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I've got a Python script which is meant to launch several other shell scripts with the appropriate setup and parameters. I construct the file paths from other variables so that it's easier to change one setting and have it apply everywhere, rather than hardcoding everything.

So, for example:

HOME_DIRECTORY = os.path.dirname(os.path.realpath(__file__))

ONHAND_ACC_NAME = 'onhand_accuracy'
SHRINK_NAME = 'shrink'


These are all constants defined at the top of the script. (Feel free to tell me a more Pythonic way to do this than constants, as well. I've heard before that "Python should have no constants at all", though I'm not sure how accurate or purist that is.)

In Java, I would do something much cleaner, like use an enum to generate appropriate file paths as needed:

public enum FileType {

    SHELL_SCRIPT   (".ksh"),
    CONFIGURATION  (".conf");

    private static final String HOME_DIRECTORY = "/path/to/scripts";
    private static final String FILE_SEPARATOR = FileSystems.getDefault().getSeparator();

    private final String extension;

    private FileType(String extension) {
        this.extension = extension;

    public String getFilePath(String name) {
        return HOME_DIRECTORY + FILE_SEPARATOR + name + extension;

Then I could simply invoke this whenever I wanted to and get a file path, rather than hardcoding them as constants, like so:


Any similar tips on how I can improve this practice/technique in Python? I know I could have a similar function in Python that uses a lot of if/elif on a string input, but that still seems much dirtier than an enum, since the calling code can pass in whatever it wants for that string.

(In the Java, I would probably also have an enum for the associated Script, but that would clutter up my example.)

share|improve this question
Probably not worth an answer but maybe you should use – Josay Mar 27 '14 at 13:54
@Josay Thanks! I'll give it a look. – asteri Mar 27 '14 at 14:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

For something similar to your Java solution, you could have this in

import os.path

class FileType(object):
    HOME_DIRECTORY = "/path/to/scripts"

    def __init__(self, extension):
        self.extension = extension

    def file_path(self, name):
        return os.path.join(self.HOME_DIRECTORY, name + self.extension)

SHELL_SCRIPT = FileType(".ksh")
CONFIGURATION = FileType(".conf")

Then the usage would be

import filetype
share|improve this answer
That's awesome. Is this a "Pythonic" way to do it, though, or just an analogy to my Java implementation? I like it, either way, but I'd like to also learn how a normal/expert Python developer would go about tackling the problem. – asteri Mar 27 '14 at 17:54
@JeffGohlke You didn't give much context in your question. I would probably start by using os.path.join where the path is needed, and if I find repeating myself, look for the proper place to store it. – Janne Karila Mar 27 '14 at 19:24

You could make a module with two global variables and a class the globals starting as:

    SHELL_SCRIPT = '.ksh',
    CONFIG_FILE = '.conf',
    STORE_FILE = '.someextension'

And a class that has one static method to set the home directory

If you make a class and there is no set home directory you get an error. You also get an error if the file type is unknown

class CustomPath(object):
    __file_name = str()
    __file_type = str()
    file_name = str()
    file_type = str()
    file_extension = str()
    def __init__(self, file_name, file_type):
        if HOME_DIRECTORY is None:
            raise Exception("Please set the Home Directory")
        self.file_name  = self.__file_name = file_name
        if not file_type in EXTENSIONS.keys():
            raise Exception("Unsupported file type")
        self.file_type = self.__file_type = file_type
        self.file_extension = EXTENSIONS[self.__file_type]

    def __repr__(self):
        return HOME_DIRECTORY + '/' + self.__file_name + EXTENSIONS[self.__file_type]
    def __str__(self):
        return self.__repr__()
    def SetHomeDirectory( new_path):
        global HOME_DIRECTORY
        HOME_DIRECTORY = new_path

Usage example:

>>> CustomPath.SetHomeDirectory("C/scripts")
>>> my_file = CustomPath("script_a","SHELL_SCRIPT")
>>> my_file
>>> str(my_file)
>>> my_file.file_name
>>> my_file.file_type
>>> my_file.file_extension
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