Symbols as parameters?

Iain King iainking at
Thu Jan 21 10:30:19 CET 2010

On Jan 21, 7:43 am, Martin Drautzburg <Martin.Drautzb... at>
> Hello all,
> When passing parameters to a function, you sometimes need a paramter
> which can only assume certain values, e.g.
>         def move (direction):
>                 ...
> If direction can only be "up", "down", "left" or "right", you can solve
> this by passing strings, but this is not quite to the point:
>         - you could pass invalid strings easily
>         - you need to quote thigs, which is a nuisance
>         - the parameter IS REALLY NOT A STRING, but a direction
> Alternatively you could export such symbols, so when you "import *" you
> have them available in the caller's namespace. But that forces you
> to "import *" which pollutes your namespace.
> What I am really looking for is a way
>         - to be able to call move(up)
>         - having the "up" symbol only in the context of the function call
> So it should look something like this
> ... magic, magic ...
> move(up)
> ... unmagic, unmagic ...
> print up
> This should complain that "up" is not defined during the "print" call,
> but not when move() is called. And of course there should be as little
> magic as possible.
> Any way to achieve this?

class Direction(object):

def is_direction(d):
  return type(d)==Direction

up = Direction()
down = Direction()
left = Direction()
right = Direction()

Now you can do your move(up), print up, etc. You can also check a
valid direction was passed in by calling is_direction.  'Course, you
can extend this so it does something a little more useful:

class Direction(object):
  def __init__(self, vx=0, vy=0):
    self.vx = vx
    self.vy = vy

up = Direction(0, -1)
down = Direction(0, 1)
left = Direction(-1, 0)
right = Direction(1, 0)

def move(direction):
  spaceship.x += direction.vx
  spaceship.y += direction.vy


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