PEP 233 – Python Online Help
- Python Online Help
- paul at prescod.net (Paul Prescod)
- Standards Track
This PEP describes a command-line driven online help facility for Python. The facility should be able to build on existing documentation facilities such as the Python documentation and docstrings. It should also be extensible for new types and modules.
help describes the help function (through
help can also be used as a function.
The function takes the following forms of input:
help( "string" )– built-in topic or global
help( <ob> )– docstring from object or type
help( "doc:filename" )– filename from Python documentation
If you ask for a global, it can be a fully-qualified name, such as:
You can also use the facility from a command-line:
python --help if
In either situation, the output does paging similar to the
The help function is implemented in an
onlinehelp module which is
There should be options for fetching help information from
environments other than the command line through the
onlinehelp.gethelp(object_or_string) -> string
It should also be possible to override the help display function
by assigning to
The module should be able to extract module information from either the HTML or LaTeX versions of the Python documentation. Links should be accommodated in a “lynx-like” manner.
Over time, it should also be able to recognize when docstrings are in “special” syntaxes like structured text, HTML and LaTeX and decode them appropriately.
A prototype implementation is available with the Python source
help( "intro" )– What is Python? Read this first!
help( "keywords" )– What are the keywords?
help( "syntax" )– What is the overall syntax?
help( "operators" )– What operators are available?
help( "builtins" )– What functions, types, etc. are built-in?
help( "modules" )– What modules are in the standard library?
help( "copyright" )– Who owns Python?
help( "moreinfo" )– Where is there more information?
help( "changes" )– What changed in Python 2.0?
help( "extensions" )– What extensions are installed?
help( "faq" )– What questions are frequently asked?
help( "ack" )– Who has done work on Python lately?
This module will attempt to import modules with the same names as
requested topics. Don’t use the modules if you are not confident
that everything in your
PYTHONPATH is from a trusted source.
Last modified: 2017-11-11 19:28:55 GMT