Idioms combining 'next(items)' and 'for item in items:'

Duncan Booth duncan.booth at invalid.invalid
Mon Sep 12 15:06:47 CEST 2011

Terry Reedy <tjreedy at> wrote:

> The statement containing the explicit next(items) call can optionally be 
> wrapped to explicitly handle the case of an empty iterable in whatever 
> manner is desired.
> try:
>      <set up with next(items)>
> except StopIteration:
>      raise ValueError("iterable cannot be empty")
Alternatively, if all you want is for an empty iterable to do nothing, you 
could write it like this:

    items = iter(iterable)
    for first in items:
        <process first>
    for item in items:
        <process non-first>

However, the issue I have with any of this pulling the first element out of 
the loop is that if you want special processing for the first element you 
are likely to also want it for the last, and if it is a single item you need 
to process that item with both bits of special code. I don't see how that works 
unless you have all elements within the single loop and test for first/last.

> 2. Process the last item of an iterable differently. As far as I know, 
> this cannot be done for a generic iterable with a flag. It requires a 
> look ahead.

I think that must be correct, e.g. if reading from an interactive prompt you 
cannot detect end of input until you fail to read any more.

See my answer to
for a generator that wraps the lookahead.

Duncan Booth

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