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Suggested Coding Conventions.

What follow are some suggestions for the coding conventions we should adopt within the Python code of “The Virtual Brain”, hereafter TVB.

When in doubt implementing algorithms from the literature, please follow guidelines described at: http://codecapsule.com/2012/01/18/how-to-implement-a-paper/

Coding Style

The standard reference for Python coding style is the BDFL’s PEP 8:

To ease and simplify the process of attaining a consistent style across the code-base I would suggest we agree upon an automated code checker such as PyLint:

and require as a bare minimum an evaluation of > 7/10. By default, PyLint essentially checks for consistency in line with the PEP 8 specification. However, if there are strong objections to any of the requirements enforced by PyLint, we can always adapt the configuration file to more adequately reflect TVB requirements.

Floating point numbers should always have at least one number before and after the dot. Regexp please ?

DocString Style

The equivalent of PEP 8 for DocStrings is PEP 257:
http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0257/

Additional Conventions

Zen:
http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0020/
Classes self description:
All classes should have appropriately defined __repr__ and __str__ methods.
Module specific markup:
http://docs.python.org/documenting/markup.html particularly ..moduleauthor:, perhaps in the module itself rather than the associated .rst file in docs, to identify those to be held responsible.
Logging!:

We use module level logging, based on the logging mechanism from gemenos, with a fallback to direct use of the python logging package. This means all modules have

from tvb.simulator.common import get_logger
LOG = get_logger

then you can call LOG.error(msg), LOG.warn(msg), LOG.info(msg), etc. as is appropriate. The principle benefit over other ways of keeping track of things (printf debugging, the warning module) is flexibility. Then to distinguish between classes within modules use messages of the form

LOG.debug("%s:a useful message a=%s"%(str(self), self.an_attribute))

which makes use of the “Classes self description”, mentioned above.

First three lines of module files:
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

"""

as the construct #!usr/bin/env python is not cross platform.

Never import *:
That is don’t use from module import *, as this adds needless difficulty to tracing the source of functions, methods, etc.
Avoid from module import Class, Function, Etc where possible:
Only really an issue when circular import of modules occurs. See,
http://docs.python.org/faq/programming.html#what-are-the-best-practices-for-using-import-in-a-module

for more details.

Always use NumPy:
We assume for the moment that most datatypes are NumPy arrays unless is necessary to have a class, list, tuple etc.
Line continuation:
Where necessary add parentheses to enable implicit line continuation rather than explicit continuation using \, as the latter form opens the possibility for subtle bugs to be introduced.

Some terminoloy

Some useful python terminoloy can be found here:
http://wiki.python.org/moin/Distutils/Terminology

Use a file/module template

As a means of facilitating convergence on these conventions a template python file should be created for TVB project and be used as a starting point for any TVB Python modules.

As a rough first example see, template_tvb.py