[Tutor] concerning help() function

Dave Angel davea at ieee.org
Wed Jul 29 17:22:55 CEST 2009

David wrote:
> Dear Tutors,
> whenever I make use of the help() function, I have a good chance of
> getting an error. I have not yet understood this tool very well.
> Take the modules operator and random as examples. The former is
> built-in, the latter not.
> Do I wish to see the help files, I have to use a different syntax:
> help(random)
> help('operator')
> I figured this by trial and error, and I am keen to find out when the
> help() function is to be supplied with a string, and when no '' is
> required. It certainly does not seem intuitive to me!
> Many thanks,
> David
As far as I know, the only difference between the two forms is that with 
the quotes, you can get help on a module that has *not* been imported, 
while if a module had been imported, you can leave off the quotes.

For those two modules, you need the quotes till you import them.  I 
don't see any difference between them, at least in :Python 2.6.2

For things that are really built-in, such as the function open(), you 
can get help without importing anything, since it's already visible.  So 
you can say help(open), or help(property).


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