How do I override __getattr__ without breaking the default behavior?

Question:

How do I override the __getattr__ method of a class without breaking the default behavior?

Asked By: sheats

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Answers:

Overriding __getattr__ should be fine — __getattr__ is only called as a last resort i.e. if there are no attributes in the instance that match the name. For instance, if you access foo.bar, then __getattr__ will only be called if foo has no attribute called bar. If the attribute is one you don’t want to handle, raise AttributeError:

class Foo(object):
    def __getattr__(self, name):
        if some_predicate(name):
            # ...
        else:
            # Default behaviour
            raise AttributeError

However, unlike __getattr__, __getattribute__ will be called first (only works for new style classes i.e. those that inherit from object). In this case, you can preserve default behaviour like so:

class Foo(object):
    def __getattribute__(self, name):
        if some_predicate(name):
            # ...
        else:
            # Default behaviour
            return object.__getattribute__(self, name)

See the Python docs for more.

Answered By: Michael Williamson
class A(object):
    def __init__(self):
        self.a = 42

    def __getattr__(self, attr):
        if attr in ["b", "c"]:
            return 42
        raise AttributeError("%r object has no attribute %r" %
                             (self.__class__.__name__, attr))

>>> a = A()
>>> a.a
42
>>> a.b
42
>>> a.missing
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<stdin>", line 8, in __getattr__
AttributeError: 'A' object has no attribute 'missing'
>>> hasattr(a, "b")
True
>>> hasattr(a, "missing")
False
Answered By: Roger Pate

To extend Michael answer, if you want to maintain the default behavior using __getattr__, you can do it like so:

class Foo(object):
    def __getattr__(self, name):
        if name == 'something':
            return 42

        # Default behaviour
        return self.__getattribute__(name)

Now the exception message is more descriptive:

>>> foo.something
42
>>> foo.error
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<stdin>", line 5, in __getattr__
AttributeError: 'Foo' object has no attribute 'error'
Answered By: José Luis
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