|Python Language Reference Manual|
by Guido van Rossum and Fred L. Drake, Jr.
Paperback (6"x9"), 120 pages
RRP £12.95 ($19.95)
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By default, instances of both old and new-style classes have a dictionary for attribute storage. This wastes space for objects having very few instance variables. The space consumption can become acute when creating large numbers of instances.
The default can be overridden by defining __slots__ in a new-style class definition. The __slots__ declaration takes a sequence of instance variables and reserves just enough space in each instance to hold a value for each variable. Space is saved because __dict__ is not created for each instance.
- This class variable can be assigned a string, iterable, or sequence of strings with variable names used by instances. If defined in a new-style class, __slots__ reserves space for the declared variables and prevents the automatic creation of __dict__ and __weakref__ for each instance. (Added in Python version 2.2)
Notes on using __slots__
Without a __dict__ variable, instances cannot be assigned new
variables not listed in the __slots__ definition. Attempts to assign
to an unlisted variable name raise an
AttributeError. If dynamic assignment of new variables is desired, then add
'__dict__'to the sequence of strings in the __slots__ declaration. (Changed in Python version 2.3)
Without a __weakref__ variable for each instance, classes
defining __slots__ do not support weak references to its instances.
If weak reference support is needed, then add
'__weakref__'to the sequence of strings in the __slots__ declaration. (Changed in Python version 2.3)
- __slots__ are implemented at the class level by creating descriptors ( 188.8.131.52) for each variable name. As a result, class attributes cannot be used to set default values for instance variables defined by __slots__; otherwise, the class attribute would overwrite the descriptor assignment.
- If a class defines a slot also defined in a base class, the instance variable defined by the base class slot is inaccessible (except by retrieving its descriptor directly from the base class). This renders the meaning of the program undefined. In the future, a check may be added to prevent this.
- The action of a __slots__ declaration is limited to the class where it is defined. As a result, subclasses will have a __dict__ unless they also define __slots__.
__slots__ do not work for classes derived from "variable-length"
built-in types such as
- Any non-string iterable may be assigned to __slots__. Mappings may also be used; however, in the future, special meaning may be assigned to the values corresponding to each key.
|ISBN 0954161785||Python Language Reference Manual||See the print edition|