Matthew Lund Matthew Lund - 7 months ago 13
Python Question

Is there any Python equivalent to partial classes?

Using "new" style classes (I'm in python 3.2) is there a way to split a class over multiple files? I've got a large class (which really should be a single class from an object-oriented design perspective, considering coupling, etc, but it'd be nice to split over a few files just for ease of editing the class.


If your problem really is just working with a large class in an editor, the first solution I'd actually look for is a better way to break down the problem. The second solution would be a better editor, preferably one with code folding.

That said, there are a couple of ways you might break up a class into multiple files. Python lets you use a folder as a module by putting an in it, which can then import things from other files. We'll use this capability in each solution. Make a folder called, say, bigclass first.

  1. In the folder put the various .py files that will eventually comprise your class. Each should contain functions and variable definitions for the eventual class, not classes. In in the same folder write the following to join them all together.

    class Bigclass(object):
        from classdef1 import foo, bar, baz, quux
        from classdef2 import thing1, thing2
        from classdef3 import magic, moremagic
        # unfortunately, "from classdefn import *" is an error or warning
        num = 42   # add more members here if you like

    This has the advantage that you end up with a single class derived directly from object, which will look nice in your inheritance graphs.

  2. You could use multiple inheritance to combine the various parts of your class. In your individual modules you would write a class definition for Bigclass with parts of the class. Then in your write:

    import classdef1, classdef2, classdef3
    class Bigclass(classdef1.Bigclass, classdef2.Bigclass, classdef3.Bigclass):
        num = 42   # add more members if desired
  3. If the multiple inheritance becomes an issue, you can use single inheritance: just have each class inherit from another one in chain fashion. Assuming you don't define anything in more than one class, the order doesn't matter. For example, would be like:

    import classdef1
    class Bigclass(classdef1.Bigclass):
         # more member defs here

    classdef3 would import Bigclass from classdef2 and add to it, and so on. Your would just import the last one:

    from classdef42 import Bigclass

I'd generally prefer #1 because it's more explicit about what members you're importing from which files but any of these solutions could work for you.

To use the class in any of these scenarios you can just import it, using the folder name as the module name: from bigclass import Bigclass