fredag 8 oktober 2021

A Pythonic Railway?

What is Railway Oriented Programming, and how it can be implemented in Python? Is it even a good fit for Python?

🐍 Python on Rails

I’ve experimented with this Railway thing to find out if it is a good fit. If you haven't already, make sure to watch this excellent talk about Railway Oriented Programming from NDC London by Scott Wlaschin.

As I understand Railway Oriented Programming, it is about adding error handling to code without cluttering the program flow.

The source code in my GitHub repo is an attempt to implement a lightweight, and probably a sloppy, variant of Railway Oriented Programming in Python.

What I'm trying to achieve is to add the functional concepts of Railway Oriented Programming, and try keeping a Pythonic mindset. I believe that means not going all-in functional, but I could be wrong here. đŸ€”

🚂 Why Railways?

As I understand it, this way of writing code is about adding error handling and still keeping a happy path style in the code. This is done by wrapping - or as I’ve been doing, decorating - functions.

The functions are wrapped (or decorated, as in the examples in my GitHub repo) to catch failures. The output of a failed function call will be the input to the next one. The next function will choose a track based on the input: taking the success track, or the fail track. In general, taking the fail track means bypassing the function and skip to the next one.

By using a two-tracked approach in functions, the error handling will be separated from the program. Functions will be less cluttered with try except error handling and probably also with less of if else flow control clauses. As result, In many cases, this will mean less code in functions.

Less code in a function will probably be easier to understand and reason about. Less branches in a program flow will keep the functions simple. I think less is nice. Yeah, less is more. 😎

Here’s an improvised 5 minute video I’ve made to demo the concepts Railway Oriented Development in Python:

Direct link to the A Pythonic Railway? video.

I would love to hear your feedback about this!

Top photo by Alex Paganelli on Unsplash

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