Day 20 - Context Managers

When working with any type of resource in any programming language, we must release them once we no longer use them, this must be done because leaving resources open and not making use of them can slow down the system or even cause it to fail.

Context managers are a Python feature that allows us to manage these resources in a simple way leaving aside the need to always assign and release resources manually.

Let’s suppose that we need to make some operation with the handling of plain files, so we must open a file, read its content and close it once we are done with it:

file = open('path/to/the/file')
content =

This resource must be released after used, in this case it is simply to close the file. However this process of opening and closing files is not the best and for some reason we could forget to add it.

When using context managers, we use the keyword with, the previous example would look like this:

with open('path/to/the/file') as file:
    content =

It starts by opening a file for processing, read the content, and close it before leaving this block.


Context Managers with classes

In order to create context managers using classes, we will be using the Dunder Methods, to be more precise the __enter__ and __exit__.

class ContextManager:
    def __init__(self):

    def __enter__(self):

    def __exit__(self, type, value, traceback):
  • __init__: Creates the object.
  • __enter__: Return the resource we are going to use.
  • __exit__: Release the resource when we finish using the context manager instance.

This last one, as you could see, receives three arguments that in case an exception occurs, it will pass the type, value and traceback of the exception so we can decide how to proceed at the moment of releasing the resource.

class OpenFile:
    def __init__(self, filename):
        self.file = open(filename)
    def __enter__(self):
        return self.file

    def __exit__(self, type, value, traceback):

In this way we can try to simulate the behaviour when opening files, once we have defined our methods, we can make use of the with keyword.

with OpenFile("path/to/the/file") as file:
    content =

Context Managers with functions

We can also implement our context managers using functions, however to create them we must use Decorators and Generators.

from contextlib import contextmanager

def open_file(filename):
    file = open(filename)

        yield file
        # Exceptions that may occur  

We use the decorator @contextmanager and the keyword yield to convert a simple function into a context manager, and in the same way here we can capture the exceptions that occur and manage them according to our needs.

The use of this context manager is the same as the one we did with classes, the only thing that would change is the name of the class/function we are using.

Go to the Challenge

Go to the Solution