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Create a Python Module

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Sometime formal programming documentation is less than clear. At least, it’s less than clear until you’ve written your first solution. The Modules section of the Python language is one of those that takes a few moments to digest.

Chapters 22 and 23 in Learning Python gives some additional details but not a clear step-by-step approach to implementing Python modules. This post is designed to present the steps to write, import, and call a Python module. I figured that it would be helpful to write one for my students, and posting it in the blog seemed like the best idea.

I wrote the module to parse an Oracle version string into what we’d commonly expect to see, like the release number, an “R”, a release version, and then the full version number. The module name is more or less equivalent to a package name, and the file name is effectively the module name. The file name is strVersionOracle.py, which makes the strVersionOracle the module name.

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# Parse and format Oracle version.
def formatVersion(s):
 
  # Split string into collection.
  list = s.split(".")
 
  # Iterate through the result set.
  for i, l in enumerate(list):
    if i == 0 and list[i] == "11":
      label = str(l) + "g"
    elif i == 0 and list[i] == "12":
      label = label + str(l) + "c"
    elif i == 1:
      label = label + "R" + list[i] + " (" + s + ")"
 
  # Return the formatted string.
  return label

You can put this in any directory as long as you add it to the Python path. There are two Python paths to maintain. One is in the file system and the other is in Python’s interactive IDLE environment. You can check the contents of the IDLE path with the following interactive commands:

import sys
print sys.path

It prints the following:

['', '/usr/lib64/python27.zip', '/usr/lib64/python2.7', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/plat-linux2', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/lib-tk', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/lib-old', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/lib-dynload', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages', '/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/gtk-2.0', '/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages']

You can append to the IDLE path using the following command:

sys.path.append("/home/student/Code/python")

After putting the module in the runtime path, you can test the code in the IDLE environment:

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import cx_Oracle
db = cx_Oracle.connect("student/student@xe")
print strVersionOracle.formatVersion(db.version)

Line 3 prints the result by calling the formatVersion function inside the strVersionOracle module. It prints the following:

11gR2 (11.2.0.2.0)

You can test the program outside of the runtime environment with the following oracleConnection.py file. It runs

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# Import the Oracle library.
import cx_Oracle
import strVersionOracle
 
try:
  # Create a connection.
  db = cx_Oracle.connect("student/student@xe")
 
  # Print a message.
  print "Connected to the Oracle " + strVersionOracle.formatVersion(db.version) + " database."
 
except cx_Oracle.DatabaseError, e:
  error, = e.args
  print >> sys.stderr, "Oracle-Error-Code:", error.code
  print >> sys.stderr, "Oracle-Error-Message:", error.message
 
finally:
  # Close connection. 
  db.close()

You can call the formatVersion() function rather than a combination of module and function names when you write a more qualified import statement on line 3, like:

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from strVersionOracle import formatVersion

Then, you can call the formatVersion() function like this on line 10:

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  print "Connected to the Oracle " + formatVersion(db.version) + " database."

It works because you told it to import a function from a Python module. The first example imports a module that may contain one to many functions, and that style requires you to qualify the location of functions inside imported modules.

The oracleConnection.py program works when you call it from the Bash shell provided you do so from the same directory where the oracleConnection.py and strVersionOracle.py files (or Python modules) are located. If you call the oracleConnection.py file from a different directory, the reference to the library raises the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "oracleConnection.py", line 3, in <module>
    import strVersionOracle
ImportError: No module named strVersionOracle

You can fix this error by adding the directory where the strVersionOracle.py file exists, like

export set PYTHONPATH=/home/student/Code/python

Then, you can call successfully the oracleConnection.py file from any directory:

python oracleConnection.py

The program will connect to the Oracle database as the student user, and print the following message to the console:

Connected to the Oracle 11gR2 (11.2.0.2.0) database.

I hope this helps those trying to create and use Python modules.

Written by maclochlainn

October 19th, 2016 at 11:50 pm

Python for loops

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It’s always interesting to explain a new programming language to students. Python does presents some challenges to that learning process. I think for-loops can be a bit of a challenge until you understand them. Many students are most familiar with the traditional for loop like Java:

for (i = 0; i < 5; i++) { ... }

Python supports three types of for-loops – a range for loop, a for-each expression, and a for-loop with enumeration. Below are examples of each of these loops.

  1. A range for-loop goes from a low numerical value to a high numerical value, like:
  2. for i in range(0,3):
      print i

    It prints the following range values:

    0
    1
    2
  1. A for-each loop goes from the first to the last item while ignoring indexes, like:
  2. list = ['a','b','c']
    for i in list:
      print i

    It prints the following elements of the list:

    a
    b
    c
  1. A for-loop with enumeration goes from the first to the last item while ignoring indexes, like:
  2. list = ['a','b','c']
      for i, e in enumerate(list):
        print "[" + str(i) + "][" + list[i] + "]"

    The i represents the index values and the e represents the elements of a list. The str() function casts the numeric value to a string.

    It prints the following:

    [0][a]
    [1][b]
    [2][c]

This should help my students and I hope it helps you if you’re trying to sort out how to use for loops in Python.

Written by maclochlainn

October 19th, 2016 at 9:02 pm

MySQLdb Manage Columns

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Sometimes trying to keep a post short and to the point raises other questions. Clearly, my Python-MySQL Program post over the weekend did raise a question. They were extending the query example and encountered this error:

TypeError: range() integer end argument expected, got tuple.

That should be a straight forward error message because of two things. First, the Python built-in range() function manages a range of numbers. Second, the row returned from a cursor is actually a tuple (from relational algebra), and it may contain non-numeric data like strings and dates.

The reader was trying to dynamically navigate the number of columns in a row by using the range() function like this (where row was a row from the cursor or result set):

    for j in range(row):

Naturally, it threw the type mismatch error noted above. As promised, the following Python program fixes that problem. It also builds on the prior example by navigatung an unknown list of columns. Lines 16 through 31 contain the verbose comments and programming logic to dynamically navigate the columns of a row.

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#!/usr/bin/python
 
# Import sys library.
import MySQLdb
import sys
 
try:
  # Create new database connection.
  db = MySQLdb.connect('localhost','student','student','studentdb')
  # Create a result set cursor.
  rs = db.cursor()
  rs.execute("SELECT item_title, item_subtitle, item_rating FROM item")
  # Assign the query results to a local variable.
  for i in range(rs.rowcount):
    row = rs.fetchone()
    # Initialize variable for printing row as a string.
    data = ""
    # Address an indefinite number of columns.
    count = 0
    for j in range(len(row)):
      # Initialize column value as an empty string.
      datum = ""
      # Replace column values when they exist.
      if str(row[count]) != 'None':
        datum = str(row[count])
      # Append a comma when another column follows.
      if count == len(row) - 1:
        data += datum
      else:
        data += datum + ", "
      count += 1
    # Print the formatted row as a string.
    print data
except MySQLdb.Error, e:
  # Print the error.
  print "ERROR %d: %s" % (e.args[0], e.args[1])
  sys.exit(1)
finally:
  # Close the connection when it is open.
  if db:
    db.close()

There are a couple Python programming techniques that could be perceived as tricks. Line 24 checks for a not null value by explicitly casting the column’s value to a string and then comparing its value against the string equivalent for a null. The MySQLdb returns a 'None' string for null values by default. The if-block on lines 27 through 30 ensure commas aren’t appended at the end of a row.

While the for-loop with a range works, I’d recommend you write it as a while-loop because its easier to read for most new Python programmers. You only need to replace line 20 with the following to make the change:

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    while (count < len(row)):

Either approach generates output like:

The Hunt for Red October, Special Collectornulls Edition, PG
Star Wars I, Phantom Menace, PG
Star Wars II, Attack of the Clones, PG
Star Wars II, Attack of the Clones, PG
Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith, PG-13
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, PG
RoboCop, , Mature
Pirates of the Caribbean, , Teen
The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Everyone
MarioKart, Double Dash, Everyone
Splinter Cell, Chaos Theory, Teen
Need for Speed, Most Wanted, Everyone
The DaVinci Code, , Teen
Cars, , Everyone
Beau Geste, , PG
I Remember Mama, , NR
Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Attack on Pearl Harbor, G
A Man for All Seasons, , G
Hook, , PG
Around the World in 80 Days, , G
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, , PG
Camelot, , G

As always, I hope this helps those looking for clarity.

Written by maclochlainn

April 13th, 2015 at 10:05 pm