Until Python 2.5, the try statement came in two flavours. You could use a finally block to ensure that code is always executed, or one or more except blocks to catch specific exceptions. You couldn't combine both except blocks and a finally block, because generating the right bytecode for the combined version was complicated and it wasn't clear what the semantics of the combined statement should be.
Guido van Rossum spent some time working with Java, which does support the equivalent of combining except blocks and a finally block, and this clarified what the statement should mean. In Python 2.5, you can now write:
try: block-1 ... except Exception1: handler-1 ... except Exception2: handler-2 ... else: else-block finally: final-block
The code in block-1 is executed. If the code raises an exception, the various except blocks are tested: if the exception is of class Exception1, handler-1 is executed; otherwise if it's of class Exception2, handler-2 is executed, and so forth. If no exception is raised, the else-block is executed.
No matter what happened previously, the final-block is executed once the code block is complete and any raised exceptions handled. Even if there's an error in an exception handler or the else-block and a new exception is raised, the code in the final-block is still run.
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