Using setattr() in python


I am looking for someone to explain the basics of how to use, and not use setattr().

My problem arose trying to use one class method/function to return data that is then put in another method/function. Perhaps a simpler approach would be much better in this case, but I'm trying to understand how classes work/are used. This problem seems to hinge on setattr(), and this is my attempt to make a fairly simple use of this.

Though it's not quite the same problem, I was following Python The Hard Way, ex42—the while loop @ lines 18-41.

I tried writing an \__init__(), and using getattr() instead, thinking perhaps something needed to be in the class' namespace, but this doesn't seem to help.

#! /bin/python2.6

class HolyGrail(object):

    def __init__(self):
        self.start = 'start_at_init'

    # function definition in question:
    # TypeError: 'str' object is not callable

    def run_it(self):
        start = setattr(self, 'name', 'get_thing')
        start =

        # Something wrong here?
        value_returned = start() #I believe this == self.get_thing()

    # alternate function definitions
    # NameError: global name 'start' is not defined

    def __init__(self):
        self.start = 'get_thing'

    def run_it(self):
        go_do_it = getattr(self, start)
        first_output = go_do_it()

    def get_thing(self):
        return "The Knights Who Say ... Ni!"

    def use_it(self, x):
        print x
        print "We want a shrubbery!"

my_instance = HolyGrail()

@Karl Knechtel, @Amber , @Chris Morgan thanks for your help.

I think I can now explain my own answer! This required a better grasp of self as an object for me. It's an instance name that gets tagged up with stuff like attributes.

The class could be a Town, and then. getattr looks for a house using it's name so you are ready to call on it soon, and comes up with a different place if you don't find the house --With getattr a 'name' exists, and you go find it. Makes the step from one function to another dynamic As a bonus you may have a default value, useful to get a fallback default method--connection failed or something?

setattr builds a house and gives it a name so you can call in on it later. You could potentially rebuild this house, or go to a particular place if you are unable to find it. --setattr makes an attribute name and gives, or changes it's value, to be called on later Perhaps a user turns sound off, then future methods don't output any audio.

I could have written my function a number of ways, but there's no need to change any attributes:

def run_it(self):
    yo = getattr(self, 'get_thing')
    answer = yo()
    setattr(self, 'deal_accepted', self.use_it) #really ott
    no = getattr(self, 'deal_accepted')

Properly corrected code:

def run_it(self):
    value_returned = self.get_thing()

This question is tagged with python setattr

~ Asked on 2012-03-05 03:11:40

The Best Answer is


You are setting to the string "get_thing", not the function get_thing.

If you want to be a function, then you should set it to one:

setattr(self, 'name', self.get_thing)

However, that's completely unnecessary for your other code, because you could just call it directly:

value_returned = self.get_thing()

~ Answered on 2012-03-05 03:14:12


The Python docs say all that needs to be said, as far as I can see.

setattr(object, name, value)

This is the counterpart of getattr(). The arguments are an object, a string and an arbitrary value. The string may name an existing attribute or a new attribute. The function assigns the value to the attribute, provided the object allows it. For example, setattr(x, 'foobar', 123) is equivalent to x.foobar = 123.

If this isn't enough, explain what you don't understand.

~ Answered on 2012-03-05 03:15:31

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