I'm looking for some feedback on Python best practices, general code quality, and bonus points if you have knowledge of CANOpen that you can leverage to find anything I missed functionality-wise, but isn't necessary! I'm hoping that this isn't too technical.


import CANOpen
import csv, StringIO, binascii
"""@package PDOMapping
This package defines a PDOMapping, which is the PDO interpretation of the DictionaryEntry, but instead does the heavy lifting for PDOs. It defines the methods for sending and retrieving PDOs from CANSock.

class PDOMapping(object):
    """Provides an easy to use method for sending and recieving PDOs for a specific device."""

    def __init__(self, CANBus, deviceID):
        """Constructor for the PDOMapping. Takes in a CANBus to communicate over and a deviceID, and calculates the 8 possible PDO identifiers from there."""
        self.CANBus = CANBus
        self.deviceID = deviceID
        self.transmitPDOBases = {}
        self.recievePDOs = {}
        for i in range(1, 5):
            self.transmitPDOBases[str(i)] = 0x80 + (0x100 * i) + self.deviceID
            msg = CANOpen.PDO((0x100 + (0x100 * i) + self.deviceID), [0x00]*8)
            self.recievePDOs[str(i)] = msg
        for i in range(5, 9):
            self.transmitPDOBases[str(i)] = 0xC0 + (0x100 * (i - 4)) + self.deviceID
            msg = CANOpen.PDO((0x140 + (0x100 * (i - 4)) + self.deviceID), [0x00]*8)
            self.recievePDOs[str(i)] = msg

    def send(self, mappingList, value):
        """Takes in a list of different positions and a value. It breaks the value down into the appropriate number of bytes (The least amount possible) and then distributes the bytes to their different positions. This allows for one value to be spread over any number of different PDOs in any order. The mapping list must be ordered highest byte to lowest byte and specifies a tuple containing the PDO number and byte number for that bytes position. It then sends out all the PDOs needed to complete the message. Raises an exception if the value is too large for the provided list of positions, and returns false if the communication with CANSock failed, or true if everything went well."""
        stringValue = hex(value)
        stringValue = stringValue.replace('0x', '')

        if len(stringValue) > (len(mappingList) * 2):
            raise Exception('Value is too large to fit into the PDO!')
        # String needs to have an even number of characters
        if (len(stringValue) % 2) == 1:
            stringValue = '0' + stringValue

        while (len(mappingList) * 2) > len(stringValue):
            stringValue = "00" + stringValue

        valueStringList = []
        while len(stringValue) > 0:
            stringValue = stringValue[:-2]

        valueList = []
        for v in valueStringList:
            valueList.append(int(v, 16))

        PDOsToSend = []
        for messageLocation in mappingList:
            self.recievePDOs[str(messageLocation[0])].payload[messageLocation[1]-1] = valueList.pop()
            if not self.recievePDOs[str(messageLocation[0])] in PDOsToSend:
        for pdo in PDOsToSend:
            worked = self.CANBus.send(pdo.toString())
            if worked == False:
                print "Got a bad response on a send!"
                return False
        return True

    def retrieve(self, mappingList):
        """Does the opposite of the send. Takes in a mapping list formatted in the same way as the send mapping, and then figures out which PDOs it needs to retrieve to construct the value, then does the appropriate bit shifting to create the value and returns that as an integer."""
        PDOsToRetrieve = []
        for messageLocation in mappingList:
            if not (messageLocation[0] in PDOsToRetrieve):
        PDOS = {}
        for pdo in PDOsToRetrieve:
            PDOS[str(pdo)] = self.fetchPDO(pdo)
        value = '';
        for messageLocation in mappingList:
            value += PDOS[str(messageLocation[0])][messageLocation[1]]
        return int(value.replace('0x', ''), 16)

    def fetchPDO(self, pdoNumber):
        """Private method used to retrieve a PDO. This ensures that the whole PDO is grabbed at once as opposed to fetching the same PDO 4 times to get 4 different data bytes out of it."""
        PDOCOB = self.transmitPDOBases[str(pdoNumber)]
        response = self.CANBus.send(hex(PDOCOB))
        f = StringIO.StringIO(response)
        reader = csv.reader(f, delimiter= ',', skipinitialspace=True)
        message = reader.next()
        if message[-1] == 'T':
            print 'This is the dead message: ', 
            print message
            raise Exception('PDO retrieve shows dead PDO!')
        return message
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you give a pointer to the context? What is a PDO, etc? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 5, 2013 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ A PDO is a type of CAN message (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…). Long story short, its a little class that defines 8 data bytes and an identifier. You can check the link above to get a full rundown of the CANOpen protocol :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Ampt
    Nov 5, 2013 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may also be interested in the code formatting and naming style checker pypi.python.org/pypi/pep8 \$\endgroup\$ Nov 7, 2013 at 9:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Forgive me for straying off-topic... but what CANopen library are you importing there and how has it worked for you? \$\endgroup\$
    – altendky
    Aug 26, 2015 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @altendky it's my own self made one - it's really just a python wrapper that talks to a C based service running on the same box which lets python talk to a CAN bus via a socket connection. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ampt
    Aug 27, 2015 at 0:46

2 Answers 2


Well, here are a few points that I noticed:

  • The docstrings are all a long single line, which is hard to read on StackExchange, and in most editors as well. I would suggest to wrap the docstrings to a reasonable line length.
  • Spelling error -- "recieve" (in recievePDOs) should be "receive"
  • Lots of hardcoded numbers (5, 9, 0x80, ...). Consider using named constants
  • The trailing semicolon on some lines (e.g. value = '';) is unnecessary and uncommon, remove it.
  • Using csv to parse the response in fetchPDO is quite "creative", but is this really the right tool for the job? Or is this overkill? Is a response really CSV?
    • Error handling appears to be inconsistent. Sometimes you return True/ Falseto indicate success/error, sometimes you use exceptions. I'd suggest to use exceptions throughout.
  • Don't raise Exception directly. Instead, create a PDOErrorclass derived from Exception, and raise that. This allows clients of your class to catch specifically only PDO errors.
  • Avoid print statements in library code. For example, instead of printing error details, include them in your custom exception class.
  • Some of your functions are quite long. To conform to the Single Responsibility Principle, you might want to factor out the building and parsing of messages into separate functions, preferably in a separate module. This would also be easier to unit-test
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is exactly the sort of stuff I was looking for! Thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Ampt
    Nov 5, 2013 at 21:41

In send you do a lot of work to convert a number to a zero-padded hex string. You could use string formatting instead:

stringValue = '{:0{}x}'.format(value, len(mappingList) * 2)

Then you reverse the order of bytes and convert to a list of ints which you eventually consume by popping from the end. Thus you are reversing the order twice. Instead of popping inside a loop, the idiomatic way of working with two list in parallel is to use zip. Note also that the bytearray class is very convenient for you because it gives you ints when you iterate over it.

valueList = bytearray.fromhex(stringValue)
for messageLocation, byte in zip(mappingList, valueList):

I noticed also that you always index the transmitPDOBases and recievePDOs by stringified ints. Perhaps you are not aware that you can just as well use int keys directly. You just have to be consistent because 1 != '1'.


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