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PEP: 377
Title: Allow __enter__() methods to skip the statement body
Version: $Revision$
Last-Modified: $Date$
Author: Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan@gmail.com>
Status: Rejected
Type: Standards Track
Content-Type: text/x-rst
Created: 8-Mar-2009
Python-Version: 2.7, 3.1
Post-History: 8-Mar-2009


Abstract
========

This PEP proposes a backwards compatible mechanism that allows ``__enter__()``
methods to skip the body of the associated ``with`` statement. The lack of
this ability currently means the ``contextlib.contextmanager`` decorator
is unable to fulfil its specification of being able to turn arbitrary
code into a context manager by moving it into a generator function
with a yield in the appropriate location. One symptom of this is that
``contextlib.nested`` will currently raise ``RuntimeError`` in
situations where writing out the corresponding nested ``with``
statements would not [1].

The proposed change is to introduce a new flow control exception
``SkipStatement``, and skip the execution of the ``with``
statement body if ``__enter__()`` raises this exception.


PEP Rejection
=============

This PEP was rejected by Guido [2] as it imposes too great an increase
in complexity without a proportional increase in expressiveness and
correctness. In the absence of compelling use cases that need the more
complex semantics proposed by this PEP the existing behaviour is
considered acceptable.


Proposed Change
===============

The semantics of the ``with`` statement will be changed to include a
new ``try``/``except``/``else`` block around the call to ``__enter__()``.
If ``SkipStatement`` is raised by the ``__enter__()`` method, then
the main section of the ``with`` statement (now located in the ``else``
clause) will not be executed. To avoid leaving the names in any ``as``
clause unbound in this case, a new ``StatementSkipped`` singleton
(similar to the existing ``NotImplemented`` singleton) will be
assigned to all names that appear in the ``as`` clause.

The components of the ``with`` statement remain as described in PEP 343 [2]::

    with EXPR as VAR:
        BLOCK

After the modification, the ``with`` statement semantics would
be as follows::

    mgr = (EXPR)
    exit = mgr.__exit__  # Not calling it yet
    try:
        value = mgr.__enter__()
    except SkipStatement:
        VAR = StatementSkipped
        # Only if "as VAR" is present and
        # VAR is a single name
        # If VAR is a tuple of names, then StatementSkipped
        # will be assigned to each name in the tuple
    else:
        exc = True
        try:
            try:
                VAR = value  # Only if "as VAR" is present
                BLOCK
            except:
                # The exceptional case is handled here
                exc = False
                if not exit(*sys.exc_info()):
                    raise
                # The exception is swallowed if exit() returns true
        finally:
            # The normal and non-local-goto cases are handled here
            if exc:
                exit(None, None, None)

With the above change in place for the ``with`` statement semantics,
``contextlib.contextmanager()`` will then be modified to raise
``SkipStatement`` instead of ``RuntimeError`` when the underlying
generator doesn't yield.


Rationale for Change
====================

Currently, some apparently innocuous context managers may raise
``RuntimeError`` when executed. This occurs when the context
manager's ``__enter__()`` method encounters a situation where
the written out version of the code corresponding to the
context manager would skip the code that is now the body
of the ``with`` statement. Since the ``__enter__()`` method
has no mechanism available to signal this to the interpreter,
it is instead forced to raise an exception that not only
skips the body of the ``with`` statement, but also jumps over
all code until the nearest exception handler. This goes against
one of the design goals of the ``with`` statement, which was to
be able to factor out arbitrary common exception handling code
into a single context manager by putting into a generator
function and replacing the variant part of the code with a
``yield`` statement.

Specifically, the following examples behave differently if
``cmB().__enter__()`` raises an exception which ``cmA().__exit__()``
then handles and suppresses::

  with cmA():
    with cmB():
      do_stuff()
  # This will resume here without executing "do_stuff()"

  @contextlib.contextmanager
  def combined():
    with cmA():
      with cmB():
        yield

  with combined():
    do_stuff()
  # This will raise a RuntimeError complaining that the context
  # manager's underlying generator didn't yield

  with contextlib.nested(cmA(), cmB()):
    do_stuff()
  # This will raise the same RuntimeError as the contextmanager()
  # example (unsurprising, given that the nested() implementation
  # uses contextmanager())

  # The following class based version shows that the issue isn't
  # specific to contextlib.contextmanager() (it also shows how
  # much simpler it is to write context managers as generators
  # instead of as classes!)
  class CM(object):
    def __init__(self):
      self.cmA = None
      self.cmB = None

    def __enter__(self):
      if self.cmA is not None:
        raise RuntimeError("Can't re-use this CM")
      self.cmA = cmA()
      self.cmA.__enter__()
      try:
        self.cmB = cmB()
        self.cmB.__enter__()
      except:
        self.cmA.__exit__(*sys.exc_info())
        # Can't suppress in __enter__(), so must raise
        raise

    def __exit__(self, *args):
      suppress = False
      try:
        if self.cmB is not None:
          suppress = self.cmB.__exit__(*args)
      except:
        suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(*sys.exc_info()):
        if not suppress:
          # Exception has changed, so reraise explicitly
          raise
      else:
        if suppress:
          # cmB already suppressed the exception,
          # so don't pass it to cmA
          suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(None, None, None):
        else:
          suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(*args):
      return suppress

With the proposed semantic change in place, the contextlib based examples
above would then "just work", but the class based version would need
a small adjustment to take advantage of the new semantics::

  class CM(object):
    def __init__(self):
      self.cmA = None
      self.cmB = None

    def __enter__(self):
      if self.cmA is not None:
        raise RuntimeError("Can't re-use this CM")
      self.cmA = cmA()
      self.cmA.__enter__()
      try:
        self.cmB = cmB()
        self.cmB.__enter__()
      except:
        if self.cmA.__exit__(*sys.exc_info()):
          # Suppress the exception, but don't run
          # the body of the with statement either
          raise SkipStatement
        raise

    def __exit__(self, *args):
      suppress = False
      try:
        if self.cmB is not None:
          suppress = self.cmB.__exit__(*args)
      except:
        suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(*sys.exc_info()):
        if not suppress:
          # Exception has changed, so reraise explicitly
          raise
      else:
        if suppress:
          # cmB already suppressed the exception,
          # so don't pass it to cmA
          suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(None, None, None):
        else:
          suppress = self.cmA.__exit__(*args):
      return suppress

There is currently a tentative suggestion [3] to add import-style syntax to
the ``with`` statement to allow multiple context managers to be included in
a single ``with`` statement without needing to use ``contextlib.nested``. In
that case the compiler has the option of simply emitting multiple ``with``
statements at the AST level, thus allowing the semantics of actual nested
``with`` statements to be reproduced accurately. However, such a change
would highlight rather than alleviate the problem the current PEP aims to
address: it would not be possible to use ``contextlib.contextmanager`` to
reliably factor out such ``with`` statements, as they would exhibit exactly
the same semantic differences as are seen with the ``combined()`` context
manager in the above example.


Performance Impact
==================

Implementing the new semantics makes it necessary to store the references
to the ``__enter__`` and ``__exit__`` methods in temporary variables instead
of on the stack. This results in a slight regression in ``with`` statement
speed relative to Python 2.6/3.1. However, implementing a custom
``SETUP_WITH`` opcode would negate any differences between the two
approaches (as well as dramatically improving speed by eliminating more
than a dozen unnecessary trips around the eval loop).


Reference Implementation
========================

Patch attached to Issue 5251 [1]. That patch uses only existing opcodes
(i.e. no ``SETUP_WITH``).


Acknowledgements
================

James William Pye both raised the issue and suggested the basic outline of
the solution described in this PEP.


References
==========

.. [1] Issue 5251: contextlib.nested inconsistent with nested with statements
   (http://bugs.python.org/issue5251)

.. [2] PEP 343: The "with" Statement
   (http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0343/)

.. [3] Import-style syntax to reduce indentation of nested with statements
   (http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2009-March/003188.html)

.. [4] Guido's rejection of the PEP
   (http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2009-March/087263.html)


Copyright
=========

This document has been placed in the public domain.

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