Attack a sacred Python Cow

Colin J. Williams cjw at ncf.ca
Sat Jul 26 01:44:28 CEST 2008


Fuzzyman wrote:
> On Jul 24, 6:41 am, Jordan <jordanrastr... at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi everyone,
>>
>> I'm a big Python fan who used to be involved semi regularly in
>> comp.lang.python (lots of lurking, occasional posting) but kind of
>> trailed off a bit. I just wrote a frustration inspired rant on my
>> blog, and I thought it was relevant enough as a wider issue to the
>> Python community to post here for your discussion and consideration.
>>
>> This is not flamebait. I love Python, and I'm not out to antagonise
>> the community. I also realise that one of the issues I raise is way
>> too ingrained to be changed now. I'd just like to share my thinking on
>> a misstep in Python's guiding principles that has done more harm than
>> good IMO. So anyway, here's the post.
>>
>> I've become utterly convinced that at least one criticism leveled at
>> my favourite overall programming language, Python, is utterly true and
>> fair. After quite a while away from writing Python code, I started
>> last night on a whim to knock up some code for a prototype of an idea
>> I once had. It's going swimmingly; the Python Image Library, which I'd
>> never used before, seems quick, intuitive, and with the all the
>> features I need for this project. As for Python itself, well, my heart
>> still belongs to whitespace delimitation. All the basics of Python
>> coding are there in my mind like I never stopped using them, or like
>> I've been programming in this language for 10 years.
>>
>> Except when it comes to Classes. I added some classes to code that had
>> previously just been functions, and you know what I did - or rather,
>> forgot to do? Put in the 'self'. In front of some of the variable
>> accesses, but more noticably, at the start of *every single method
>> argument list.* This cannot be any longer blamed as a hangover from
>> Java - I've written a ton more code, more recently in Python than in
>> Java or any other OO language. What's more, every time I go back to
>> Python after a break of more than about a week or so, I start making
>> this 'mistake' again. The perennial justification for this 'feature'
>> of the language? That old Python favourite, "Explicit is better than
>> implicit."
>>
> 
> 
> It's damn useful for scoping. You can look in the body of your method
> and tell whether you are accessing local variables or instance
> variables.
> 
> I'm a great fan of self and I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse on
> that one.
> 
> Your point about rich comparison (at least the == != problem) is fair..
> This one is fixed in Python 3 though I believe.
> 
> Michael Foord
> --
> http://www.ironpythoninaction.com/

I hope that the OP will develop some 
specific proposal, narrowly focused on
the "self" issue.

It has always seemed redundant on the 
argument line of a definition.  It does
permit one to use some other word but is 
that of any real value.

One can still use self.a= 'z' or perhaps 
.a= 'z'.

Colin W.



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