Python decorators are an interesting example of why syntactic sugar matters. In principle, their introduction in Python 2.4 changed nothing, since they do not provide any new functionality which was not already present in the language. In practice, their introduction has significantly changed the way we structure our programs in Python. I believe the change is for the best, and that decorators are a great idea since:
- decorators help reducing boilerplate code;
- decorators help separation of concerns;
- decorators enhance readability and maintenability;
- decorators are explicit.
- Still, as of now, writing custom decorators correctly requires some experience and it is not as easy as it could be. For instance, typical implementations of decorators involve nested functions, and we all know that flat is better than nested. The aim of the decorator module it to simplify the usage of decorators for the average programmer, and to popularize decorators by showing various non-trivial examples. Of course, as all techniques, decorators can be abused (I have seen that) and you should not try to solve every problem with a decorator, just because you can.
released on 16 February 2009
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