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How To Write Your Own Python Documentation Generator

Introspection with the inspect module

In my early days with Python, one of the things that I really liked was using the built-in help function to examine classes and methods while sitting at the interpreter, trying to determine what to type next. This function imports an object and walks through its members, pulling out docstrings and generating manpage-like output to help give you an idea of how to use the object it was examining.

The beauty about it being built into the standard library is that with output being generated straight from code, it indirectly emphasizes a coding style for lazy people like me, who want to do as little extra work as possible to maintain documentation. Especially if you already choose straight forward names for your variables and functions. This style involves things like adding docstrings to your functions and classes, as well as properly identifying private and protected members by prefixing them with underscores.

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Hacking Together a Simple Graphical Python Debugger

Zero-to-Debugging in 15 mins

You don’t realize the value of a debugger until you’re stuck working on a hard-to-visualize problem. But once you fire up a development environment with decent debugging capabilities, you’ll never look back.

Want to know where you’re at in code execution? What’s taking so long? Just pause it and check.

Wonder what value is assigned to that variable? Mouse over it.

Want to skip a bunch of code and continue running from a different section? Go for it.

Sometimes print(variable_name) is just not enough to give you an idea of what’s going on with your project. This is when a good debugger can help you figuring things out.

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