Best Way to Handle All Exceptions

seldan24 seldan24 at
Mon Jul 13 11:03:27 EDT 2009

On Jul 13, 10:33 am, MRAB <pyt... at> wrote:
> seldan24 wrote:
> > Hello,
> > I'm fairly new at Python so hopefully this question won't be too
> > awful.  I am writing some code that will FTP to a host, and want to
> > catch any exception that may occur, take that and print it out
> > (eventually put it into a log file and perform some alerting action).
> > I've figured out two different ways to do this, and am wondering which
> > is the best (i.e. cleanest, 'right' way to proceed).  I'm also trying
> > to understand exactly what occurs for each one.
> > The first example:
> > from ftplib import FTP
> > try:
> >     ftp = FTP(ftp_host)
> >     ftp.login(ftp_user, ftp_pass)
> > except Exception, err:
> >     print err
> > This works fine.  I read through the documentation, and my
> > understanding is that there is a built-in exceptions module in python,
> > that is automatically available in a built-in namespace.  Within that
> > module is an 'Exception' class which would contain whatever exception
> > is thrown.  So, I'm passing that to the except, along with err to hold
> > the value and then print it out.
> There isn't an "exceptions module"; exceptions are part of the language.
> > The second example:
> > from ftplib import FTP
> > import sys
> > try:
> >     ftp = FTP(ftp_host)
> >     ftp.login(ftp_user, ftp_pass)
> > except:
> >     print sys.exc_info()
> This is called a "bare exception handler". It's virtually never the
> right way to do it.
> > Here I, for the most part, get the same thing.  I'm not passing
> > anything to except and just printing out the exception using a method
> > defined in the sys module.
> > So, I'm new to Python... I've made it this far and am happy, but want
> > to make sure I'm coding correctly from the start.  Which method is the
> > better/cleaner/more standard way to continue?  Thanks for any help.
> You should use the most specific exception possible because at lot of
> things could raise an exception:
>  >>> foo
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>    File "<pyshell#0>", line 1, in <module>
>      foo
> NameError: name 'foo' is not defined
>  >>> try:
>      foo
> except Exception, e:
>      print "*** Caught an exception ***"
>      print e
> *** Caught an exception ***
> name 'foo' is not defined- Hide quoted text -
> - Show quoted text -

Thank you both for your input.  I want to make sure I get started on
the right track.  For this particular script, I should have included
that I would take the exception contents, and pass those to the
logging module.  For this particular script, all exceptions are fatal
and I would want them to be.  I just wanted a way to catch them and
log them prior to program termination.  I can understand why folks
should always specify exact exceptions where possible if they plan on
doing something with them, but I just want to log and terminate (and
alarm) when any exception, irregardless of what it is, occurs; that's
why I'm using the catch-all approach.  I most likely should have put
in an exit() in my snippet; sorry about that.

I did notice that Python allows different objects to be thrown.  This
threw me off a bit because, at first, I was expecting everything to
come through as nice, easy tuples.  It turns out that ftplib throws
some class from the sockets module (my terminology may be off here).
As for terminology, sorry about the 'exceptions' misuse.  The Python
documentation refers to 'exceptions' as a module, albeit built-in, so
I used that language accordingly (link to doc:

Anyway, thanks again for the help and advice, it is greatly

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