Adventures in Machine Learning

Managing File Handling in Python: Mastering the With Statement

Python is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world. It is known for its simplicity and versatility, which makes it a favorite among developers of all skill levels.

One of the most useful features of Python is the with statement, which provides a simple and efficient way to handle resources such as files. In this article, we will discuss the purpose and usefulness of the with statement, the need for context managers in Python, and how to use it effectively.

1. Purpose and usefulness of with statement:

Resource management is an essential aspect of programming that deals with the allocation and release of resources such as memory, network connections, and files.

Python’s with statement makes it easier to manage resources and ensures they are released when no longer in use. With statement is used for operations that involve acquiring and releasing resources.

This statement follows the Python context manager protocol and can simplify the code for resource access. One of the primary uses of the with statement is for file handling.

When using with statement, you do not have to worry about closing the file after opening it since it automatically takes care of it. This feature of with statement helps developers write cleaner code that is less prone to errors.

2. Need for context managers in Python:

Resource management is one of the essential tasks in programming, and Python has built-in support for this feature.

In Python, context managers are used to manage resources effectively. They help ensure that resources are acquired and released in a timely and safe fashion, reducing the chances of resource leaks or other issues.

Context managers are an object that defines the runtime environment of the block of code under its management. It is useful for file handling because it helps ensure that the files are closed when no longer in use, preventing resource leaks or other issues that could potentially crash your application.

By using with statement with the context object, developers can perform an operation involving resources and automatically, the resource release is taken care of by the __exit__() method. 3.

Storing object reference in context object:

When using a with statement, the context object created, containing the state of the resource used in the block, is returned by the __enter__() method. It can be stored in a variable, which can be used later in the program.

For example, if you are opening a file, you can store the file object in a variable for subsequent use. This helps to avoid creating the same object multiple times, which can be expensive in terms of performance.

4. __enter__ dunder method to open resources:

The __enter__() method is used to initialize or acquire the resource, such as opening a file or connecting to a database.

The context manager can do whatever it needs to do to prepare the resource for use, but it must return the resource itself. The resource is then stored in the context object created by the context manager.

In our file handling example, the __enter__() method is used to open the file, and the file object is then returned for use by the program. 5.

Using the as keyword to get the context object:

When using with statement, you can assign the context object to a variable using the as keyword. This variable can then be used to perform operations on the resource.

For example, you could use the following code to open a file and assign the file object to the variable ‘f’:

“`with open(‘example.txt’, ‘r’) as f:

data =“`

Here, the file object is automatically closed after the block of code is executed, and the data stored in the file is read and stored in the variable ‘data.’ By using with statement and the as keyword, developers can ensure that the resource is automatically closed when no longer in use, without having to write additional code to close the resource. 6.

__exit__ dunder method for safety feature:

The __exit__() method is used to release the resource and handle any exceptions that occur during the operation. This method is called automatically by the with statement when the block of code is complete, whether or not an exception was raised.

This feature ensures that the resource is always properly released, even in the event of an error or an exception. By using with statement, and the context manager’s __exit__() method, developers can be sure that their code is safe and that resources are properly managed.


Python’s with statement is a powerful feature that helps developers write cleaner, more efficient code. By providing a simplified and automated way to handle resources such as files, with statement reduces the likelihood of resource leaks and other issues that could cause crashes or other problems.

Context managers are critical in Python as they help manage resources effectively. Understanding how with statement and context managers work will help developers write better code that is less prone to errors and more reliable.

Creating custom context managers for a class:

Custom context managers can be defined as a way to define a context manager for a particular class. This provides the ability to manage resources for a class, such as file handling, in a convenient way.

By creating a custom context manager, you can create a context for your class that allows you to perform some operations without worrying explicitly about the resources. For instance, let us consider a simple example using the file handling functionality.

The following class will create a custom context manager for file handling. “`

class FileHandler:

def __init__(self, filename):

self.filename = filename

self.file_object = None

def __enter__(self):

self.file_object = open(self.filename, ‘r’)

return self.file_object

def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_val, exc_tb):

if self.file_object:



In the above class, we have defined an __init__ method as a constructor that initializes the filename and the file object with None.

The __enter__ method is defined to open the file and return the file object. Finally, the __exit__ method is defined to close the file if it was successfully opened.

With these methods defined in the class, we can now use it as follows:


with FileHandler(‘example.txt’) as file:



Using the above code, the file is opened and read. Once we are out of the with block, the file’s context will be cleaned up and closed automatically.

This is the beauty of the context manager, and with class-based custom context managers, the code is cleaner and easier to read. Alternative approach using generator-based context managers:

Besides class-based custom context managers, generator-based context managers are also worth considering.

However, this approach is not recommended and considered hacky. In this approach, we define a generator function to handle the context management.

It yields the resource object to be used in the with block and handles the cleanup in the finally clause. Here is an example of generator-based context managers:


from contextlib import contextmanager


def file_handler(filename):

file_object = open(filename, ‘r’)


yield file_object




The above code defines a function using the @contextmanager decorator. The decorator uses a generator function that yields the resource object.

The try block handles the yielded object, and then the resource cleaning happens in the finally block. With this approach, we can open a file as follows:


with file_handler(‘example.txt’) as file:



Although the generator trick works in most cases and is considered useful for small or single-purpose context managers, for more complex management, the class-based custom context manager is a better way to go.


Context managers are a great way to handle resources such as file I/O cleanly and safely. Context managers provide the necessary tools to ensure proper management of the resources.

While class-based custom context managers provide better control and more readability to the code, generator-based context managers are considered hacky and not recommended when the resource management is complicated. By using context managers effectively, developers can create more efficient and error-free code.

In summary, the Python with statement is a powerful tool for resource management, especially for file handling. Context managers are an essential feature in Python that provides a way to manage resources effectively.

Class-based custom context managers provide better control and more readability to the code, while generator-based context managers are considered hacky and not recommended when the resource management is complicated. By using context managers effectively, developers can create more efficient and error-free code.

The main takeaway is that understanding the with statement and context managers in Python can help developers handle resources properly and write better code overall.

Popular Posts