Fix Python – Why are trailing commas allowed in a list?

Question

Asked By – Burhan Khalid

I am curious why in Python a trailing comma in a list is valid syntax, and it seems that Python simply ignores it:

>>> ['a','b',]
['a', 'b']

It makes sense when its a tuple since ('a') and ('a',) are two different things, but in lists?

Now we will see solution for issue: Why are trailing commas allowed in a list?


Answer

The main advantages are that it makes multi-line lists easier to edit and that it reduces clutter in diffs.

Changing:

s = ['manny',
     'mo',
     'jack',
]

to:

s = ['manny',
     'mo',
     'jack',
     'roger',
]

involves only a one-line change in the diff:

  s = ['manny',
       'mo',
       'jack',
+      'roger',
  ]

This beats the more confusing multi-line diff when the trailing comma was omitted:

  s = ['manny',
       'mo',
-      'jack'
+      'jack',
+      'roger'
  ]

The latter diff makes it harder to see that only one line was added and that the other line didn’t change content.

It also reduces the risk of doing this:

s = ['manny',
     'mo',
     'jack'
     'roger'  # Added this line, but forgot to add a comma on the previous line
]

and triggering implicit string literal concatenation, producing s = ['manny', 'mo', 'jackroger'] instead of the intended result.

This question is answered By – Raymond Hettinger

This answer is collected from stackoverflow and reviewed by FixPython community admins, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0