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Title: iter() documentation code doesn't work
Type: behavior Stage: needs patch
Components: Documentation Versions: Python 3.3, Python 3.4, Python 2.7
Status: closed Resolution: fixed
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: rhettinger Nosy List: docs@python, louiscipher, mgrazebrook, purplezephyr, rhettinger, terry.reedy
Priority: low Keywords: patch

Created on 2011-02-09 20:40 by mgrazebrook, last changed 2022-04-11 14:57 by admin. This issue is now closed.

File name Uploaded Description Edit
issue11163.py33.patch louiscipher, 2011-05-05 20:00 review
Messages (7)
msg128238 - (view) Author: Michael Grazebrook (mgrazebrook) Date: 2011-02-09 20:40
This code fragment from the documentation of iter() doesn't work as intended. Change "STOP" to "STOP\n". Maybe also check for EOF as it hangs.

with open("mydata.txt") as fp:
    for line in iter(fp.readline, "STOP"):

Or maybe this makes a better example because it's clearer wha'ts going on:

square_generator = (i * i for i in range(100000))
for n in iter(, 144):
    print n
msg135238 - (view) Author: Bryce Verdier (louiscipher) Date: 2011-05-05 20:00
Here is the patch to fix the documentation. Asked some core developers off the bug tracker how to handle this bug in relation to the bigger issue regarding "STOP" leading to an infinite loop.
msg135241 - (view) Author: Terry J. Reedy (terry.reedy) * (Python committer) Date: 2011-05-05 20:37
I think this is the wrong patch for reasons given below.
The example should be replaced instead.

Readline is documented as returning '' at EOF for text files.
Iter(func,sentinel) is documented as calling func until sentinel is returned. If that never happens, it never stops. That makes it dangerous unless one KNOWS for sure that the sentinel WILL be returned or is willing to continue indefinitely. I think a sentence should be added to the doc to warn about this.

So I consider the premise of the example, "One useful application of the second form of iter() is to read lines of a file until a certain line is reached.", to be somewhat dubious. The example could be considered instead to be an example of when NOT to use the second form. This application should better be written to avoid a possible infinite loop as

with open(name) as fp:
  for line in fp:
    if line == sentinel:

I think a better example would be (3.2 version, use raw_input for 2.7):

def my_input():
    return input("Enter data or return to stop: ")
for data in iter(my_input, ''):

Your alternative also works, but the above is something one might actually do. Even that is hardly much better than:

while True:
  data = input("Enter data or return to stop}
  if not data: break
  process data
msg135246 - (view) Author: Raymond Hettinger (rhettinger) * (Python committer) Date: 2011-05-05 21:00
I'll replace this with a better example using binary chunked reads that terminate with an empty string.
msg139124 - (view) Author: Michael Grazebrook (mgrazebrook) Date: 2011-06-25 22:19
Thank you.

On 25/06/2011 13:38, Raymond Hettinger wrote:
> Changes by Raymond Hettinger<>:
> ----------
> resolution:  ->  fixed
> status: open ->  closed
> _______________________________________
> Python tracker<>
> <>
> _______________________________________
> -----
> No virus found in this message.
> Checked by AVG -
> Version: 10.0.1388 / Virus Database: 1513/3725 - Release Date: 06/25/11
msg197500 - (view) Author: (purplezephyr) Date: 2013-09-11 18:03
This does not seem to have been changed in any version, per msg135246.  If it's not going to be replaced, there's another issue, which is that the link to readline() in the text is incorrect - it goes to the readline module, not file.readline().
msg197505 - (view) Author: Terry J. Reedy (terry.reedy) * (Python committer) Date: 2013-09-11 19:47
In the current 3.3.2 docs, 'STOP' has been replaced by '', so there is a change, and no infinite loop. However, this is still does not strike me as an example of 'useful' as 
  for line in iter(fp.readline, "STOP"): # is a bad version of
  for line in fp:
It does illustrate the behavior though.
Date User Action Args
2022-04-11 14:57:12adminsetgithub: 55372
2013-09-11 19:47:47terry.reedysetstage: needs patch
messages: + msg197505
versions: + Python 3.4, - Python 3.1, Python 3.2
2013-09-11 18:03:41purplezephyrsetnosy: + purplezephyr
messages: + msg197500
2011-06-25 22:19:25mgrazebrooksetmessages: + msg139124
2011-06-25 12:38:57rhettingersetstatus: open -> closed
resolution: fixed
2011-05-05 21:00:40rhettingersetpriority: normal -> low

messages: + msg135246
2011-05-05 20:58:58rhettingersetassignee: docs@python -> rhettinger
2011-05-05 20:37:24terry.reedysetversions: + Python 3.1, Python 2.7, Python 3.2, Python 3.3, - Python 2.6
2011-05-05 20:37:11terry.reedysetnosy: + terry.reedy
messages: + msg135241
2011-05-05 20:00:11louisciphersetfiles: + issue11163.py33.patch

nosy: + louiscipher
messages: + msg135238

keywords: + patch
2011-02-09 23:06:09pitrousetnosy: + rhettinger
2011-02-09 20:40:44mgrazebrookcreate