package import dangers

Carl Banks pavlovevidence at
Wed Oct 7 02:01:41 CEST 2009

On Oct 6, 3:56 pm, Steven D'Aprano
<ste... at> wrote:
> On Tue, 06 Oct 2009 18:42:16 +0200, Diez B. Roggisch wrote:
> > The most common problem is that a file is used as module and as
> > executable at the same time.
> > Like this:
> > --- ---
> > class Foo(object):
> >     pass
> > if __name__ == "__main__":
> >    import test
> >    assert Foo is test.Foo
> > ---
> > This will fail when executed from the commandline because the module is
> > known twice - once as "__main__", once as "test".
> Why would a module need to import itself? Surely that's a very rare
> occurrence -- I think I've used it twice, in 12 years or so. I don't see
> why you need to disparage the idea of combining modules and scripts in
> the one file because of one subtle gotcha.

I'm sorry, this can't reasonably be characterized as a "subtle
gotcha".  I totally disagree, it's not a gotcha but a major time-
killing head-scratcher, and it's too thoroughly convoluted to be
called subtle (subtle is like one tricky detail that messes up an
otherwise clean design, whereas this is like a dozen tricky details
the mess the whole thing up).

It's easily the most confusing thing commonly encountered in Python.
I've seen experts struggle to grasp the details.

Newbies and intermediate programmers should be advised never to do it,
use a file as either a script or a module, not both.  Expert
programmers who understand the issues--and lots of experts don't--can
feel free to venture into those waters warily.  I would say that's an
inferior solution than the method I advised in another thread that
uses a single script as an entry point and inputs modules.  But I'm
not going to tell an expert how to do it.

Average programmers, yes I will.  Too easy to mess up, too hard to
understand, and too little benefit, so don't do it.  File should be
either a module or script, not both.

Carl Banks

More information about the Python-list mailing list