Python breakpoint()

Filed Under: Python

Python breakpoint() is a new built-in function introduced in Python 3.7. Python code debugging has always been a painful process because of tight coupling between the actual code and the debugging module code.

For example, if you are using pdb debugger, then you will have to call pdb.set_trace() in your program code. If you want to use any other debugger, let’s say web-pdb then you will have to remove all the code related to pdb and add web_pdb.set_trace() method. This causes a huge overhead in using python debugger and make the python code hard to debug and maintain.

That’s why Python 3.7 has introduced breakpoint() method that allows us to write loosely coupled debugging code.

Python breakpoint()

Python breakpoint() function calls sys.breakpointhook() function. By default, sys.breakpointhook() calls pdb.set_trace() function. So at the very least, using breakpoint() provide convinience in using a debugger because we don’t have to explicitly import pdb module.

Let’s look at a simple example of breakpoint() function usage. We have a python script python_breakpoint_examples.py with following code.


x = 10
y = 'Hi'
z = 'Hello'
print(y)

breakpoint()

print(z)

When we execute this script, PDB debugger console opens up.


$python3.7 python_breakpoint_examples.py
Hi
> /Users/pankaj/Documents/PycharmProjects/BasicPython/basic_examples/python_breakpoint_examples.py(8)()
-> print(z)
(Pdb) c
Hello
$

python breakpoint example

Python breakpoint() – Stop Debugging

Python sys.breakpointhook() function uses environment variable PYTHONBREAKPOINT to configure the debugger. If unset, default PDB debugger is used.

If it’s set to “0” then the function returns immediately and no code debugging is performed. It’s very helpful when we want to run our code without debugging.


$PYTHONBREAKPOINT=0 python3.7 python_breakpoint_examples.py
Hi
Hello
$

python breakpoint stop debugging

Python breakpoint() – Change Debugger Module

We can use PYTHONBREAKPOINT environment variable to provide the debugger method to be called by breakpoint() function. This is very helpful because we can change the debugger module easily without making any code change.

Let’s say we want to use web-pdb debugger. We can easily hook it into our program using PYTHONBREAKPOINT=web_pdb.set_trace.

First of all, make sure that web-pdb is installed. You can install it using pip3.7 install web-pdb command.

According to web-pdb documentation, it’s compatible with the new breakpoint() function added in Python 3.7.

$PYTHONBREAKPOINT=web_pdb.set_trace python3.7 python_breakpoint_examples.py
Hi
2018-08-10 12:49:54,339: root - web_console:110 - CRITICAL - Web-PDB: starting web-server on pankaj:5555...

python breakpoint change debugger

Open the web-server URL provided in the console log and you will see the debugger window like below image.

python web-pdb debugger

We can issue PDB commands using this UI, you can send command “c” to continue and complete our program.

Summary

Python breakpoint() function is a very helpful addition to python debugging feature. It’s recommended to use this for debugging so that you can easily hook other third-party debuggers on the fly. It also provides an easy option to disable debugger and runs the program normally.

You can checkout more Python examples from our GitHub Repository.

Reference: Official Documentation

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