In Python how should I test if a variable is None, True or False

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Question :

In Python how should I test if a variable is None, True or False

I have a function that can return one of three things:

  • success (True)
  • failure (False)
  • error reading/parsing stream (None)

My question is, if I’m not supposed to test against True or False, how should I see what the result is. Below is how I’m currently doing it:

result = simulate(open("myfile"))
if result == None:
    print "error parsing stream"
elif result == True: # shouldn't do this
    print "result pass"
else:
    print "result fail"

is it really as simple as removing the == True part or should I add a tri-bool data-type. I do not want the simulate function to throw an exception as all I want the outer program to do with an error is log it and continue.

Answer #1:

Don’t fear the Exception! Having your program just log and continue is as easy as:

try:
    result = simulate(open("myfile"))
except SimulationException as sim_exc:
    print "error parsing stream", sim_exc
else:
    if result:
        print "result pass"
    else:
        print "result fail"

# execution continues from here, regardless of exception or not

And now you can have a much richer type of notification from the simulate method as to what exactly went wrong, in case you find error/no-error not to be informative enough.

Answered By: PaulMcG

Answer #2:

if result is None:
    print "error parsing stream"
elif result:
    print "result pass"
else:
    print "result fail"

keep it simple and explicit. You can of course pre-define a dictionary.

messages = {None: 'error', True: 'pass', False: 'fail'}
print messages[result]

If you plan on modifying your simulate function to include more return codes, maintaining this code might become a bit of an issue.

The simulate might also raise an exception on the parsing error, in which case you’d either would catch it here or let it propagate a level up and the printing bit would be reduced to a one-line if-else statement.

Answered By: SilentGhost

Answer #3:

Never, never, never say

if something == True:

Never. It’s crazy, since you’re redundantly repeating what is redundantly specified as the redundant condition rule for an if-statement.

Worse, still, never, never, never say

if something == False:

You have not. Feel free to use it.

Finally, doing a == None is inefficient. Do a is None. None is a special singleton object, there can only be one. Just check to see if you have that object.

Answered By: S.Lott

Answer #4:

There are many good answers. I would like to add one more point. A bug can get into your code if you are working with numerical values, and your answer is happened to be 0.

a = 0 
b = 10 
c = None

### Common approach that can cause a problem

if not a:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(a)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(a)}.")

if not b:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(b)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(b)}")

if not c:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(c)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(c)}.")
Answer is not found. Answer is 0.   
Answer is: 10.   
Answer is not found. Answer is None.
### Safer approach 
if a is None:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(a)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(a)}.")

if b is None:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(b)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(b)}.")

if c is None:
    print(f"Answer is not found. Answer is {str(c)}.") 
else:
    print(f"Answer is: {str(c)}.")

Answer is: 0.
Answer is: 10.
Answer is not found. Answer is None.
Answered By: Naeem Khoshnevis

Answer #5:

I would like to stress that, even if there are situations where if expr : isn’t sufficient because one wants to make sure expr is True and not just different from 0/None/whatever, is is to be prefered from == for the same reason S.Lott mentionned for avoiding == None.

It is indeed slightly more efficient and, cherry on the cake, more human readable.

In [1]: %timeit (1 == 1) == True
38.1 ns ± 0.116 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 10000000 loops each)

In [2]: %timeit (1 == 1) is True
33.7 ns ± 0.141 ns per loop (mean ± std. dev. of 7 runs, 10000000 loops each)
Answered By: Thrastylon

Answer #6:

I believe that throwing an exception is a better idea for your situation. An alternative will be the simulation method to return a tuple. The first item will be the status and the second one the result:

result = simulate(open("myfile"))
if not result[0]:
  print "error parsing stream"
else:
  ret= result[1]
Answered By: kgiannakakis

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