Tag Archives: Python 3

New in Python: Syntax for variable annotations

Python 3.6 added another interesting new feature that is known as Syntax for variable annotations. This new feature is outlined in PEP 526. The basic premise of this PEP is take the idea of Type Hinting (PEP 484) to its next logical step, which is basically adding option type definitions to Python variables, including class variables and instance variables. Please note that adding these annotations or definitions does not suddenly make Python a statically typed language. The interpreter still doesn’t care what type the variable is. However, a Python IDE or other utility like pylint could have an annotation checker added to them that could highlight when you use a variable that you have annotated as one type and then used incorrectly by changing its type mid-function.

Let’s look at a simple example so we can see how this works:

# annotate.py
name: str = 'Mike'

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New in Python: Underscores in Numeric Literals

Python 3.6 added some interesting new features. The one that we will be looking at in this article comes from PEP 515: Underscores in Numeric Literals. As the name of the PEP implies, this basically gives you the ability to write long numbers with underscores where the comma normally would be. In other words, 1000000 can now be written as 1_000_000. Let’s take a look at some simple examples:

>>> 1_234_567
>>> '{:_}'.format(1234567)

The first example just shows how Python interprets a large number with underscores in it. The second example demonstrates that we can now give Python a string formatter, the “_” (underscore), in place of a comma. The results speak for themselves.

The numeric literals that include underscores behave the same way as normal numeric literals when doing calculations:

>>> 120_000 + 30_000
>>> 120_000 - 30_000

The Python documentation and the PEP also mention that you can use the underscores after any base specifier. Here are a couple of examples taken from the PEP and the documentation:

>>> flags = 0b_0011_1111_0100_1110
>>> flags
>>> 0x_FF_FF_FF_FF
>>> flags = int('0b_1111_0000', 2)
>>> flags

There are some notes about the underscore that need to be mentioned:

  • You can only use one consecutive underscore and it has to be between digits and after any base specifier
  • Leading and trailing underscores are not allowed

This is kind of a fun new feature in Python. While I personally don’t have any use cases for this in my current job, hopefully you will have one at yours.

ANN: The Python by Example Udemy Course

I am happy to announce my first Udemy course on the Python programming language. It is called Python by Example and is a re-branding of my Python 101 Screencast series. I had originally hoped to keep the name, Python 101 on Udemy, but someone else had already taken it by the time I got my course started on there. Regardless, the course is made with the first 35 videos from the Python 101 Screencast. I plan to add the rest later this year.


What You Get

At the time of writing, you will receive 35 lectures or 6.5 hours of content. I have also included chapters from Python 101 that correspond with each lecture.

How to Purchase

To purchase Python by Example, just go to the following link: https://www.udemy.com/python-by-example/?couponCode=py25. The coupon code will give you 25% off.

Python 201: An Intro to importlib

Python provides the importlib package as part of its standard library of modules. Its purpose is to provide the implementation to Python’s import statement (and the __import__() function). In addition, importlib gives the programmer the ability to create their own custom objects (AKA an importer) that can be used in the import process.

What about imp?

There is another module called imp that provides an interface to the mechanisms behind Python’s import statement. This module was deprecated in Python 3.4. It is intended that importlib should be used in its place.

This module is pretty complicated, so we’ll be limiting the scope of this article to the following topics:

  • Dynamic imports
  • Checking is a module can be imported
  • Importing from the source file itself

Let’s get started by looking at dynamic imports!

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Python 3: An Intro to Encryption

Python 3 doesn’t have very much in its standard library that deals with encryption. Instead, you get hashing libraries. We’ll take a brief look at those in the chapter, but the primary focus will be on the following 3rd party packages: PyCrypto and cryptography. We will learn how to encrypt and decrypt strings with both of these libraries.


If you need secure hashes or message digest algorithms, then Python’s standard library has you covered in the hashlib module. It includes the FIPS secure hash algorithms SHA1, SHA224, SHA256, SHA384, and SHA512 as well as RSA’s MD5 algorithm. Python also supports the adler32 and crc32 hash functions, but those are in the zlib module.

One of the most popular uses of hashes is storing the hash of a password instead of the password itself. Of course, the hash has to be a good one or it can be decrypted. Another popular use case for hashes is to hash a file and then send the file and its hash separately. Then the person receiving the file can run a hash on the file to see if it matches the hash that was sent. If it does, then that means no one has changed the file in transit.

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Python 201 – What is a ChainMap?

A ChainMap is a class from the collections module that provides the ability to link multiple mappings together such that they end up being a single unit. If you look at the documentation, you will notice that it accepts *maps, which means that a ChainMap will accept any number of mappings or dictionaries and turn them into a single view that you can update. Let’s look at an example so you can see how this works:

>>> from collections import ChainMap
>>> car_parts = {'hood': 500, 'engine': 5000, 'front_door': 750}
>>> car_options = {'A/C': 1000, 'Turbo': 2500, 'rollbar': 300}
>>> car_accessories = {'cover': 100, 'hood_ornament': 150, 'seat_cover': 99}
>>> car_pricing = ChainMap(car_accessories, car_options, car_parts)
>>> car_pricing['hood']

Here we import ChainMap from our collections module. Next we create three dictionaries. Then we create an instance of our ChainMap by passing in the three dictionaries that we just created. Finally, we try accessing one of the keys in our ChainMap. When we do this, the ChainMap will go through each map in order to see if that key exists and has a value. If it does, then the ChainMap will return the first value it finds that matches that key.

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Python 3 – Function Overloading with singledispatch

Python fairly recently added partial support for function overloading in Python 3.4. They did this by adding a neat little decorator to the functools module called singledispatch. This decorator will transform your regular function into a single dispatch generic function. Note however that singledispatch only happens based on the first argument’s type. Let’s take a look at an example to see how this works!

from functools import singledispatch
def add(a, b):
    raise NotImplementedError('Unsupported type')
def _(a, b):
    print("First argument is of type ", type(a))
    print(a + b)
def _(a, b):
    print("First argument is of type ", type(a))
    print(a + b)
def _(a, b):
    print("First argument is of type ", type(a))
    print(a + b)
if __name__ == '__main__':
    add(1, 2)
    add('Python', 'Programming')
    add([1, 2, 3], [5, 6, 7])

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Python 3 – Import from github

The other day, I came across this interesting experimental package called import_from_github_com. The package uses the new import hooks provided in PEP 302 to basically allow you to import a package from github. What the package actually appears to do is install the package and add it to locals. Anyway, you need Python 3.2 or greater, git and pip to use this package.

Once it’s installed, you can do the following:

>>> from github_com.zzzeek import sqlalchemy
Collecting git+https://github.com/zzzeek/sqlalchemy
  Cloning https://github.com/zzzeek/sqlalchemy to /tmp/pip-acfv7t06-build
Installing collected packages: SQLAlchemy
  Running setup.py install for SQLAlchemy ... done
Successfully installed SQLAlchemy-1.1.0b1.dev0
>>> locals()
{'__builtins__': <module 'builtins' (built-in)>, '__spec__': None,
 '__package__': None, '__doc__': None, '__name__': '__main__', 
'sqlalchemy': <module 'sqlalchemy' from '/usr/local/lib/python3.5/site-packages/sqlalchemy/__init__.py'>,
 '__loader__': <class '_frozen_importlib.BuiltinImporter'>}

One important note that isn’t mentioned on the package’s github page is that you need to run Python as an administrator or it won’t be able to install its packages. At least, this was true for me on Xubuntu. Anyway I thought this was a neat little package and demonstrates some of neat little import hooks that you can add to Python 3.

Python 3 – An Intro to Type Hinting

Python 3.5 added an interesting new library called typing. This adds type hinting to Python. Type hinting is kind of declaring your functions arguments to have a certain type. However the type hinting is not binding. It’s just a hint, so there’s nothing preventing the programmer from passing something they shouldn’t. This is Python after all. You can read the type hinting specification in PEP 484 or you can just read the theory behind it in PEP 483.

Let’s take a look at a simple example:

>>> def some_function(number: int, name: str) -> None:
	print("%s entered %s" % (name, number))
>>> some_function(13, 'Mike')
Mike entered 13

This means that some_function expects two arguments where the first is an integer and the second is a string. It should also be noted that we have hinted that this function returns None.

Continue reading Python 3 – An Intro to Type Hinting

Weekly Python News: 01/28/2011

It’s almost the end of January already and PyCon USA 2011 is just around the corner. In this edition, we cover a wide variety of topics, from Python 2.7 – 3.x. We’ve got sprints, new books, web-related projects and good old recursion articles. Come one, come all! Read the news of the week!

On the PyCon front, you should take note the Early Bird pricing is now over. Why did you wait? Fortunately, they are still selling tickets, so stop stalling and just come! The PyCon blog also mentions that they’re still looking for sponsors, so if you or someone you know has that kind of cashola, point them in that direction.

And now we return you back to your regularly scheduled blog reading…