Streamlined temporary variable management in Jupyter Notebook, IPython, etc.

A frustrating aspect of working with Jupyter notebooks is debugging a worksheet for half an hour and discovering a carried-over variable name was hanging around in the notebook namespace and causing that cryptic misbehavior. Similarly, it’s incredibly annoying to open a broken notebook that “worked fine” the last time it was used because of random variables lingering in the namespace.

The TempVars context manager helps to avoid these pitfalls by masking selected identifiers from the namespace for the duration of the with suite, then restoring them afterwards (or not, if desired). Further, any variables created within the managed context that match the criteria passed to TempVars are removed from the namespace upon exiting, ensuring these values do not spuriously contribute to following code. For convenience, all variables that were removed from the namespace at both entry and exit are stored with their values for later reference; see Inspecting Masked Variables and Inspecting Discarded Temporary Variables, respectively, in the usage instructions.

NOTE: Due to the way Python handles non-global variable scopes, TempVars can only be used at the global scope. Any attempt to use TempVars in non-global contexts will result in a RuntimeError. Viable use-cases include Jupyter notebooks, the IPython and basic Python REPLs, and the outermost scope of executed and imported modules. Preliminary testing indicates it also works with cauldron-notebook, though it may be less helpful there due to the step-local scoping paradigm used (shared values must be passed around via cauldron.shared).

NOTE ALSO that tempvars is Python 3 only.

Install with pip install tempvars, import as from tempvars import TempVars, and use as with TempVars({pattern args}):.

The project source is hosted on GitHub. Bug reports and feature requests are welcomed at the Issues page there. If you like the idea of an existing enhancement in the Issues list, please comment to say so; it’ll help prioritization.