Perhaps someone who knows more about the internals of python and the recent changes in 2.6 and 2.7 can explain this question that came up today in a code review.

I suggest using with instead of try: ... finally: to close a file that was written to. Instead of this:

dest = file('foo', 'w')
try:
   dest.write('stuff')
finally:
   dest.close()
print open('foo').read()  # will print 'stuff'

We can use this:

with file('foo', 'w') as dest: 
    dest.write('stuff')
print open('foo').read()  # will print 'stuff'

Why does that work? I'm guessing it's because the file() instance object has a built in __exit__ method. Is that right?

That means I don't need to use contextlib.closing(thing) right?

For example, suppose you have this class:

class Farm(object):
   def __enter__(self):
       print "Entering"
       return self
   def __exit__(self, err_type, err_val, err_tb):
       print "Exiting", err_type
       self.close()
   def close(self):
       print "Closing"

with Farm() as farm:
   pass
# this will print:
#   Entering
#   Exiting None
#   Closing

Another way to achieve the same specific result would be to use the closing() decrorator:

class Farm(object):
   def close(self):
       print "Closing"

from contextlib import closing
with closing(Farm()) as farm:
   pass
# this will print:
#   Closing

So the closing() decorator "steals" the __enter__ and __exit__. This last one can be handy if you do this:

from contextlib import closing
with closing(Farm()) as farm:
   raise ValueError

# this will print
#  Closing
#  Traceback (most recent call last):
#   File "dummy.py", line 16, in <module>
#     raise ValueError
#  ValueError

This is turning into my own loud thinking and I think I get it now. contextlib.closing() basically makes it possible to do what I did there with the __enter__ and __exit__ and it seems the file() built-in has a exit handler that takes care of the closing already so you don't have to do it with any extra decorators.

Nick Coghlan - 03 December 2011 [«« Reply to this]
Correct, contextlib.closing() is just an adapter that maps the context management protocol (i.e. __enter__/__exit__) to any object with a close() method. It's most useful when you can't readily alter the original definition of the objects involved.

If an object already supports the context management protocol directly (which includes most* file-like objects in the standard library), then you don't need the adapter.

(*if we've missed any, then feature requests to fix that are usually looked on quite favourably)
Marcin Jaworski - 27 March 2012 [«« Reply to this]
You can also do the same with locks as Lock class also implements context management protocol (it acquires lock on __enter__ and releases it on __exit__)

from threading import Lock
lock = Lock()
def somefunc():
....with lock:
........do_something_within_lock()

(sorry, I had to use dots instead of spaces to indent code because I don't know how to mark it as a code in comment here)

You can always be sure, that the code inside __exit__ method will always be invoked (just like with try-except-finally).


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