confused about __str__ vs. __repr__

Neal Becker ndbecker2 at
Thu Dec 18 16:49:27 CET 2008

Diez B. Roggisch wrote:

> Neal Becker wrote:
>> Tino Wildenhain wrote:
>>> Neal Becker wrote:
>>> ...
>>>>>> So if __str__ is "meant for human eyes", then why isn't print using
>>>>>> it!
>>>>> it is:
>>>>>  > print x
>>>>> str
>>>>> but dict just uses repr() for all its childs to print.
>>>>> T.
>>>> That makes no sense to me.  If I call 'print' on a container, why
>>>> wouldn't it recursively  print on the contained objects?  Since print
>>>> means call str, printing a container should recursively call str on the
>>>> objects.
>>> Every class is free on how to best implement __str__, you will find
>>> the same behavior on tuple and list as well.
>>> Maybe its discussable to change the implementation sensibly, best if you
>>> would come with a proposal? Perhaps pprint.pprint is a starting point?
>>> Regards
>>> Tino
>> First, I'd like to know if there is a rationale for the current design.
>> Am I correct in thinking this is a defect?
> I don't think so. First of all, there is no "generic" way of printing a
> collection. And the current implementation tries to give an overview what
> is contained in the collection, without trying to make it "fancy" - any
> such thing needed to be hand-coded anyway.
> Using repr for that is better suited, as for example string keys are
> printed with quotes around them - making clear what they are, and not
> irritating the user through potentially contained spaces or even things
> that look as if they are python objects.
> For example, if repr *wasn't* used,
> { "{foo=bar}" : "baz"}
> would be printed
> {{foo=bar} : baz}
> Which is *not* what the dictionary actually contains!
> The same goes for unicode-objects. They appear with their "funny"
> characters as \xXX-codes - instead of bailing out on you with
> unicode-errors.
> So, IMHO the current behavior is desired.

So if I want to overload something in my custom class, so that I get a nice string whether it's printed directly, or as part of a container, what is the recommendation?  Overload both __str__ and __repr__?

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