Python handles globals badly.

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Fri Sep 11 10:42:02 CEST 2015

On Fri, 11 Sep 2015 10:35 am, Ian Kelly wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 4:25 PM,  <tdev at> wrote:
>> So the compiler knows the distiction between global and local already.
> As we've said before, it doesn't. The compiler's current rules are
> fairly simple:
> 1) If it's in the function's argument list, it's an argument (and
> therefore local).
> 2) If it's explicitly declared global, then it's global.
> 3) If it's never assigned within the function, then it's global.

Almost. If it's never assigned within the function, then it is looked up
according to the non-local scoping rules:

- closures and enclosing functions (if any);
- globals;
- builtins;

in that order.

> 4) Otherwise, it's local.

"Otherwise" meaning "if it is assigned to", except that "del" counts as an
assignment. That is:

def spam():
    del x

makes x a local variable inside the function spam.

There's also a bunch of specialised and complicated rules for what happens
if you make a star import ("from module import *") inside a function, or
call eval or exec without specifying a namespace. Both of these things are
now illegal in Python 3.

And lastly, in Python 3 only, there is also a nonlocal declaration which
works like global except it applies only to closures and enclosing

>> Another proof about identation:
>> The parser can recognise identation with tabs and spaces.
> You can use tabs *or* spaces. 

In Python 3.

In Python 2, you can mix tabs *and* spaces, and Python will try to guess
what you mean. This causes more trouble than it is worth, and is removed in
Python 3.

> I really doubt that you're going to gain any traction with this one,
> because the decision that was made with Python 3 was to make the
> compiler *more* rigid about not mixing tabs and spaces, not less.


>> Who is responding or has responded?
>> Extreme Programmers, Python-Hardliner, Python-Evangelists, ... .
>> Presumably no core Python Programmers (wrting compiler and standard
>> library stuff)
> Ad hominem.

For the record, I am the author of the statistics module in Python 3.4, and
Terry Reedy is the very active maintainer of IDLE. If I have missed anyone,
my apologies. So, yes, there are core developers here.

(Although not any of the senior core devs, as far as I know.)


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