Asking for permission instead of forgiveness

The Python community uses an EAFP (easier to ask for forgiveness than permission) coding style. This coding style assumes that needed variables, files, etc. exist. Any problems are caught as exceptions. This results in a generally clean and concise style containing a lot of try and except statements.


The code below uses an if statement to check if a file exists before attempting to use the file. This is not the preferred coding style in the Python community. The community prefers to assume that a file exists and you have access to it, and to catch any problems as exceptions.

import os

# violates EAFP coding style
if os.path.exists("file.txt"):

Best practice

Assume the file can be used and catch problems as exceptions

The updated code below is a demonstration of the EAFP coding style, which is the preferred style in the Python community. Unlike the original code, the modified code below simply assumes that the needed file exists, and catches any problems as exceptions. For example, if the file does not exist, the problem will be caught as an OSError exception.

import os

# raised when file does not exist
except OSError: