Pythonic code: the with statement · Matt Layman

Pythonic code: the with statement · Matt Layman

In this series of posts, I'm going to examine common design patterns in Python that make Python code feel "Pythonic." This second post covers Python's with statement, a syntax to elegantly handle code that requires set up and tear down.This post continues a series on “Pythonic” code. Pythonic code is code that fits well with the design of the Python language.

This post continues a series on “Pythonic” code. Pythonic code is code that fits well with the design of the Python language. Previously, I wrote about list comprehensions as a powerful way to manipulate Python’s list data structure. This post will cover the with statement.

  1. The list comprehension
  2. The with statement
  3. The property decorator
  4. Built-in functions
  5. Using the standard library
  6. Leveraging packages

The with statement

One task that you are likely to encounter while programming Python is the need to open a file. That file might contain tables of data or pictures of kittens. Whatever you find yourself doing, you’ll come across the open function. Let’s work through a thought experiment which can help explain why you should use with.

If you’re brand new to Python, you might open a file like so:

f = open('kitteh.jpg', 'rb')
cat_pic = f.read()
# Do other stuff with the cat picture.

After speaking with a friend with more Python experience than you, you learn that you’re supposed to close files or else the operating system will eventually run into trouble (because it can only track a limited number of open files). You rewrite your code:

f = open('kitteh.jpg', 'rb')
cat_pic = f.read()
# Do other stuff with the cat picture.
f.close()

pythonic code python

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