Things About Python Functions, Scope, and Best Practices
Update: My collection of notes will always be updated as I learn more things. I’m merely posting as I actively learn. I do not claim to be a Pythonista, I am not an expert.
Advocating for Best Practices
A key quality of an exceptional engineer is consistently writing code that follows best practices. But why is that important? Style guides that contain best practices are basically a set of rules and guidelines that ensures consistency, readability for other humans and efficiency.
The standard that the Python community follows is called PEP-8. My advice, especially when you’re a beginner, is to bookmark this style guide (or the relevant style guide to your programming language/framework) and reference it frequently.
Key tip for early-career developers: The best way to write consistently good code is to always practice and reference standard guides.
Here are just a few of Python’s Best Practices:
|Function & Variable Names||Be explicit with variable & function names||x = “x is a nondescript variable name”|
favorite_food =” This variable name gives us a better hint at what this piece of data is about”
|Indentation||Indentation is an essential concept in Python||Use 4 spaces per indentation level|
|Underscores create more readability||For your descriptive and longer variable and function names, use underscores to make the names more readable||self_care_message()|
|Refrain from using confusing standalone letters as variable or function names; exception is when they have meaning in math||Using the lowercase letter ‘l’, uppercase letter O or uppercase letter I can be confusing. We don’t write code for ourselves, we write for others.||i = 1|
All About Functions
Indentation Matters, Ya’ll
Anatomy of a Function:
- def is how you initalize the function
- Name the function and be as descriptive as you can be (remember if you’re being verbose with the naming, use underscores in between each word for the function name)
- Make an indentation (a tab or 4 spaces) to create your instructions (aka return or print statement)
- Complete and Exit the function by pressing enter
- Call the function by the name you gave it followed by parentheses
Difference between a return statement versus a print statement
A return statement will explicitly return a value.
A print statement will return nothing.
Local and Global Scope
Local scope is when the variables you define within a function can only be accessed in that very function in which you defined it. It won’t be accessible to the global scope (aka rest of the application).
In internal/local scope, the function has access to variables defined within it; has access to variables defined in the global scope (aka rest of application outside that function) but cant change them. Meaning you can’t reassign a global variable within a local function. Functions without proper whitespace leads to an indentation error. In production-level code, don’t have too many global variables outside of a defined scope to prevent confusion and bugs; constants are okay to define outside of a scope
Notes on Arguments
Positional arguments are all required and must be given in the order in which they are declared. Default arguments is kinda like the fallback/default option when you don’t call the last argument when you invoke a function. It is always the last argument in a function.