[tor-dev] Stem Descriptor Parsers

Damian Johnson atagar at torproject.org
Tue Jul 10 15:59:44 UTC 2012

> After looking at possible use cases, wouldn't it make sense to allow the
> caller to specify a file to be written to?

Make sense, though via a convenience method. Libraries should provide
basic building blocks (such as 'give me the csv string for these
descriptors') in addition to less flexible but user friendly functions
('write the csv to path X or file Y').

> Regardless, we were thinking of
> creating two methods, one that takes a list of descriptors, and one that
> takes a single descriptor.

The problem was using a *descriptors argument, not accepting a list
verses a single descriptor. Accepting either a single value or a list
can make things quite a bit nicer, for instance the 'target' argument
of the DescriptorReader...

That said, I haven't seen the code yet so do what you think is best.

> Just to clarify, the include_fields and exclude_fields parameters would have
> default values of none

I was just using that as an example since I didn't know what you were
defaulting it to. My assumption was that they'd both default to None
to indicate "user didn't provide anything" and the behavior was...
include_fields - default is to include everything (ie, all the fields
that a descriptor has)
exclude_fields - default is to exclude nothing

> ... and since we are taking in descriptors are a list
> rather than a *arg, we don't need to worry about specifying the keyword
> parameters.

Sorry, I'm coming up with two interpretations of the sentence "we
don't need to worry about specifying the keyword parameters". If you

... "we don't need those parameters to have a keyword" then no, we
definitely want them to have keywords so users can pick and choose
what they want to set.

... "users don't need to supply those parameters" then yup, without a
*descriptors argument they'll be completely optional.

> That said, if a caller doesn't specify either, all parameters
> would be returned.

Yup, sounds good. Defaulting to "give me a csv with all of the
descriptor's attributes" makes sense.

> Otherwise, it is expected that only one of these
> parameters would be specified by the caller.

It would be weird if the user set both, but we can easily handle it.
Just remove anything in the exclude_fields from the include_fields.

> Also, going back to features expected by the community, would users want a
> csv header to be written? Or simply a csv file?

Yup. Users will need a header so they can figure out what the fields
are (otherwise adding new descriptor fields will break all of the old
csvs that were only based on position). However, we might as well
accept a 'header' boolean argument to let them turn it off if they

Cheers! -Damian

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