Possibility and Probability

Coding Python and making businesses…

6 February 2011

Choices - The hidden powers of python

by admin

The other day I saw something about this interesting posting on Stack Overflow: What are the lesser-known but useful features of the Python programming language? As someone who loves to work in Python and is always looking for a better way to get things done, I had to read this article right away. I was pretty pleased with myself that I knew a lot of the things listed, and I was really happy when I ran into some nuggets that I knew nothing about. For example, I did not know that you could do this in Python:

1 < x <10

To me, that is really awesome because not only is what you would write in a mathematical sense, but it also is much more concise and what you would see in a pseudo-code representation of a program. That is the power of Python, taking an idea (a computer program) and presenting it in a readable manner. Being able to use the above type of expression just takes us further down that path of readability and that is a good thing. And yes, you can write crappy code in Python, but at least you have the choice: many languages simply have one way to do things. Choices are good. And speaking of choices, I thought this feature was very cool, even if I would never use it:

from future import braces

That allows the use of {} instead of white space in a Python program. I know some people can’t stand the indention rules of the language and feel more comfortable when they are “braced” (for impact?), but the fact the language has features to be able to turn this on? That is 1 million pounds of awesome in  a 5 pound sack. There is a ton of other neat tricks there, go and read up and see what you can do to make your code work more for you! Choice is a great thing. With Python, you have lots of great choices you can make. And if you decide to make no choices, you still wind up with pretty readable code which is always a good thing.