UNB/ CS/ David Bremner/ teaching/ cs2613/ books/ practical-python/ 03 Program organization/ 01 Script

# 3.1 Scripting

In this part we look more closely at the practice of writing Python scripts.

### What is a Script?

A script is a program that runs a series of statements and stops.

``````# program.py

statement1
statement2
statement3
...
``````

We have mostly been writing scripts to this point.

### A Problem

If you write a useful script, it will grow in features and functionality. You may want to apply it to other related problems. Over time, it might become a critical application. And if you don't take care, it might turn into a huge tangled mess. So, let's get organized.

### Defining Things

Names must always be defined before they get used later.

``````def square(x):
return x*x

a = 42
b = a + 2     # Requires that `a` is defined

z = square(b) # Requires `square` and `b` to be defined
``````

The order is important. You almost always put the definitions of variables and functions near the top.

### Defining Functions

It is a good idea to put all of the code related to a single task all in one place. Use a function.

``````def read_prices(filename):
prices = {}
with open(filename) as f:
for row in f_csv:
prices[row[0]] = float(row[1])
return prices
``````

A function also simplifies repeated operations.

``````oldprices = read_prices('oldprices.csv')
``````

### What is a Function?

A function is a named sequence of statements.

``````def funcname(args):
statement
statement
...
return result
``````

Any Python statement can be used inside.

``````def foo():
import math
print(math.sqrt(2))
help(math)
``````

There are no special statements in Python (which makes it easy to remember).

### Function Definition

Functions can be defined in any order.

``````def foo(x):
bar(x)

def bar(x):
statements

# OR
def bar(x):
statements

def foo(x):
bar(x)
``````

Functions must only be defined prior to actually being used (or called) during program execution.

``````foo(3)        # foo must be defined already
``````

Stylistically, it is probably more common to see functions defined in a bottom-up fashion.

### Bottom-up Style

Functions are treated as building blocks. The smaller/simpler blocks go first.

``````# myprogram.py
def foo(x):
...

def bar(x):
...
foo(x)          # Defined above
...

def spam(x):
...
bar(x)          # Defined above
...

spam(42)            # Code that uses the functions appears at the end
``````

Later functions build upon earlier functions. Again, this is only a point of style. The only thing that matters in the above program is that the call to `spam(42)` go last.

### Function Design

Ideally, functions should be a black box. They should only operate on passed inputs and avoid global variables and mysterious side-effects. Your main goals: Modularity and Predictability.

### Doc Strings

It's good practice to include documentation in the form of a doc-string. Doc-strings are strings written immediately after the name of the function. They feed `help()`, IDEs and other tools.

``````def read_prices(filename):
'''
Read prices from a CSV file of name,price data
'''
prices = {}
with open(filename) as f:
for row in f_csv:
prices[row[0]] = float(row[1])
return prices
``````

A good practice for doc strings is to write a short one sentence summary of what the function does. If more information is needed, include a short example of usage along with a more detailed description of the arguments.

### Type Annotations

You can also add optional type hints to function definitions.

``````def read_prices(filename: str) -> dict:
'''
Read prices from a CSV file of name,price data
'''
prices = {}
with open(filename) as f:
for row in f_csv:
prices[row[0]] = float(row[1])
return prices
``````

The hints do nothing operationally. They are purely informational. However, they may be used by IDEs, code checkers, and other tools to do more.

## Exercises

In section 2, you wrote a program called `report.py` that printed out a report showing the performance of a stock portfolio. This program consisted of some functions. For example:

``````# report.py
import csv

'''
Read a stock portfolio file into a list of dictionaries with keys
name, shares, and price.
'''
portfolio = []
with open(filename) as f:

for row in rows:
stock = {
'name' : record['name'],
'shares' : int(record['shares']),
'price' : float(record['price'])
}
portfolio.append(stock)
return portfolio
...
``````

However, there were also portions of the program that just performed a series of scripted calculations. This code appeared near the end of the program. For example:

``````...

# Output the report

headers = ('Name', 'Shares', 'Price', 'Change')
print('%10s %10s %10s %10s'  % headers)
print(('-' * 10 + ' ') * len(headers))
for row in report:
print('%10s %10d %10.2f %10.2f' % row)
...
``````

In this exercise, we’re going take this program and organize it a little more strongly around the use of functions.

### Exercise 3.1: Structuring a program as a collection of functions

Modify your `report.py` program so that all major operations, including calculations and output, are carried out by a collection of functions. Specifically:

• Create a function `print_report(report)` that prints out the report.
• Change the last part of the program so that it is nothing more than a series of function calls and no other computation.

### Exercise 3.2: Creating a top-level function for program execution

Take the last part of your program and package it into a single function `portfolio_report(portfolio_filename, prices_filename)`. Have the function work so that the following function call creates the report as before:

``````portfolio_report('Data/portfolio.csv', 'Data/prices.csv')
``````

In this final version, your program will be nothing more than a series of function definitions followed by a single function call to `portfolio_report()` at the very end (which executes all of the steps involved in the program).

By turning your program into a single function, it becomes easy to run it on different inputs. For example, try these statements interactively after running your program:

``````>>> portfolio_report('Data/portfolio2.csv', 'Data/prices.csv')
... look at the output ...
>>> files = ['Data/portfolio.csv', 'Data/portfolio2.csv']
>>> for name in files:
print(f'{name:-^43s}')
portfolio_report(name, 'Data/prices.csv')
print()

... look at the output ...
>>>
``````

### Commentary

Python makes it very easy to write relatively unstructured scripting code where you just have a file with a sequence of statements in it. In the big picture, it's almost always better to utilize functions whenever you can. At some point, that script is going to grow and you'll wish you had a bit more organization. Also, a little known fact is that Python runs a bit faster if you use functions.