Franck Mesirard Franck Mesirard - 2 months ago 15
Python Question

Class method differences in Python: bound, unbound and static

What is the difference between the following class methods?

Is it that one is static and the other is not?

class Test(object):
def method_one(self):
print "Called method_one"

def method_two():
print "Called method_two"

a_test = Test()
a_test.method_one()
a_test.method_two()

Answer

In Python, there is a distinction between bound and unbound methods.

Basically, a call to a member function (like method_one), a bound function

a_test.method_one()

is translated to

Test.method_one(a_test)

i.e. a call to an unbound method. Because of that, a call to your version of method_two will fail with a TypeError

>>> a_test = Test() 
>>> a_test.method_two()
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
TypeError: method_two() takes no arguments (1 given)

You can change the behavior of a method using a decorator

class Test(object):
    def method_one(self):
        print "Called method_one"

    @staticmethod
    def method_two():
        print "Called method two"

The decorator tells the built-in default metaclass type (the class of a class, cf. this question) to not create bound methods for method_two.

Now, you can invoke static method both on an instance or on the class directly:

>>> a_test = Test()
>>> a_test.method_one()
Called method_one
>>> a_test.method_two()
Called method_two
>>> Test.method_two()
Called method_two