Using functions with "action-at-a-distance" through sys.settraceback may be okay for an obscure feature that can't be had any other way yet doesn't merit changes to the language, but that's not the situation for decorators. The widely held view here is that decorators need to be added as a syntactic feature to avoid the problems with the postfix notation used in 2.2 and 2.3. Decorators are slated to be an important new language feature and their design needs to be forward-looking, not constrained by what can be implemented in 2.3.
The decorate() proposal was that no new syntax be implemented -- instead a magic function that used introspection to manipulate the following function. Both Jp Calderone and Philip Eby produced implementations of functions that did this. Guido was pretty firmly against this -- with no new syntax, the magicness of a function like this is extremely high:
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Now we have our logit decorator in production, but when some parts of our application are considered critical, failure might be something that needs more immediate attention. Let’s say sometimes you want to just log to a file. Other times you want an email sent, so the problem is brought to your attention, and still keep a log for your own records. This is a case for using inheritence, but so far we’ve only seen functions being used to build decorators.
Did you get it? We just applied the previously learned principles. This is exactly what the decorators do in Python! They wrap a function and modify its behaviour in one way or the another. Now you might be wondering that we did not use the @ anywhere in our code? That is just a short way of making up a decorated function. Here is how we could have run the previous code sample using @.
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