On Python 3, Flake8 and mypy

This is a small post just to write about what we use at work and what I'm starting to use at home too for personal experiments. I thought would be interesting to share as at least two friends showed interest about the topic.

First, we're using Python 3.6. I've been using Python for around a year and a half only, and I have almost fully skipped python 2.x, so I am not biased with the "2 is better, don't migrate to 3!" war. I just like a lot all the new features and the way better encoding handling so my ignorance makes me not understand why would people keep with an old and worse version... ¯\(ツ)

Then, we use flake8 as our linter, with every restriction on except the line size rule (which we've upped to a more reasonable 120 characters). But as some people have tendency to drift away from coding standards, to make sure everybody follows it my colleages have setup an integration test that uses flake8.api.legacy to run the checks and make sure there are no violations. It can look silly sometimes, but helps a lot to maintain a uniform codebase.

And finally, again thanks to my colleages we're doing typed Python using mypy. It adds optional type checking both to Python 2 and 3 and provides a linter-check call which reports any error (so can be actually made mandatory). Added to the same battery than the normal linter test, it means all new code must be fully typed or you won't be able to push a build. It is quite robust and you have typing hints for everything, from basic types to optional parameters, callable function handlers, generics and multiple return values (Union type, you still need to specify to it which values are allowed). It stings a bit when you begin using it but after a while it's so nice to forget about weak typing errors (one of my main complaints of scripted languages).

I highly recommend you to watch this PyCon 2017 talk of the creators of mypy to both see it in action and learn about its internals:

All of this combined with some decent tests (kind-of-TDD-without-being-always-strict) means I can do non-trivial changes and refactors without worrying of breaking unexpected things. If you do python, you should try too, the absence of fear makes you feel really nice.

The truth

Oh, and just in case you want to check it out, I keep a small gist where I from time to time write notes and miscellaneous things regarding Python that I learn and wish to keep for the future.

As a tiny sample, I wrote a Python implementation of a double linked list that you can check at my GitHub. It has both flake8 and mypy "linter tests" that check the code for errors or missing typings. Sadly, variable type hinting is only available from Python 3.6 onwards so I've used comment annotations at two places I needed to, as I'm for now using Python 3.5.

And finally, if your IDE is Sublime Text as it is mine, I wrote a post about installing a few linters on the application to directly code clean and best-practices approved Python.

UPDATE #1: Added Youtube talk video.

UPDATE #2: Added my double linked list example.

UPDATE #3: Added link to my post about Sublime Text Python linters.

Posted by Kartones on 2017-06-20

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