Python Programming/Reflection

< Python Programming

A Python script can find out about the type, class, attributes and methods of an object. This is referred to as reflection or introspection. See also Metaclasses.

Reflection-enabling functions include type(), isinstance(), callable(), dir() and getattr().

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TypeEdit

The type method enables to find out about the type of an object. The following tests return True:

  • type(3) is int
  • type(3.0) is float
  • type(10**10) is long # Python 2
  • type(1 + 1j) is complex
  • type('Hello') is str
  • type([1, 2]) is list
  • type([1, [2, 'Hello']]) is list
  • type({'city': 'Paris'}) is dict
  • type((1,2)) is tuple
  • type(set()) is set
  • type(frozenset()) is frozenset
  • ----
  • type(3).__name__ == "int"
  • type('Hello').__name__ == "str"
  • ----
  • import types, re, Tkinter # For the following examples
  • type(re) is types.ModuleType
  • type(re.sub) is types.FunctionType
  • type(Tkinter.Frame) is types.ClassType
  • type(Tkinter.Frame).__name__ == "classobj"
  • type(Tkinter.Frame()).__name__ == "instance"
  • type(re.compile('myregex')).__name__ == "SRE_Pattern"
  • type(type(3)) is types.TypeType

The type function disregards class inheritance: "type(3) is object" yields False while "isinstance(3, object)" yields True.

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IsinstanceEdit

Determines whether an object is an instance of a class.

The following tests return True:

  • isinstance(3, int)
  • isinstance([1, 2], list)
  • isinstance(3, object)
  • isinstance([1, 2], object)
  • import Tkinter; isinstance(Tkinter.Frame(), Tkinter.Frame)
  • import Tkinter; Tkinter.Frame().__class__.__name__ == "Frame"

Note that isinstance provides a weaker condition than a comparison using #Type.

Function isinstance and a user-defined class:

class Plant: pass                        # Dummy class
class Tree(Plant): pass                  # Dummy class derived from Plant
tree = Tree()                            # A new instance of Tree class
print isinstance(tree, Tree)             # True
print isinstance(tree, Plant)            # True
print isinstance(tree, object)           # True
print type(tree) is Tree                 # False
print type(tree).__name__ == "instance"  # True
print tree.__class__.__name__ == "Tree"  # True

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IssubclassEdit

Determines whether a class is a subclass of another class. Pertains to classes, not their instances.

class Plant: pass                        # Dummy class
class Tree(Plant): pass                  # Dummy class derived from Plant
tree = Tree()                            # A new instance of Tree class
print issubclass(Tree, Plant)            # True
print issubclass(Tree, object)           # False in Python 2
print issubclass(int, object)            # True
print issubclass(tree, Plant)            # Error - tree is not a class

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Duck typingEdit

Duck typing provides an indirect means of reflection. It is a technique consisting in using an object as if it was of the requested type, while catching exceptions resulting from the object not supporting some of the features of the class or type.

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CallableEdit

For an object, determines whether it can be called. A class can be made callable by providing a __call__() method.

Examples:

  • callable(2)
    • Returns False. Ditto for callable("Hello") and callable([1, 2]).
  • callable([1,2].pop)
    • Returns True, as pop without "()" returns a function object.
  • callable([1,2].pop())
    • Returns False, as [1,2].pop() returns 2 rather than a function object.

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DirEdit

Returns the list of names of attributes of an object, which includes methods. Is somewhat heuristic and possibly incomplete, as per python.org.

Examples:

  • dir(3)
  • dir("Hello")
  • dir([1, 2])
  • import re; dir(re)
    • Lists names of functions and other objects available in the re module for regular expressions.

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GetattrEdit

Returns the value of an attribute of an object, given the attribute name passed as a string.

An example:

  • getattr(3, "imag")

The list of attributes of an object can be obtained using #Dir.

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KeywordsEdit

A list of Python keywords can be obtained from Python:

import keyword
pykeywords = keyword.kwlist
print keyword.iskeyword("if")      # True
print keyword.iskeyword("True")    # False

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Built-insEdit

A list of Python built-in objects and functions can be obtained from Python:

print dir(__builtins__)           # Output the list
print type(__builtins__.list)     # = <type 'type'>
print type(__builtins__.open)     # = <type 'builtin_function_or_method'>
print list is __builtins__.list   # True
print open is __builtins__.open   # True

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External linksEdit