Asked  7 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   38 times

I have Python classes, of which I need only one instance at runtime, so it would be sufficient to have the attributes only once per class and not per instance. If there would be more than one instance (which won't happen), all instance should have the same configuration. I wonder which of the following options would be better or more "idiomatic" Python.

Class variables:

class MyController(Controller):

  path = "something/"
  children = [AController, BController]

  def action(self, request):

Instance variables:

class MyController(Controller):

  def __init__(self):
    self.path = "something/"
    self.children = [AController, BController]

  def action(self, request):



If you have only one instance anyway, it's best to make all variables per-instance, simply because they will be accessed (a little bit) faster (one less level of "lookup" due to the "inheritance" from class to instance), and there are no downsides to weigh against this small advantage.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 7 Months ago

This is because of the way Python resolves names with the .. When you write self.list the Python runtime tries to resolve the list name first by looking for it in the instance object, and if it is not found there, then in the class instance.

Let's look into it step by step

  1. Is there a list name into the object self?
    • Yes: Use it! Finish.
    • No: Go to 2.
  2. Is there a list name into the class instance of object self?
    • Yes: Use it! Finish
    • No: Error!

But when you bind a name things are different:

self.list = []
  1. Is there a list name into the object self?
    • Yes: Overwrite it!
    • No: Bind it!

So, that is always an instance variable.

Your first example creates a list into the class instance, as this is the active scope at the time (no self anywhere). But your second example creates a list explicitly in the scope of self.

More interesting would be the example:

class testClass():
    list = ['foo']
    def __init__(self):
        self.list = []

x = testClass()
print x.list
print testClass.list
del x.list
print x.list

That will print:


The moment you delete the instance name the class name is visible through the self reference.

Saturday, June 5, 2021
answered 6 Months ago

No, using static variables for this is not the way to go:

  • If your AppDomain is recycled, all your static variables will be "reset"
  • Static variables don't scale horizontally - if you load-balance your application, a user who hits one server then a different one won't see the data store in the static variables in the first server
  • Most importantly, static variables will be shared by all access to that server... it won't be on a per-user basis at all... whereas from your description, you wouldn't want user X to see user Y's information.

Fundamentally, you have two choices for propagating information around your application:

  • Keep it client-side, so each request gives the information from the previous steps. (This can become unwieldy with large amounts of information, but can be useful for simple cases.)
  • Keep it server-side, ideally in some persistent way (such as a database) with the client providing a session identifier.

If you can use load-balancing to keep all users going to the same server, and if you don't mind sessions being lost when the AppDomain is recycled1 or a server going down, you can keep it in memory, keyed by session ID... but be careful.

1 There may be mechanisms in ASP.NET to survive this, propagating session information from one AppDomain to another - I'm not sure

Thursday, July 15, 2021
answered 5 Months ago

The choice of the type of method depends on other factors.

You have two cases. The first case is when the method has to be part of the class interface - e.g. it has to be called by users, or it has to be overridable in subclasses, or it uses the information in self, or it's likely that in a future version of the software you might need any of those.

In this first case you'd often either use a normal method (this is when the method relates to the instances and not to the class) or a classmethod (when the method relates to the class, e.g. it's an alternative constructor, a method for discovering class features, etc.). In both cases you can use a staticmethod instead if no information from the class/instance is used by the method, but you don't gain anything from doing so. And it would also break your ability to do cls.method(instance, *args) which is already too much for gaining nothing.

The second case is when the method isn't a part of the class in any way. Then it is generally advisable to use a function - the method is not really part of the interface, so it has no place there. Your example seems to be that case unless you want to override the tree/money calculator in subclasses, but that largely depends on what you're doing with it.

A special case is private methods - then you might want to use a method even if it's not really related to the class, private methods aren't part of the interface so it doesn't matter where you put them. Using a staticmethod still doesn't gain you much but there isn't any reason not to use it either.

There's actually one case where staticmethod is very helpful - when you're putting external functions (or other objects) in the class.

class Foo(object):
     trees2money = staticmethod(calculators.trees2money)
     foo = staticmethod(

But when you have a static definition of the class, that's not really great, because you can always do the following instead.

class Foo(object):
     def trees2money(self, trees):
         """Calculator for trees2money, you can override when subclassing"""
         return calculators.trees2money(trees)
     def foo(self):
         """The foo of the object"""

Which gives you a better idea what these objects do when reading the source and even allows you to add documentation. But it might still come in handy when you're building classes dynamically, or you're adding them in a metaclass (creating a wrapper method manually isn't very convenient).

Monday, August 16, 2021
answered 4 Months ago

Looking at a.__dict__ or vars(a) gives you attributes of a, which is an instance. That instance initially has no attributes of its own. The attribute a that you created in your class definition is an attribute of the class itself, not of its instances. Later when you do a.b = 123, you create an attribute just on the instance, so you can see it in the instance __dict__. You will see the attribute a if you look at C.__dict__.

When you do print a.a, Python dynamically finds the attribute a on the class C. It sees that the instance doesn't have an attribute a, so it looks on the class and finds one there. That is the value that is printed. The class attribute is not "copied" to the instance when the instance is created; rather, every individual time you try to read the instance attribute, Python checks to see if it exists on the instance, and if not it looks it up on the class.

Saturday, November 27, 2021
answered 5 Days ago
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