Python Syntax

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Python Syntax

A good resource is the Think Python book:

Get the Python Path

Start the Python interpreter. Then type:

>>> import sys
>>> print sys.path

Python Program Structure

Python is different from C# in that offers both stand alone functions and methods in a class.

Here is a standalone function in a simple, but complete, Python program:

def foo():
  print "bar bar"


This program prints out: bar bar

And here is program with a class:

class MyClass(object): 

    def __init__(self):
        print "Constructor called"
my_class = MyClass()

This program prints out Constructor called.

For Loops

For loops in Python often use range, which can return a range of numbers from some starting point to an ending point. It looks like this:

for number in range(1, 4):
    print number    

The code shown above prints out the following:


I know, it can't possibly be right, or at least it looks strange. But the principle is simple enough, and I don't see why it is necessarily more difficult than writing the standard for loop used by the C based languages:

 for (i = 1; i < 4; i++). 

In this next example we work with an array of letters:

letters = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'f', 'g']
for letter in letters:
    print letter

The loop shown above prints out:


Overall, looping in Python is quite simple once you get a feel for it.

If Statements

The syntax for if statemtns involves the keywords if,elif,**and **else. Don't forget the colon at the end of each line that uses a keyword:

letters = ['a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'f', 'g']
for letter in letters:
    if letter == 'a':
        print 'eh?'
    elif letter == 'b':
        print 'buzz'
        print letter

The shown above produces this output:


Default Parameters

Python supports default parameters. As a result, it is possible to omit parameters when calling a method. The missing arguments are set to default values.

Consider this simple Python program, which defines a method that takes three parameters, each of which is given a default value:

def bar(one=1, two=2, three=3):   print one   print two   print three

It's output looks like this:


As you can see, we call bar, passing in zero parameters, so the defaults are used in place of the missing arguments.

Consider this version of the same program:

def bar(one=1, two=2, three=3):  print one  print two  print threebar(4, 5)

If produces this output:




As you can see, the first two parameters are set to the arguments we passed in, and the third takes a default value.

And finally, consider this example:

def foo(one, two, three):
    print one
    print two
    print three

When run, this program produces the following output:

Traceback (most recent call last):File 
"J:\Source\PythonParams\src\params\", line 19, in <module>foo()
TypeError: foo() takes exactly 3 arguments (0 given)

File IO

Here are some examples of reading and writing files. For a few examples of how to call an earlier version of this file, see the UnitTests section.

import os
import csv

class SimpleFile(object):
    def __init__(self, fileName):
        self.fileName = fileName
    def write_new_text_file(self, textToWrite):
        f = open(self.fileName, 'w')
    def append_text(self, textToWrite):
        f = open(self.fileName, 'a')
    def read_text(self):
        f = open(self.fileName, 'r')
        read =
        return read
    def delete_file(self):

    def write_csv(self, param1, param2, param3):
        f = open(self.fileName, 'a')
        data = param1 + "," + param2 + "," + param3 + "\n";
    def write_csv_row(self, row):
        f = csv.writer(open(self.fileName, 'ab'))
    def read_csv_row(self):
        f = csv.reader(open(self.fileName, 'rb'))        
        data = []
        for row in f:
            data += row
        return data
    def read_csv_row_number(self, row_number):
        f = csv.reader(open(self.fileName, 'rb'))
        count = 0        
        for row in f:
            if count == row_number:
                return row
            count += 1
    def read_csv_get_item(self, row_num, item_num):
        f = csv.reader(open(self.fileName, 'rb'))
        count = 0
        for row in f:
            if count == row_num:
                return row[item_num]
            count += 1


Below is a simple program that first creates a dictionary, and then retrieves both of the values from it:

myDictionary = { "one": 1, "two": 2}
print myDictionary["one"]
print myDictionary["two"]

The output from this program looks like this:


A Python dictionary works the same way as a physical dictionary used to define words. We pass in a key such as "one" or "two" and we get back a value/definition for that key, which in this case are the values 1 and 2.

Dictionaries are quite flexible:

class TestField(object):
    def __init__(self, value):
        self.value = value
field = TestField(3)
myDictionary = { "one": field }

print myDictionary["one"].value

In this example we declare a class called TestField. We then create an instance of the class, setting its value field to the 3. We then make this class the value part of a dictionary's key/value pair. Finally, we print out the value of the key "one", which is 3. The simplest way to understand this code is to copy the code into a Python script and run it.

Here is an alternative syntax for the previous example:

class TestField(object):
    def __init__(self, value):
        self.value = value
myDictionary = { "bar": TestField(4), "foo": TestField(5) }

for item in myDictionary:
    print item + "=" + str(myDictionary[item].value)

The output from this last program looks like this:


Explicitly use the dict type that underlies a dictionary:

tuples = [('table', 'flat board with four legs'), ('plate', 'round ceramic object')]
myDictionary = dict(tuples)
for item in myDictionary:
    print item + "=" + myDictionary[item]   

This prints out:

table=flat board with four legs
plate=round ceramic object


If you get the error "instance has no call method," that usually means you are trying to call something like can object, a file, or a dictionary, that is not executable, that is not a method, and hence can't be called. For instance, someone might write:

run_chords = RunChords()run_chords().runChords()

This code makes no sense, since in the second line there is an attempt to call an object, and objects are not methods or functions, and hence can't be called. This is what the developer intended to write:

run_chords = RunChords()run_chords.runChords()

You might get the error "module object not callable." This means you are trying to call a module, trying to execute a source, file, which of course makes no sense.

I had a file with these contents:

class Mod01():    def __init__(self):        print "Mod01"

To call it from I write this:

import Mod01
class Mod02():     def __init__(self):         print "Mod02"mod_01 = Mod01.Mod01() 

If I change the last line to look like this, then I get the "module object not callable error:

mod_01 = Mod01() // Module object not callable

Sometimes you will get a message like X is not subscriptable. This means you are trying to treat something that is not a list (array) as if it were a list:

return self.form.has_key["rain"]
TypeError: 'instancemethod' object is not subscriptable

You probably meant to write something like this:

return self.form.has_key("rain")


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