Is it ok to type check a boolean argument?

Bruno Desthuilliers bruno.42.desthuilliers at websiteburo.invalid
Thu Jan 8 13:38:19 CET 2009

Adal Chiriliuc a écrit :
> On Jan 7, 10:15 pm, Bruno Desthuilliers
> <bdesth.quelquech... at> wrote:
>> This being said, I can only concur with other posters here about the
>> very poor naming. As far as I'm concerned, I'd either keep the argument
>> as a boolean but rename it "ascending" (and use a default True value),
>> or keep the 'order' name but then accept 'asc' and 'desc' as values
>> ('asc' being the default).
> Well, I lied a bit :-p
> The actual function is 20 lines long, and does other stuff to. The
> "order" argument is not passed as an argument, but as a field on an
> input object.

Then the input object should probably be responsible for validating this 

> You are all right, "order" is a bad name choice. "sort_ascending"
> would be a much better name for a boolean variable.
> I found Paul's idea very interesting, but I prefer to not introduce
> new objects which behave like C enums (maybe that would be more
> Pythonic?), so I found this variant:
> def find(field, sort_ascending):
> ....order_by = {True: "asc", False: "desc"}
> ....return _find(field + "+" + order_by[sort_ascending])

for a simple True/False dispatch, my usual idiom (predating the ternary 
operator) is:

       order_by = ("desc", "asc")[sort_ascending]

> But what if we can't solve it as ellegantly, and we need to execute
> different code depending on the condition:
> def find(field, fast_mode=True):
> ....if fast_mode:
> ........do_something(field, 1, DEFAULT_PAGE_SIZE)
> ....else:
> ........do_another_thing(field, False, "xml", ignore_error=False)
> ........and_another_one()
> Should we typecheck in this case to ensure that if we pass a string
> for "fast_mode" we will raise an exception?

I don't think so. Going that way, you will end up typechecking each and 
any function argument. While there are a couple typechecks here and 
there even in the stdlib and builtins, this doesn't mean it's how Python 
is supposed to be used - Python is a dynamic language, leave with it or 
  choose another one !-)

But anyway, ensuring a program's correctness requires much more than 
static typing. What you want IMHO is:

1/ a solid *user input* validation/conversion framework (FormEncode 
comes to mind)
2/ a sensible set of unittests and integration tests.

Trying to forcefit static typing into Python will only buy you pain and 
frustration (not even talking about the waste of time).

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