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Natural Language Processing with Python by Edward Loper, Steven Bird, Ewan Klein

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More Python: Reusing Code

By this time you’ve probably typed and retyped a lot of code in the Python interactive interpreter. If you mess up when retyping a complex example, you have to enter it again. Using the arrow keys to access and modify previous commands is helpful but only goes so far. In this section, we see two important ways to reuse code: text editors and Python functions.

Creating Programs with a Text Editor

The Python interactive interpreter performs your instructions as soon as you type them. Often, it is better to compose a multiline program using a text editor, then ask Python to run the whole program at once. Using IDLE, you can do this by going to the File menu and opening a new window. Try this now, and enter the following one-line program:

print 'Monty Python'

Save this program in a file called monty.py, then go to the Run menu and select the command Run Module. (We’ll learn what modules are shortly.) The result in the main IDLE window should look like this:

>>> ================================ RESTART ================================
>>>
Monty Python
>>>

You can also type from monty import * and it will do the same thing.

From now on, you have a choice of using the interactive interpreter or a text editor to create your programs. It is often convenient to test your ideas using the interpreter, revising a line of code until it does what you expect. Once you’re ready, you can paste the code (minus any >>> or ... prompts) into the text editor, continue to expand it, ...

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