Why does list have no 'get' method?

Denis Bilenko denis.bilenko at gmail.com
Thu Feb 7 10:57:43 CET 2008

Tim Golden wrote:

> Dodging your question slightly (and at the risk of teaching
> my grandmother to suck eggs) I sometimes use this idiom for
> checking params. Obviously it only goes so far, but it's
> fairly compact:

> <Noddy example code>
> import os, sys

> if __name__ == '__main__':
>   ARGS = None, "DEV"
>   filename, db = \
>     (j or i for i, j in map (None, ARGS, sys.argv[1:]))

>   print sys.argv
>   print filename, db

> </code>

Thank you for the example. It demonstrates perfectly how
much people miss this feature :)

Raymond Hettinger wrote:

> At first blush that example would make it seem like a good idea, but I
> don't see how the example could extend past the first index.  If the
> port argument is optional, how would you know the index position of
> optional arguments to follow?

> With a dictionary, one could plausibly write:

>  host = d.get('host', 'http://example.com')
>  port = d.get('port', 8080)
>  path = d.get('path', '/')

> But would this make sense with a list:

>  host = s.get(0, 'http://example.com')
>  port = d.get(1, 8080)
>  path = d.get(2, '/')

> If positions 0 and 1 are optional, how do you expect to know whether
> "path" is going to be at position 2?  This problem doesn't exist with
> dictionaries because the presence or absence of optional entries does
> not affect the key reference to other entries.  Accordingly, I
> wouldn't expect that dict.get() would have a parallel list.get() with
> plausible use cases.

If you want to fill position 2, then positions 0 and 1 are mandatory.
It is the simplest possible option parsing, I didn't said it was the
most flexible :)

But perhaps it was a wrong example altogether.

Consider a couple more snippets, unrelated to command-line options.
(found by searching 'IndexError' in the python standard library)

this snippet from cmd.py:

        return self.completion_matches[state]
    except IndexError:
        return None

transforms into

    return self.completion_matches.get(state)

another one from fileinput.py

        line = self._buffer[self._bufindex]
    except IndexError:
        self._bufindex += 1
        self._lineno += 1
        self._filelineno += 1
        return line
    line = self.readline()


    line = self._buffer.get(self._bufindex)
    if line:
        self._bufindex += 1
        self._lineno += 1
        self._filelineno += 1
        return line
    line = self.readline()

both examples show reduction by 3 lines.

There's nothing dictionary-specific in 'get', it is
just a special use-case of '__getitem__' that is needed frequently.
Since list has '__getitem__' it deserves to have 'get' too.

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