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How to delay a Python loop

In this blog post, I will run through 3 different ways to execute a delayed Python loop. In these examples, we will aim to run the loop once every minute.
To show the delay, we will print out the current datetime using the datetime module.

1 – Sleep
The sleep function from Python’s time module pauses the Python execution by the number of seconds inputted. The example below pauses the script for 60 seconds.

The above script has a 60 second delay between the end of a loop and the start of the next. However, what if we wanted to execute the next loop 60 seconds after the start of the previous loop.
In other words, how do we start the loop at the same time every minute.

2 – IF Statement
To do this we will switch to a WHILE loop and use an IF statement to see how many seconds have passed in the current minute. A WHILE loop is used because it will execute until i = 10, until the datetime has been printed 10 times. The IF statement checks the time to see when the print statement should be executed.
We will print the datetime every time the minutes changes. The Sleep function will continue to be used as the loop would execute multiple times in one second if we didn’t.

date_time[-2:] – is the last two characters of our datetime variable which is the number of seconds that have passed this minute.

3 – Task Scheduler
The previous two options are good for executing a loop a few times, ten in our case. If we wanted to execute a python script continuously without expiring, we could use the above examples with an infinite appending loop.
However, if one loop errors the script will stop. Therefore, we want to execute the entire Python script once a minute using an external trigger. This is where we can use Task Scheduler.

Task Scheduler can execute a python script from source but it is often easier to use a batch file. The batch file includes the location of the python application (python.exe) and the location of the python script (.py). For more detail on using Task Scheduler and batch files to run Python scripts, please see the following datatofish post – https://datatofish.com/python-script-windows-scheduler

Our batch file is:

To demonstrate Task Scheduler, I’m going to run the following Python code every minute.
This code uses Pandas to produce a blank CSV file, but the name of CSV file is the datetime the script was run.

These following screenshots show the triggers and actions used.

This produced the following CSV files, we can see that the files takes 1 – 4 seconds to create.

In summary we have seen three different ways to delay a Python loop, two using loops inside Python and one using Task Scheduler. All can be used depending on what kind of delay is best.

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Team Purple Frog specialise in designing and implementing Microsoft Data Analytics solutions, including Data Warehouses, Cubes, SQL Server, SSIS, ADF, SSAS, Power BI, MDX, DAX, Machine Learning and more.

This is a collection of thoughts, ramblings and ideas that we think would be useful to share.


Alex Whittles
Reiss McSporran
Jeet Kainth
Jon Fletcher
Nick Edwards

Data Platform MVP

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