student student - 1 month ago 6
Python Question

Writing Non-Data Descriptor in Python

I am learning about descriptors in python. I want to write a non-data descriptor but the class having the descriptor as its classmethod doesn't call the

__get__
spacial method when i call the classmethod. This is my example (without the
__set__
):

class D(object):

"The Descriptor"

def __init__(self, x = 1395):
self.x = x

def __get__(self, instance, owner):
print "getting", self.x
return self.x


class C(object):

d = D()

def __init__(self, d):
self.d = d


And here is how i call it:

>>>c = C(4)
>>>c.d
4


The
__get__
of the descriptor class gets no call. But when i also set a
__set__
the descriptor seems to get activated:

class D(object):

"The Descriptor"

def __init__(self, x = 1395):
self.x = x

def __get__(self, instance, owner):
print "getting", self.x
return self.x

def __set__(self, instance, value):
print "setting", self.x
self.x = value

class C(object):

d = D()

def __init__(self, d):
self.d = d


Now i create a
C
instance:

>>> c=C(4)
setting 1395
>>> c.d
getting 4
4


and both of
__get__, __set__
are present. It seems that i am missing some basic concepts about descriptors and how they can be used. Can anyone explain this behavior of
__get__, __set__
?

Answer

You successfully created a proper non-data descriptor, but you then mask the d attribute by setting an instance attribute.

Because it is a non-data descriptor, the instance attribute wins in this case. When you add a __set__ method, you turn your descriptor into a data descriptor, and data descriptors are always applied even if there is an instance attribute.

From the Descriptor Howto:

The default behavior for attribute access is to get, set, or delete the attribute from an object’s dictionary. For instance, a.x has a lookup chain starting with a.__dict__['x'], then type(a).__dict__['x'], and continuing through the base classes of type(a) excluding metaclasses. If the looked-up value is an object defining one of the descriptor methods, then Python may override the default behavior and invoke the descriptor method instead. Where this occurs in the precedence chain depends on which descriptor methods were defined.

and

If an object defines both __get__() and __set__(), it is considered a data descriptor. Descriptors that only define __get__() are called non-data descriptors (they are typically used for methods but other uses are possible).

Data and non-data descriptors differ in how overrides are calculated with respect to entries in an instance’s dictionary. If an instance’s dictionary has an entry with the same name as a data descriptor, the data descriptor takes precedence. If an instance’s dictionary has an entry with the same name as a non-data descriptor, the dictionary entry takes precedence.

If you remove the d instance attribute (never set it or delete it from the instance), the descriptor object gets invoked:

>>> class D(object):
...     def __init__(self, x = 1395):
...         self.x = x
...     def __get__(self, instance, owner):
...         print "getting", self.x
...         return self.x
...
>>> class C(object):
...     d = D()
...
>>> c = C()
>>> c.d
getting 1395
1395

Add an instance attribute again and the descriptor is ignored because the instance attribute wins:

>>> c.d = 42  # setting an instance attribute
>>> c.d
42
>>> del c.d   # deleting it again
>>> c.d
getting 1395
1395

Also see the Invoking Descriptors documentation in the Python Datamodel reference.