George V. Reilly

Raising IOError for 'file not found'

I wanted to raise Python’s IOError for a file-not-found condition, but it wasn’t obvious what the parameters to the exception should be.

from errno import ENOENT

if not os.path.isfile(source_file):
    raise IOError(ENOENT, 'Not a file', source_file)
with open(source_file) as fp:

IOError can be in­stan­ti­at­ed with 1, 2, or 3 arguments:

IOError(errno, strerror, filename)
These arguments are available on the errno, strerror, and filename attributes of the exception object, re­spec­tive­ly, in both Python 2 and 3. The args attribute contains the verbatim con­struc­tor arguments as a tuple.
IOError(errno, strerror)
These are available on the errno and strerror attributes of the exception, re­spec­tive­ly, in both Python 2 and 3, while the filename attribute is None.
In Python 2, errmsg is available on the deprecated message attribute of the exception. There is no message attribute on the exception object in Python 3; you must obtain errmsg from the args attribute. The errno, strerror, and filename attributes are all None.

I used errno.ENOENT above. You can obtain all the errno error codes and de­scrip­tions with [(k,v, os.strerror(k)) for k,v in os.errno.errorcode.items()].

You may object that opening a file only after checking for its existence is fragile because there’s a small window between checking and opening where the file could be removed by another process. You’d be right. In such a case, open(filename) will raise IOError(ENOENT, "No such file or directory", filename). Still, there are other cases where it’s useful to raise the 2- or 3-argument form of IOError.

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