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Pyrage: Generic Exceptions

tyler@linux.com published on 17 December 2009

Earlier while talking to Ryan I decided I'd try to coin the term "pyrage" referring to some frustrations I was having with some Python packages. The notion of "pyrage" can extend to anything from a constant irritation to a pure "WTF were you thinking!" kind of moment.

Not one to pass up a good opportunity to bitch publicly, I'll elaborate on some of my favorite sources of "pyrage", starting with generic exceptions. While at Slide, one of the better practices I picked up from Dave was the use of specifically typed exceptions to specific errors. In effect: class Connection(object): ## Pretend this object has "stuff" pass

class InvalidConnectionError(Exception):
    pass
class ConnectionConfigurationError(Exception):
    pass

def configureConnection(conn):
    if not isinstance(conn, Connection):
        raise InvalidConnectionError('configureConnection requires a Connection object')
    if conn.connected:
        raise ConnectionConfigurationError('Connection (%s) is already connected' % conn)
    ## etc </code>

Django, for example, is pretty stacked with generic exceptions, using builtin exceptions like ValueError and AttributeError for a myriad of different kinds of exceptions. urllib2's HTTPError is good example as well, overloading a large number of HTTP errors into one exception leaving a developer to catch them all, and check the code, a la: try: urllib2.urlopen('http://some/url') except urllib2.HTTPError, e: if e.code == 503: ## Handle 503's special pass else: raise

Argh. pyrage!