Until now error messages haven't been more than mentioned, but if you have tried out the examples you have probably seen some. There are (at least) two distinguishable kinds of errors: syntax errors and exceptions.
Syntax errors, also known as parsing errors, are perhaps the most common kind of complaint you get while you are still learning Python:
>>> while True print 'Hello world' File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? while True print 'Hello world' ^ SyntaxError: invalid syntax
The parser repeats the offending line and displays a little `arrow' pointing at the earliest point in the line where the error was detected. The error is caused by (or at least detected at) the token preceding the arrow: in the example, the error is detected at the keyword print, since a colon (":") is missing before it. File name and line number are printed so you know where to look in case the input came from a script.
Even if a statement or expression is syntactically correct, it may cause an error when an attempt is made to execute it. Errors detected during execution are called exceptions and are not unconditionally fatal: you will soon learn how to handle them in Python programs. Most exceptions are not handled by programs, however, and result in error messages as shown here:
>>> 10 * (1/0) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo by zero >>> 4 + spam*3 Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? NameError: name 'spam' is not defined >>> '2' + 2 Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? TypeError: cannot concatenate 'str' and 'int' objects
The last line of the error message indicates what happened. Exceptions come in different types, and the type is printed as part of the message: the types in the example are ZeroDivisionError, NameError and TypeError. The string printed as the exception type is the name of the built-in exception that occurred. This is true for all built-in exceptions, but need not be true for user-defined exceptions (although it is a useful convention). Standard exception names are built-in identifiers (not reserved keywords).
The rest of the line provides detail based on the type of exception and what caused it.
The preceding part of the error message shows the context where the exception happened, in the form of a stack backtrace. In general it contains a stack backtrace listing source lines; however, it will not display lines read from standard input.
The Python Library Reference lists the built-in exceptions and their meanings.
It is possible to write programs that handle selected exceptions. Look at the following example, which asks the user for input until a valid integer has been entered, but allows the user to interrupt the program (using Control-C or whatever the operating system supports); note that a user-generated interruption is signalled by raising the KeyboardInterrupt exception.
>>> while True: ... try: ... x = int(raw_input("Please enter a number: ")) ... break ... except ValueError: ... print "Oops! That was no valid number. Try again..." ...
The try statement works as follows.
A try statement may have more than one except clause, to specify handlers for different exceptions. At most one handler will be executed. Handlers only handle exceptions that occur in the corresponding try clause, not in other handlers of the same try statement. An except clause may name multiple exceptions as a parenthesized list, for example:
... except (RuntimeError, TypeError, NameError): ... pass
The last except clause may omit the exception name(s), to serve as a wildcard. Use this with extreme caution, since it is easy to mask a real programming error in this way! It can also be used to print an error message and then re-raise the exception (allowing a caller to handle the exception as well):
import sys try: f = open('myfile.txt') s = f.readline() i = int(s.strip()) except IOError, (errno, strerror): print "I/O error(%s): %s" % (errno, strerror) except ValueError: print "Could not convert data to an integer." except: print "Unexpected error:", sys.exc_info() raise
The try ... except statement has an optional else clause, which, when present, must follow all except clauses. It is useful for code that must be executed if the try clause does not raise an exception. For example:
for arg in sys.argv[1:]: try: f = open(arg, 'r') except IOError: print 'cannot open', arg else: print arg, 'has', len(f.readlines()), 'lines' f.close()
The use of the else clause is better than adding additional code to the try clause because it avoids accidentally catching an exception that wasn't raised by the code being protected by the try ... except statement.
When an exception occurs, it may have an associated value, also known as the exception's argument. The presence and type of the argument depend on the exception type.
The except clause may specify a variable after the exception name (or list).
The variable is bound to an exception instance with the arguments stored
instance.args. For convenience, the exception instance
defines __getitem__ and __str__ so the arguments can
be accessed or printed directly without having to reference
>>> try: ... raise Exception('spam', 'eggs') ... except Exception, inst: ... print type(inst) # the exception instance ... print inst.args # arguments stored in .args ... print inst # __str__ allows args to printed directly ... x, y = inst # __getitem__ allows args to be unpacked directly ... print 'x =', x ... print 'y =', y ... <type 'instance'> ('spam', 'eggs') ('spam', 'eggs') x = spam y = eggs
If an exception has an argument, it is printed as the last part (`detail') of the message for unhandled exceptions.
Exception handlers don't just handle exceptions if they occur immediately in the try clause, but also if they occur inside functions that are called (even indirectly) in the try clause. For example:
>>> def this_fails(): ... x = 1/0 ... >>> try: ... this_fails() ... except ZeroDivisionError, detail: ... print 'Handling run-time error:', detail ... Handling run-time error: integer division or modulo by zero
The raise statement allows the programmer to force a specified exception to occur. For example:
>>> raise NameError, 'HiThere' Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? NameError: HiThere
The first argument to raise names the exception to be
raised. The optional second argument specifies the exception's
argument. Alternatively, the above could be written as
raise NameError('HiThere'). Either form works fine, but there
seems to be a growing stylistic preference for the latter.
If you need to determine whether an exception was raised but don't intend to handle it, a simpler form of the raise statement allows you to re-raise the exception:
>>> try: ... raise NameError, 'HiThere' ... except NameError: ... print 'An exception flew by!' ... raise ... An exception flew by! Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 2, in ? NameError: HiThere
Programs may name their own exceptions by creating a new exception class. Exceptions should typically be derived from the Exception class, either directly or indirectly. For example:
>>> class MyError(Exception): ... def __init__(self, value): ... self.value = value ... def __str__(self): ... return repr(self.value) ... >>> try: ... raise MyError(2*2) ... except MyError, e: ... print 'My exception occurred, value:', e.value ... My exception occurred, value: 4 >>> raise MyError, 'oops!' Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in ? __main__.MyError: 'oops!'
In this example, the default __init__ of Exception has been overridden. The new behavior simply creates the value attribute. This replaces the default behavior of creating the args attribute.
Exception classes can be defined which do anything any other class can do, but are usually kept simple, often only offering a number of attributes that allow information about the error to be extracted by handlers for the exception. When creating a module that can raise several distinct errors, a common practice is to create a base class for exceptions defined by that module, and subclass that to create specific exception classes for different error conditions:
class Error(Exception): """Base class for exceptions in this module.""" pass class InputError(Error): """Exception raised for errors in the input. Attributes: expression -- input expression in which the error occurred message -- explanation of the error """ def __init__(self, expression, message): self.expression = expression self.message = message class TransitionError(Error): """Raised when an operation attempts a state transition that's not allowed. Attributes: previous -- state at beginning of transition next -- attempted new state message -- explanation of why the specific transition is not allowed """ def __init__(self, previous, next, message): self.previous = previous self.next = next self.message = message
Most exceptions are defined with names that end in ``Error,'' similar to the naming of the standard exceptions.
Many standard modules define their own exceptions to report errors that may occur in functions they define. More information on classes is presented in chapter 9, ``Classes.''
The try statement has another optional clause which is intended to define clean-up actions that must be executed under all circumstances. For example:
>>> try: ... raise KeyboardInterrupt ... finally: ... print 'Goodbye, world!' ... Goodbye, world! Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 2, in ? KeyboardInterrupt
A finally clause is executed whether or not an exception has occurred in the try clause. When an exception has occurred, it is re-raised after the finally clause is executed. The finally clause is also executed ``on the way out'' when the try statement is left via a break or return statement.
The code in the finally clause is useful for releasing external resources (such as files or network connections), regardless of whether or not the use of the resource was successful.
A try statement must either have one or more except clauses or one finally clause, but not both (because it would be unclear which clause should be executed).
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