for? Default? Defeat? Defect? Defunct? Defer?
>
>
>   

I think the difference here is that those other  abbreviations are 
mostly fairly standard. The "def" keyword is the same in Ruby, and 
similar enough to "define" or "defun" in Scheme or LISP. The "!=" 
operator is pretty much standard across nearly all languages. What is 
being proposed with "$" here though, would be different from how it is 
used anywhere else and would be confusing.

Moreover, I especially don't like proposing to eliminate as well in this 
instance the "dot notation", which is standard in nearly all object 
oriented languages. Using something as a substitute for "self" is one 
thing, and you can mostly use what you like there now, as "self" is more 
a convention than a requirement.  But the "dot" that belongs there is 
critical to understanding, you can't hide that to save one keystroke.

Getting back to Guido's suggestion, though, I think it makes some sense. 
Being new to Python, I did find myself occasionally forgetting "self" in 
instance methods. But, I also thought the requirement to include it was 
helpful in reminding me what was really going on there, that I was 
creating an instance method which was really a function that wouldn't 
actually be created until the instance was initiated.  I tend to think 
this may be clearer though using the dot notation rather than passing 
the instance variable as a parameter.

I'm not sure though whether allowing both syntaxes would make things 
more or less confusing. It might actually be helpful in some respects 
for newcomers to realize that self.method(arg) is somewhat the same as 
method(self, arg).  Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I don't fully understand 
yet what is going on under the hood, but it seems to me that that would 
be part of the glue that allows Python to be so multi-paradigm; much of 
the difference between OOP and procedural or functional is just 
different syntax for the same thing.






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