Our programs get more interesting if they don’t do exactly the same thing every time they run. One way to make them more interesting is to get input from the user. Luckily, in Python there is a built-in function to accomplish this task. It is called raw_input.


There is another function for input, called simply input, but raw_input is preferable for reasons that we won’t go into here.

n = raw_input("Please enter your name: ")

The raw_input function allows the user to provide a prompt string. When the function is evaluated, the prompt is shown (in the browser, look for a popup window). The user of the program can enter the name and press return. When this happens the text that has been entered is returned from the input function, and in this case assigned to the variable n. Run this example a few times and try some different names in the input box that appears.

It is very important to note that the raw_input function returns a string value. Even if you asked the user to enter their age, you would get back a string like "17". It would be your job, as the programmer, to convert that string into an int or a float, using the int or float converter functions we saw earlier.

Here’s is a program that turns a number of seconds into more human readable counts of hours, minutes, and seconds. An call to raw_input allows the user to enter the number of seconds. Then we convert that string to an integer. From there we use the division and modulus operators to compute teh results.

The variable str_seconds will refer to the string that is entered by the user. As we said above, even though this string may be 7684, it is still a string and not a number. To convert it to an integer, we use the int function. The result is referred to by total_secs. Now, each time you run the program, you can enter a new value for the number of seconds to be converted.

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