It’s Python quiz time. You have finally finished our current tutorials for Python. No worries, more tutorials are still being developed, but for now, we have to rest. I would first like to congratulate you on working through those tutorials. Your dedication to learning a new language like Python is impressive, but you might be wondering exactly what you learned or how well you paid attention. That is precisely why we have crafted a quiz. The questions that compose this quiz are designed to test if you understand the basics of Python, but it will not quiz advanced topics. However, this quiz is probably the beginning of a series of quizzes for each tutorial category.
Currently, we only have a standard quiz that is not intended to be a professional test. There is a possibility to integrate a testing system into After Hours Programming, but we are not actively working towards that goal at the moment. For now, we have created a simple quiz to check your understanding of Python. Good luck and I hope you enjoyed our Python tutorial. Please contact us if you would like more Python tutorials.
In any programming, including Python, exceptions and error handling often becomes a necessity when you are dealing with a considerable amount of variables. When, I say variables I do not mean variables as a placeholder, but variables as in you are using file system processes (like reading a file), dealing with external input, etc. Sometimes, you just do not know what will be thrown at your code. So you being little genius, you plan ahead and use exceptions and error handling where appropriate. Typically, the goal is to execute the code as intended, but if an exception occurs, we would prefer Python not to spit out its own exceptions. Instead, we would like to inform the user what went wrong using our wording and possibly how they can maneuver around the obstacle.
Exceptions vs Errors
I know I keep babbling about exceptions and errors, but what in the heck are they and how are they different you might ask. Well, exceptions generally deal with small little issues that you would probably like to handle. For example, maybe you do not exactly know the type of the variable, but you would definitely like to do something with it. The differences in doing things with numbers and strings are pretty different. So, you might set up something like this:
Awesome! We totally caught the exception that python gave us. We simply put the code we wanted to execute under the try block. However, if an exception occurred (adding a string to and integer is an exception) we told Python to do everything in the except block.
So, what are errors? Bad news, that’s what they are. You normally do not want to handle errors, unless you are doing some dangerous things. When an error is generated, it typically means Python is blowing up the ship, Obviously, if the ship is blown up, we should jump ship and get out of the program.
Also, you might have noticed that the print() takes two arguments in this example. Well, it can take as many arguments as you want to give it. print() will keep on printing all of your arguments with a space in between them.
Elegant Error Handling
Let’s face it our try/except above, doesn’t do a whole lot for the usability of the program. Basically, if it messes up it just tells our users what is wrong. What is the point in that? We should attempt to handle our exceptions in a manner that helps the program to keep moving on. A better alternative would be something like this:
Ah, much better. In this example, we use our simple except to catch an exception. But, if you run the example, you will see something much more awesome happening. We actually catch the exception, and tell python, “Well, try casting it to an integer before adding”, where Python faithfully obeys. As the end result, Python prints out the number 2 and the user is none the wiser that the program had a small hiccup.
The Python tutorial is constructed to teach you the fundamentals of the Python programming language. Eventually, the Python Tutorial will explain how to construct web applications, but currently, you will learn the basics of Python offline. Python can work on the Server Side (on the server hosting the website) or on your computer.
However, Python is not strictly a web programming language. That is to say, a lot of Python programs are never intended to be used online. In this Python tutorial, we will just cover the fundamentals of Python and not the distinction of the two.
Python works much like the two previous categories, PHP and ColdFusion as they are all server side programming languages. You will see from the Python tutorials that it’s syntax is extremely different than the other two. It is probably the most clean and straightforward language you will ever learn.
Just like the other languages, Python is useful because it can dynamically generate content to provide a more customized user experience. Generally, Python is a great starting language for most people, but to others, it is extremely frustrating (primarily due to spacing issues), which is why I have put the Python Tutorial at the end of the server side languages.
In Python, tuples are almost identical to lists. So, why should we use them you ask? The one main difference between tuples and lists are that tuples cannot be changed. That is to say you cannot add, change, or delete elements from the tuple. Tuples might seem odd at first, but there is a great reason behind them being immutable. As programmers, we mess up occasionally. We change variables that we didn’t want to change, and sometimes, well, we just want things to be constant so we don’t accidentally change them later. However, if we change our minds we can also convert tuples into lists or lists into tuples. The fact is we need to make the conscious effort to say Python, I want to change this tuple into a list so I can modify it. Enough babbling, let’s see a tuple in action!
List vs. Tuple
So, we see that the list clearly works as expected. We just append a 4 onto the end, and Python doesn’t miss a beat. Next, we test out our tuple declaration and it works as well. But when we try to append to the tuple, Python give us a nasty little error. Like I said, you cannot change a tuple! Python will bite you if you try using things like append on a tuple. But, let’s say “Hey, I really want to add a four to that tuple.” Let’s do it:
Boom! We have successfully undone what Python was trying to teach us not to do. We just casted the tuple into a list, then once it was a list, we used it’s append method to add the 4. It should be reiterated that the purpose of a tuple is to be immutable. If you are planning to change the variable, just use a list instead.
First, off Python usually requires some setup by downloading the Python IDLE. The Python IDLE is basically a text editor that lets you execute Python code. If you want to use Python as a server-side language, you certainly can. Python can output HTML just like other languages can, but Python is more commonly used as a module rather than intertwined like some PHP or ColdFusion. As for right now, I recommend you download the IDLE to help you debug your code while we learn the fundamentals offline. One really quick note, we are using python 3.2. Before we go to an example, please understand that Python is space sensitive. This means you must have 4 spaces for each indentation every single time. We’ll get into this more later, now let’s go to an example.
You can see right off the bat, that we use print() a whole lot. Basically, all it does is output whatever is inside the parentheses. You will be doing lots of printing so, you can get more comfortable with it as we go. Print is a function that we will go into later, but just understand that it can take a value. On the first line, we provide a string value “My first Python code!”, which is a string because of the quotes. So, you just told Python to output that string to the console. Python completes that task and moves onto the next line where it prints out a different string.
See how simple that was? Well, get used to it. Python is probably one of the simplest looking languages that can do some of the most powerful things you can imagine. You can see from the example how clean Python’s syntax is without all of the extra stuff that other languages add. That covers the easiest Python statement you will ever write. In the following sections, we will be using more advanced functions and teaching you the fundamentals of Python.