File not closed on exception

arve.knudsen at arve.knudsen at
Tue Oct 20 08:20:57 CEST 2009

On Oct 19, 4:14 pm, Grant Edwards <inva... at invalid.invalid> wrote:
> On 2009-10-19, arve.knud... at <arve.knud... at> wrote:
> > I thought that file objects were supposed to be
> > garbage-collected and automatically closed once they go out of
> > scope,
> At some point after they go out of scope, they will be.
> Eventually.  Exactly when is an implementation detail.
> > at least that's what I've been told by more merited Python
> > programmers. I'm also quite sure that this is quite a common
> > assumption in various programs,
> If your program relies on the assumption that some particular
> object will be garbage-collected between points A and B, then
> that's a bug in your program.  If you depend on the fact that
> some object has been delted, then "del" it.  If you depend on
> the fact that a file is closed, then close it.

Personally I am against that assumption, and prefer a utility function
which reads the file and automatically closes it in a "finally" block
(in lieu of the "with" keyword). However, when providing a patch for a
high-profile opensource Python project I was scolded for going to such
lengths, as the prescribed style was to just open files and let them
be closed implicitly.

Also, the problem may arise when I call a function in a 3rd party
library, that it opens files which I then can't delete upon an
exception from within said function. Actually, something like that did
happen and spurred my original question, but fortunately a reference
to the file was kept in the 3rd party object I was operating on, so I
was able to free it in a "finally" block.


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