Exception Handling in Python

Exception handling is a concept used in Python to handle the exceptions and errors that occur during the execution of any program. Exceptions are unexpected errors that can occur during code execution. We have covered about exceptions and errors in python in the last tutorial.

Well, yes, exception occur, there can be errors in your code, but why should we invest time in handling exceptions?

The answer to this question is to improve User Experience. When an exception occurs, following things happen:

  • Program execution abruptly stops.
  • The complete exception message along with the file name and line number of code is printed on console.
  • All the calculations and operations performed till that point in code are lost.

Now think that one day you are using Studytonight's website, you click on some link to open a tutorial, which, for some unknown reason, leads to some exception. If we haven't handled the exceptions then you will see exception message while the webpage is also not loaded. Will you like that?

Hence, exception handling is very important to handle errors gracefully and displaying appropriate message to inform the user about the malfunctioning.


Handling Exceptions using try and except

For handling exceptions in Python we use two types of blocks, namely, try block and except block.

In the try block, we write the code in which there are chances of any error or exception to occur.

Whereas the except block is responsible for catching the exception and executing the statements specified inside it.

Below we have the code performing division by zero:

a = 10
b = 0
print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b))

Traceback (most recent call last): File "main.py", line 3, in <module> print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b)) ZeroDivisionError: division by zero

The above code leads to exception and the exception message is printed as output on the console.

If we use the try and except block, we can handle this exception gracefully.

# try block
try:
    a = 10
    b = 0
    print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b))
except:
    print("You have divided a number by zero, which is not allowed.")

You have divided a number by zero, which is not allowed.


The try block

As you can see in the code example above, the try block is used to put the whole code that is to be executed in the program(which you think can lead to exception), if any exception occurs during execution of the code inside the try block, then it causes the execution of the code to be directed to the except block and the execution that was going on in the try block is interrupted. But, if no exception occurs, then the whole try block is executed and the except block is never executed.


The except block

The try block is generally followed by the except block which holds the exception cleanup code(exception has occured, how to effectively handle the situation) like some print statement to print some message or may be trigger some event or store something in the database etc.

In the except block, along with the keyword except we can also provide the name of exception class which is expected to occur. In case we do not provide any exception class name, it catches all the exceptions, otherwise it will only catch the exception of the type which is mentioned.

Here is the syntax:

# except block
except(<Types of Exceptions to catched>):
    # except block starts

If you notice closely, we have mentioned types of exceptions, yes, we can even provide names of multiples exception classes separated by comma in the except statement.


Code Execution continues after except block

Another important point to note here is that code execution is interrupted in the try block when an exception occurs, and the code statements inside the try block after the line which caused the exception are not executed.

The execution then jumps into the except block. And after the execution of the code statements inside the except block the code statements after it are executed, just like any other normal execution.

Let's take an example:

# try block
try:
    a = 10
    b = 0
    print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b))
    print("No! This line will not be executed.")
except:
    print("You have divided a number by zero, which is not allowed.")

# outside the try-except blocks
print("Yo! This line will be executed.")

You have divided a number by zero, which is not allowed. Yo! This line will be executed.


Catching Multiple Exceptions in Python

There are multiple ways to accomplish this. Either we can have multiple except blocks with each one handling a specific exception class or we can handle multiple exception classes in a single except block.


Multiple except blocks

If you think your code may generate different exceptions in different situations and you want to handle those exceptions individually, then you can have multiple except blocks.

Mostly exceptions occur when user inputs are involved. So let's take a simple example where we will ask user for two numbers to perform division operation on them and show them the result.

We will try to handle multiple possible exception cases using multiple except blocks.

Try running the above code, provide 0 as value for the denominator and see what happens and then provide some string(non-integer) value for any variable. We have handled both the cases in the above code.


Handling Multiple Exceptions with on except block

As you can see in the above example we printed different messages based on what exception occured. If you do not have such requirements where you need to handle different exception individually, you can catch a set of exceptions in a single exception block as well.

Here is above the above code with a single except block:

# try block
try:
    a = int(input("Enter numerator number: "))
    b = int(input("Enter denominator number: "))
    print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b))
# except block handling division by zero
except(ValueError, ZeroDivisionError):
    print("Please check the input value: It should be an integer greater than 0")

here we have handled both the exceptions using a single except block while showing a meaningful message to the user.


Generic except block to Handle unknown Exceptions

Although we do try to make our code error free by testing it and using exception handling but there can be some error situation which we might have missed.

So when we use except blocks to handle specific exception classes we should always have a generic except block at the end to handle any runtime excpetions(surprise events).

# try block
try:
    a = int(input("Enter numerator number: "))
    b = int(input("Enter denominator number: "))
    print("Result of Division: " + str(a/b))
# except block handling division by zero
except(ZeroDivisionError):
    print("You have divided a number by zero, which is not allowed.")
# except block handling wrong value type
except(ValueError):
    print("You must enter integer value")
# generic except block
except:
    print("Oops! Something went wrong!")

In the code above the first except block will handle the ZeroDivisionError, second except block will handle the ValueError and for any other exception that might occur we have the third except block.


In the coming tutorials we will learn about finally block and how to raise an exception using the raise keyword.