Idea about method parameters

Markus Schaber markus at
Tue Sep 25 00:38:54 CEST 2001

Wolfgang Grafen <wolfgang.grafen at> schrub:

> Don't think you cannot do it already!
>>>> class Autoinit:
> ...     def __init__(self,**a):
> ...         self.__dict__.update(a)
> ...
>>>> a=Autoinit(a=1,b=2,c=3)
>>>> a.a
> 1
>>>> a.b
> 2
>>>> a.c
> 3
>>>> class A(Autoinit):
> ...   def __call__(self):
> ...     print self.a,self.b,self.c
> ...
>>>> a=A(a=1,b=2,c=3)
>>>> a()
> 1 2 3

Nice idea, especially when your classes mainly work as Attribute 
Containers, but I have some objections:

1. This way you don't have any control what the caller sets - he just 
might set anything. Okay, in Python, he really can do anything he wants 
with your object, but sometimes it is helpful to have some hints by the 
compiler or interpreter, especially to find typos (useful when you have 
lots of long-named parameters). And if you have to test the contents of 
**a "by hand", you don't save any work, and it gets less readable. 

Assume you have more than one place in your program where that 
constructor/method gets called, one of them has a typo in one parameter 
name, and so you occasionally corrupt parts of your database. Or the 
misspelled parameter sets an attribute that is never looked at again, 
and all the following code uses the old value from the correctly 
spelled attribute that was created before (only applies to 
non-constructor methods)

2. Messing with __dict__ seems to be a "dirty hack" in my eyes, and 
doesn't produce readable code (you cannot exactly guess what gets 
changed in the object, especially when it isn't the constructor, but 
another method.)

3. You kick the possibility to give positional parameters

4. You kick the possibility to give default value

5. You have to explicitly document what your caller can give you - a 
"normal" parameter list in a def: with sensible parameter names (and 
maybe useful default values) usually is a very useful bit of 
documentation, especially when you know the main idea and just forgot 
some specific spelling detail or so.

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