Castrated traceback in sys.exc_info()

Pascal Chambon chambon.pascal at
Tue Mar 23 21:49:14 CET 2010

Gabriel Genellina a écrit :
> En Mon, 22 Mar 2010 15:20:39 -0300, Pascal Chambon 
> <chambon.pascal at> escribió:
>> Allright, here is more concretely the problem :
>> ERROR:root:An error
>> Traceback (most recent call last):
>>   File "C:/Users/Pakal/Desktop/", line 7, in c
>>     return d()
>>   File "C:/Users/Pakal/Desktop/", line 11, in d
>>     def d(): raise ValueError
>> ValueError
>>  >>>
>> As you see, the traceback only starts from function c, which handles 
>> the exception.
>> It doesn't show main(), a() and b(), which might however be (and are, 
>> in my case) critical to diagnose the severity of the problem (since 
>> many different paths would lead to calling c()).
>> So the question is : is that possible to enforce, by a way or 
>> another, the retrieval of the FULL traceback at exception raising 
>> point, instead of that incomplete one ?
> Thanks for bringing this topic! I learned a lot trying to understand 
> what happens.
> The exception traceback (what sys.exc_info()[2] returns) is *not* a 
> complete stack trace. The sys module documentation is wrong [1] when 
> it says "...encapsulates the call stack at the point where the 
> exception originally occurred."
> The Language Reference is more clear [2]: "Traceback objects represent 
> a stack trace of an exception. A traceback object is created when an 
> exception occurs. When the search for an exception handler unwinds the 
> execution stack, at each unwound level a traceback object is inserted 
> in front of the current traceback. When an exception handler is 
> entered, the stack trace is made available to the program."
> That is, a traceback holds only the *forward* part of the stack: the 
> frames already exited when looking for an exception handler. Frames 
> going from the program starting point up to the current execution 
> point are *not* included.
> Conceptually, it's like having two lists: stack and traceback. The 
> complete stack trace is always stack+traceback. At each step (when 
> unwinding the stack, looking for a frame able to handle the current 
> exception) an item is popped from the top of the stack (last item) and 
> inserted at the head of the traceback.
> The traceback holds the "forward" path (from the current execution 
> point, to the frame where the exception was actually raised). It's a 
> linked list, its tb_next attribute holds a reference to the next item; 
> None marks the last one.
> The "back" path (going from the current execution point to its caller 
> and all the way to the program entry point) is a linked list of 
> frames; the f_back attribute points to the previous one, or None.
> In order to show a complete stack trace, one should combine both. The 
> traceback module contains several useful functions: extract_stack() + 
> extract_tb() are a starting point. The simplest way I could find to 
> make the logging module report a complete stack is to monkey patch 
> logging.Formatter.formatException so it uses format_exception() and 
> format_stack() combined (in fact it is simpler than the current 
> implementation using a StringIO object):
Good point, there is clearly a distinction between "stack trace" and 
"exception traceback" that I didn't know (actually, it seems no one 
makes it in computer literature).

> Good catch, Gabriel.
> There should be no need to monkey-patch the logging module - it's
> better if I include the change in the module itself. The only
> remaining question is that of backward compatibility, but I can do
> this for Python 2.7/3.2 only so that won't be an issue. It's probably
> a good idea to log an issue on the bug tracker, though, so we have
> some history for the change - do you want to do that, or shall I?
> Regards,
> Vinay Sajip
Well having it fixed in logging would be great, but that kind of 
information is good to have in other circumstances, so shouldn't we 
rather advocate the availability of this "stack trace part" in exc_info 
too ?
This way, people like me who consider frames as black magic wouldn't 
need to meet complex stuffs as 
"traceback.format_stack(ei[2].tb_frame.f_back"  :p

Should I open an issue for this evolution of exceptiuon handling, or 
should we content ourselves of this "hacking" of frame stck ?


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