9 PEP 352: Exceptions as New-Style Classes

Exception classes can now be new-style classes, not just classic classes, and the built-in Exception class and all the standard built-in exceptions (NameError, ValueError, etc.) are now new-style classes.

The inheritance hierarchy for exceptions has been rearranged a bit. In 2.5, the inheritance relationships are:

BaseException       # New in Python 2.5
|- KeyboardInterrupt
|- SystemExit
|- Exception
   |- (all other current built-in exceptions)

This rearrangement was done because people often want to catch all exceptions that indicate program errors. KeyboardInterrupt and SystemExit aren't errors, though, and usually represent an explicit action such as the user hitting Control-C or code calling sys.exit(). A bare except: will catch all exceptions, so you commonly need to list KeyboardInterrupt and SystemExit in order to re-raise them. The usual pattern is:

except (KeyboardInterrupt, SystemExit):
    # Log error...  
    # Continue running program...

In Python 2.5, you can now write except Exception to achieve the same result, catching all the exceptions that usually indicate errors but leaving KeyboardInterrupt and SystemExit alone. As in previous versions, a bare except: still catches all exceptions.

The goal for Python 3.0 is to require any class raised as an exception to derive from BaseException or some descendant of BaseException, and future releases in the Python 2.x series may begin to enforce this constraint. Therefore, I suggest you begin making all your exception classes derive from Exception now. It's been suggested that the bare except: form should be removed in Python 3.0, but Guido van Rossum hasn't decided whether to do this or not.

Raising of strings as exceptions, as in the statement raise "Error occurred", is deprecated in Python 2.5 and will trigger a warning. The aim is to be able to remove the string-exception feature in a few releases.

See Also:

PEP 352, Required Superclass for Exceptions
PEP written by Brett Cannon and Guido van Rossum; implemented by Brett Cannon.

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