Fastcore: An Underrated Python Library

Fastcore: An Underrated Python Library

Fastcore: An Underrated Python Library. A unique python library that extends the python programming language and provides utilities that enhance productivity.

Background

I recently embarked on a journey to sharpen my python skills: I wanted to learn advanced patterns, idioms, and techniques. I started with reading books on advanced Python, however, the information didn't seem to stick without having somewhere to apply it. I also wanted the ability to ask questions from an expert while I was learning -- which is an arrangement that is hard to find! That's when it occurred to me: What if I could find an open source project that has fairly advanced python code and write documentation and tests? I made a bet that if I did this it would force me to learn everything very deeply, and the maintainers would be appreciative of my work and be willing to answer my questions.

And that's exactly what I did over the past month! I'm pleased to report that it has been the most efficient learning experience I've ever experienced. I've discovered that writing documentation forced me to deeply understand not just what the code does but also why the code works the way it does, and to explore edge cases while writing tests. Most importantly, I was able to ask questions when I was stuck, and maintainers were willing to devote extra time knowing that their mentorship was in service of making their code more accessible! It turns out the library I choose, fastcore is some of the most fascinating Python I have ever encountered as its purpose and goals are fairly unique.

For the uninitiated, fastcore is a library on top of which many fast.ai projects are built on. Most importantly, fastcore extends the python programming language and strives to eliminate boilerplate and add useful functionality for common tasks. In this blog post, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite tools that fastcore provides, rather than sharing what I learned about python. My goal is to pique your interest in this library, and hopefully motivate you to check out the documentation after you are done to learn more!

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