Attaching custom exceptions to functions and classes
Having too many custom exceptions on a project can be a pain, but a few choices ones are really nice. The problem is that in complex libraries having to import both functions and exceptions becomes a drag. To mitigate having to remember to import custom exceptions, this is a handy pattern you can use in a project and can be done on both functions and classes.
Attaching a custom exception to a function
This works because Python functions are first-class objects. They can be passed around as things, and in this case, have things assigned to them.
# logic.py class DoesNotCompute(Exception): """ Easy to understand naming conventions work best! """ pass def this_function(x): """ This function only works on numbers.""" try: return x ** x except TypeError: raise DoesNotCompute # Assign DoesNotCompute exception to this_function this_function.DoesNotCompute = DoesNotCompute
Now I can import the function, and it won't just through
DoesNotCompute exceptions, it will also carry the function along with
>>> from logic import this_function >>> this_function(5) 3125 >>> this_function(4.5) 869.8739233809259 >>> this_function('will throw an error.') Traceback (most recent call last): File "<input>", line 1, in <module> File "logic.py", line 10, in this_function raise DoesNotCompute DoesNotCompute
Alright, that doesn't seem like much, but let's add in some exception handling:
>>> try: ... this_function('is an example') ... except this_function.DoesNotCompute: ... print('See what attaching custom exceptions to functions can do?') ... ... See what attaching custom exceptions to functions can do?
Attaching the custom exception to a class
All we have to do is enhance our existing logic.py file by adding
# logic.py class DoesNotCompute(Exception): """ Easy to understand naming conventions work best! """ pass # removed the function example for clarity class ThisClass(object): # Since the DoesNotCompute exception exists, let's just assign it # as an attribute of ThisClass DoesNotCompute = DoesNotCompute def this_method(self, x): """ This method only works on numbers.""" try: return x ** x except TypeError: raise DoesNotCompute
Now to demonstrate in the shell (Python REPL for the semantic purists):
>>> from t import ThisClass >>> this_class = ThisClass() >>> this_class.this_method(3.3) 51.415729444066585 >>> this_class.this_method('Jack Diederich warned against custom exceptions') Traceback (most recent call last): File "<input>", line 1, in <module> File "logic.py", line 24, in this_method raise DoesNotCompute DoesNotCompute >>> try: ... this_class.this_method('I need to write a follow-up on my OAuth post') ... except ThisClass.DoesNotCompute: ... print('Waiting to see how the OAuth stuff pans out') ... ... Waiting to see how the OAuth stuff pans out
Admonition: Don't go crazy
Rather than use this trick all over the place, considering using it in a
few places to powerful effect. For example,
Django uses it only in a few places, and
publicly only on
MyModelClass.MultipleObjectsReturned. By limiting Django's use of
this technique, Django libraries are that much easier to comprehend. In
this case, less complexity means more.
I say this because this pattern lends itself to creating custom exceptions to the point of effectively replacing Python's stock exceptions with your own. This makes for harder-to-maintain and harder-to-learn projects.
Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.