Like .NET, Python uses namespaces to avoid name collisions. However, the semantics are a bit different. If you want to use a type or function from a a given namespace in Python, you have to import it into your current scope. For example, if you want to use the Python datetime built-in module, you would import it into the current scope and use it like this:
import datetime bush_last_day = datetime.date(2009,1,20)
Notice that when I import a Python module this way, it’s scoped into it’s namespace, which forces me to use the entire namespace scoped name to access the type. Of course, that gets tedious quickly, so Python provides a way to import a type from a specific namespace into your current scope like this:
from datetime import date bush_last_day = date(2009,1,20)
With IronPython, you can do import .NET namespaces as well. Here’s that same code using the standard .NET DateTime class.
from System import DateTime bush_last_day = DateTime(2009,1,20)
What I didn’t know is that you can import static methods & properties from .NET types into the current scope using the same syntax. Here’s an example:
from System.DateTime import Now if Now >= bush_last_day: print 'celebrate' else: print (bush_last_day - Now).Days, 'days left'
Being able to import a static method into the current scope is pretty convenient. Thanks to my teammate Jimmy for cluing me into this IPy feature.
One caveat though: in Python, you can import an entire namespace into your current scope. You can do that with .NET namespaces, but not with .NET types
from datetime import * # this works from System import * # so does this from System.DateTime import * # this doesn’t work
Update: Michael Foord pointed out that if you import Now as I describe above, it places a DateTime object representing the time you imported it into local scope, rather than placing the underlying get_Now static method in local scope. So while DateTime.Now always returns a new value, Now never changes. Sounds like an IPy bug to me, but I’ll have to circle back with the team to be sure.