In general, functions in Python may also have side effects rather than just turning an input into an output. The print() function is a basic example of this: it returns None while having the side effect of outputting something to the console. However, to understand decorators, it is enough to think about functions as something that turns given arguments into a value.

In this snippet we have a class hierarchy with a SimpleMessage at the top. The SimpleMessage class has a constructor that accepts a content string as well as two methods: GetMessage; and, PrintMessage. Down the hierarchy we have three subclasses: ExcitedMessage; QuizzicalMessage; and, ExcitedAndQuizzicalMessage. The only difference in the subclasses is that they override the SimpleMessage constructor to change the content string and append various exclamations. When we instantiate various message objects, using the same content string, and iterate over them, each has their own unique output.

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The primary objection to this form is that it requires "peeking inside" the method body to determine the decorators. In addition, even though the code is inside the method body, it is not executed when the method is run. Guido felt that docstrings were not a good counter-example, and that it was quite possible that a 'docstring' decorator could help move the docstring to outside the function body.
The discussion continued on and off on python-dev from February 2002 through July 2004. Hundreds and hundreds of posts were made, with people proposing many possible syntax variations. Guido took a list of proposals to EuroPython 2004 [7], where a discussion took place. Subsequent to this, he decided that we'd have the Java-style [10] @decorator syntax, and this appeared for the first time in 2.4a2. Barry Warsaw named this the 'pie-decorator' syntax, in honor of the Pie-thon Parrot shootout which occurred around the same time as the decorator syntax, and because the @ looks a little like a pie. Guido outlined his case [8] on Python-dev, including this piece [9] on some of the (many) rejected forms.

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