This section describes the requirements and conventions used to contribute Python programming to the edX platform.
Generally, do not edit files just to change the style. But do aim for this style with new or modified code.
See also Code Quality.
Each class should have a __repr__() method defined, so that calling repr() on an instance of the class returns something meaningful that distinguishes objects from each other to a human being. This is useful for debugging purposes.
Follow PEP 8.
4-space indents (no tabs)
Names like this: modules_and_packages, functions_and_methods, local_variables, GLOBALS, CONSTANTS, MultiWordClasses
Acronyms should count as one word: RobustHtmlParser, not RobustHTMLParser
Trailing commas are good: they prevent having to edit the last line in a list when adding a new last line. You can use them in lists, dicts, function calls, etc.
EXCEPT: we aren’t (yet) limiting code lines to 79 characters. Use 120 as a limit for code. Please use 79 chars as a limit for docstring lines though, so that the text remains readable.
Follow these guidelines:
Try to refactor the code to not need such long lines. This is often the best option, and is often overlooked for some reason. More, shorter lines are good.
If you need to break a function call over more than one line, put a newline after the open paren, and move the arguments to their own line. DO NOT indent everything to where the open paren is. This makes the code too indented, and makes different function calls near each other indented different amounts.
# NO NO NO!:
results = my_object.some_method(arg1, # this is very arg2, # very ugly and makes arg3, # the code squished over on the right. )
results = my_object.some_method( arg1, arg2, arg3, )
results = my_object.some_method( arg1, arg2, arg3 )
Do not over-indent to make things line up with punctuation on the first line.
Closing paren should be on a line by itself, indented the same as the first line.
The first line ends with the open paren.
PEP8 recommends a most-general to most-specific import order, which means this order:
Standard library imports
Third Party Library imports
Alphabetize each group of imports, and use a single blank line to separate groups.
Most Open edX repositories use the isort library, which will automatically order imports to follow PEP8.
For unused args, you can prefix the arguments with an underscore (_) to mark them as unused (as convention), and pylint will accept that.
Adding a TODO in one place requires you to make a pylint fix in another (just to force us to clean up more code).
except: should be
except Exception:, which
will prevent it from catching system-exiting exceptions, which we probably
should not be doing anyway. If we need to, we can catch
(There’s no point in catching
BaseException, that includes the exceptions
we didn’t want to catch with
except: in the first place.) (ref:
Exception, however, will still generate a Pylint warning (“W0703: catching
too general exception.”) If you still feel that catching
justified, silence the pylint warning with a pragma:
# pylint: disable=broad-
Although we try to be vigilant and resolve all quality violations, some Pylint violations are just too challenging to resolve, so we opt to ignore them via use of a pragma. A pragma tells Pylint to ignore the violation in the given line. An example is:
self.assertEquals(msg, form._errors['course_id']) # pylint: disable=protected-access
The pragma starts with a
# two spaces after the end of the line. We
prefer that you use the full name of the error (
argument as opposed to
pylint: disable=W0613), so that it is more clear what
you are disabling in the line.
It’s better to use a class or a
namedtuple to pass around data that has a
fixed shape than to use a
dict. It makes it easier to debug (because there
is a fixed, named set of attributes), and it helps prevent accidental errors
of either setting new attributes into the dictionary (which might, for
instance, get serialized unexpectedly), or might be typos.
Follow PEP 257.
Write docstrings for all modules, classes, and functions.
Always format docstrings using the multi-line convention, even if there’s only one line of content (see below).
Use three double-quotes for all docstrings.
Start with a one-line summary. If you can’t fit a summary onto one line, think harder, or refactor the code.
Write in Sphinx-friendly prose style. Put double backquotes around code names (variables, parameters, methods, etc).
The preferred style is so-called “Google Style” with readable headers for different sections, and all arguments and return values defined.
There is one exception to the preferred style. REST APIs created using Django REST Framework (DRF) must use a hybrid format that is suitable both for DRF and ReadTheDocs. For more information see the edX REST API Conventions.
For additional information see these references.
Here’s how you write documentation in a mostly “Google Style” manner:
def func(arg1, arg2): """ Summary line. Extended description of function. Arguments: arg1 (int): Description of arg1 arg2 (str): Description of arg2 Returns: bool: Description of return value """
There are some exceptions:
The summary line is on the second line, including single-line comments (see below)
Use the full word “Arguments”, although “Args” is also acceptable.
Most of our code is written using an older style:
def calculate_grade(course, student): """ Sum up the grade for a student in a particular course. Navigates the entire course, adding up the student's grades. Note that blah blah blah, and also beware that blah blah blah. `course` is an `EdxCourseThingy`. The student must be registered in the course, or a `NotRegistered` exception will be raised. `student` is an `EdxStudentThingy`. Returns a dict with two keys: `total` is a float, the student's total score, and `outof` is the maximum possible score. """
If you only have a single line in your docstring, first consider that this is almost certainly not enough documentation, and write some more. But if you do have just one line, format it in a similar way to a multi-line docstring:
def foo(a, b): """ Computes the foo of a and b. """
Not like this:
def foo(a, b): """Computes the foo of a and b.""" # NO NO NO
We intentionally stray from PEP 257 in this case. The formatting inconsistency between single and multi-line docstrings can result in merge conflicts when upstream and downstream branches change the same docstring. See this GitHub comment for more context.