Larry Hastings Larry Hastings - 4 months ago 6
Python Question

Inner Classes: How can I get the outer-class object at construction time?

Consider the following Python (runs in 2.x or 3.x):

class Outer(object):

class Inner(object):
def __init__(self):
print("Inner.self", self)

o = Outer()
i = o.Inner()

I want to get my hands on
while inside
. But:

  • I don't want
    to be an explicit parameter to

  • I want
    to be a class object, not something weird like a closure.

Can you suggest how I might achieve this?

Right now my best idea is to use thread local storage. In my use case, whenever I construct an
, I'm already inside a method on
somewhere, and it wouldn't be a big deal to add

threading.local()["my o object"] = o

to my code.

This gives you an idea of the level of depravity I'm willing to consider.


In Python 2.6, a class decorator that's also a custom descriptor matches the specs you give:

class InnerClassDescriptor(object):
  def __init__(self, cls):
    self.cls = cls
  def __get__(self, instance, outerclass):
    class Wrapper(self.cls):
      outer = instance
    Wrapper.__name__ = self.cls.__name__
    return Wrapper

class Outer(object):
  class Inner(object):
    def __init__(self):
      print self.outer

o = Outer()
i = o.Inner()
print 'Outer is a', type(Outer)
print 'Inner is a', type(o.Inner)

This emits:

<__main__.Outer object at 0x82f90>
Outer is a <type 'type'>
Inner is a <type 'type'>

just to confirm that

o.Inner [[is]] a class object, not something weird like a closure

as per your peculiar specs. Of course it needs to be a different class each time for reentrancy -- even in a single-threaded world, the following:

o1 = Outer()
o2 = Outer()
i1 = o1.Inner
i2 = o2.Inner
print i1(), i2(), i1(), i2()

should work cleanly, and stashing o1 vs o2 anywhere else than in the classes returned by o1.Inner vs o2.Inner (e.g., in TLS) would mean horrible results for this use.

But then you didn't specify "o.Inner has to be exactly the same class object for every possible o that's an instance of Outer", so this code fully meets the specs you did give;-).