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Python coding style

As you become more experienced in coding in general and Python coding in particular, you will find that your code improves in various ways if you use a consistent coding style.

Code style guidelines

Using a consistent style makes your code easier to read. Once you have learned the guidelines, you will spend less time thinking about formatting and more time thinking about the algorithm and code structure.

The first link above is the official “Style Guide for Python Code”, usually referred to as PEP8. PEP is an acronym for Python Enhancement Proposal. There are a couple of potentially helpful tools for helping you conform to the standard. The pep8 package that provides a commandline tool to check your code against some of the PEP8 standard conventions. Similarly, autopep8 provides a tool to automatically format your code so that it conforms to the PEP8 standards.

Documentation guidelines

You will also want to document your code in a consistent way, so you and others can see at a glance how the code works. You should write the documentation as you write the code, to help you think about what the code should do, and to find the cleanest code design.

The most basic form of documentation is to write Docstrings for your functions, classes and modules. Good docstrings make your code much easier to use and understand.

Nearly all scientific Python projects use the numpy docstring standard. This is a well-defined set of rules for writing a standard docstring, that makes the docstring easier to read, and later, allows the docstring to be parsed by automatic tools that can make nice online document like this.

You’ll see that the example code that we give you often uses this style, even for short snippets of code.