Scope and classes

Chris Rebert clp2 at
Wed Aug 19 01:16:07 CEST 2009

On Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM, David<davidshais at> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm trying to understand how scopes work within a class definition.
> I'll quickly illustrate with an example. Say I had the following class
> definition:
> class Abc:
>    message = 'Hello World'
>    def print_message(self):
>        print message
>>>> instance = Abc()
>>>> instance.print_message()
> NameError: global name 'message' not defined
> My question is, why? message is not defined in print_message, but it
> is defined in the enclosing scope (the class)?

A class' scope is never consulted when resolving variable names in its methods.

The scopes consulted are roughly (and in this order):
1. Local variable scope (i.e. of the current function/method)
2. Enclosing functions (if you have functions nested inside other functions)
3. Globals (i.e. module-level variables)
3. Builtins (i.e. the built-in functions and methods, such as len())

To access class-level variables from within instance methods of the
class, you have 2 options:
A. Use the class name, i.e. Abc.message
B. Reference the class indirectly, i.e. self.__class__.message


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