PEP 542 – Dot Notation Assignment In Function Header
- Markus Meskanen <markusmeskanen at gmail.com>
- Standards Track
- Python-Dev message
Function definitions only allow simple function names to be used, even though functions are assignable first class objects.
This PEP proposes adding support for assigning a function to a class or instance attribute directly in the function definition’s header by using the dot notation to separate the object from the function’s name.
Although a similar feature, this PEP does not address general assignment to anything that supports assignment, such as dict keys and list indexes.
Currently if a function needs to be assigned to a class or instance attribute, it requires an additional assignment statement to be made:
class MyClass: ... my_instance = MyClass() def my_function(self): ... # Assign to class attribute MyClass.my_function = my_function # Or assign to instance attribute my_instance.my_function = my_function
While this isn’t usually an inconvenience, using dot notation to assign directly in the function’s header would greatly simplify this:
class MyClass: ... my_instance = MyClass() # Assign to class attribute def MyClass.my_function(self): ... # Or assign to instance attribute def my_instance.my_function(self): ...
There are multiple reasons to use this functionality over a standard class method, for example when the class is referenced inside the function’s header (such as with decorators and typing). This is also useful when an instance requires a callback attribute:
class Menu: def __init__(self, items=None, select_callback=None): self.items = items if items is not None else  self.select_callback = select_callback my_menu = Menu([item1, item2]) def my_menu.select_callback(item_index, menu): print(menu.items[item_index])
As opposed to:
my_menu = Menu([item1, item2]) def select_callback(item_index, menu): print(menu.items[item_index]) my_menu.select_callback = select_callback
Or defining them in an “unnatural” order:
def select_callback(item_index, menu): print(menu.items[item_index]) my_menu = Menu([item1, item2], select_callback)
It reads better than the “unnatural” way, since you already know at the time of the function definition what it’s goig to be used for. It also saves one line of code while removing visual complexity.
The feature would also avoid leaving the function’s name into the global namespace:
eggs = 'something' def Spam.eggs(self): ... def Cheese.eggs(self): ... assert eggs == 'something'
Ideally this would be just syntastic sugar:
def x.y(): ... # Equals to def y(): ... x.y = y
Similar to how decorators are syntastic sugar:
@decorate def f(): ... # Equals to def f(): ... f = decorate(f)
The __name__ would follow the principles of a normal function:
class MyClass: def my_function1(self): ... def MyClass.my_function2(self): ... assert my_function1.__name__ == 'my_function1' assert my_function2.__name__ == 'my_function2'
The grammar would use dotted_name to support chaining of attributes:
def Person.name.fset(self, value): self._name = value
This PEP is fully backwards compatible.
This document has been placed in the public domain.
Last modified: 2021-02-09 16:54:26 GMT