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Python Builtins and their Modern and Convenient Replacements

written by Eric J. Ma on 2022-07-25 | tags: python tools

Python has a batteries-included philosophy. This means that when you install Python, you get a lot of basic functionality thrown in for free! Yet, as time progressed, we (the Python language community) gradually figured out how to accomplish that same functionality with fewer lines of code. In other words, we built opinionated tools to streamline common ways of doing things. In this blog post, I'd like to highlight some of these tools, both big and small, and the built-in modules (or otherwise patterns of usage) that they replace.

Summary Table

If this blog post is too long for you, then here's the tl;dr:

Built-in Replacement
csv pandas
logging loguru
Disable warnings shutup
argparse typer

(You can click on the package/module names to check them out!)

Handling tabular data

Before pandas came along and became the de facto library for handling tabular data in Python, the built-in csv module was the de facto library before it. The kind of code that we'd have to write before looked like this:

import csv

with open("data.csv", "r+") as f:
    data_reader = csv.reader(f, delimiter=",")

# We would need more code to parse each row...

Of course, with pandas, we know that we can now write the following compact code instead:

import pandas as pd

df = pd.read_csv("data.csv")

pandas did a great job by giving us an intuitive API for reading CSV files and other tabular data formats, such as Excel spreadsheets and Matlab data files. In addition, it also gave us an interface to compact binary representations of data files, such as the .feather or .parquet formats, which, in some cases, can result in 3-20X disk space reductions.

Logging information

If you use logging, you might know that Python has a built-in logging module. Logging has advantages over printing, the most significant two that I've experienced being (1) knowing (in the logs) exactly which module a logging line came from, and (2) the ability to redirect the logs to a plain text file that we can search later. As it turns out, loguru makes logging in your Python code as easy as printing without too much overhead.

Here's the code that you might write using the built-in logging facilities in Python:

import logging

logger = logging.getLogger(name)

def my_func(*args, **kwargs):
    ..."Some message.")

And here is the code that, frankly, feels just a tad easier to write, because we eliminate one line of boilerplate:

from loguru import logger

def my_func(*args, **kwargs):
    ..."Some message.")

The output looks beautiful in the terminal because of its colours!

Disabling warnings

I can't remember how many times I've forgotten how to disable all warnings in a Jupyter notebook. Usually, a quick online search would lead me to this StackOverflow post, but there are many options for doing so listed on that post that I invariably give up and live with warnings piling up in my notebooks. That is, until, I saw shutup.

Before shutup, we would write:

import warnings

But with shutup we would write the following code that is just a tad easier to remember than the builtin:

import shutup

The package is so Canadian and polite too!

Making command line interfaces

If you've built command line interface (CLI) tools using Python's built-in argparser module, you'll know that it's incredibly convenient to turn Python scripts into CLIs. Yet, at the same time, it's also really verbose. You might end up writing code that looks like this:

# Hello {name} program!
import argparse

if __name__ == "__main__":
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description="My App")
    parser.add_argument("name", type=str, help="Name to say hello.")
    parser.add_argument("times", type=int, help="Number of times to say hello.")

    args = parser.parse_args()

    for i in range(args.times):
        print(f"Hello {}")

Looking at that code, I can imagine building CLIs composed of multiple commands will be challenging to maintain and develop.

Typer makes building CLIs much more accessible by helping you easily organize your CLI code into sub-commands.

import typer

app = typer.Typer()

def hello(name: str, times: int):
    for i in range(times):
        print(f"Hello {name}!")

def goodbye(name: str, times: int):
    for i in range(times):
        print(f"Goodbye {name}!")

if __name__ == "__main__":

As you probably can tell, it is much easier to compose command line interface programs with Typer than with `argparse; this is thanks to type hints in modern Python. Typer takes advantage of this to make building CLIs a breeze!


As the Python ecosystem matures and grows, as a community, we will uncover and find new sane patterns that lubricate our code development work. That will, in turn, lead to more development of what I call "convenience packages"; in the marketplace of ideas, good ones will usually (though not always) rise to the top and become well-known. I'd encourage you to try out these modern replacements for built-in Python modules and see if they stick!

Cite this blog post:
    author = {Eric J. Ma},
    title = {Python Builtins and their Modern and Convenient Replacements},
    year = {2022},
    month = {07},
    day = {25},
    howpublished = {\url{}},
    journal = {Eric J. Ma's Blog},
    url = {},

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