Can print() be reloaded for a user defined class?

Dave Angel davea at
Mon Sep 21 03:08:39 CEST 2009

Peng Yu wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 9:19 AM, Dave Angel <davea at> wrote:
>> Peng Yu wrote:
>>> <snip>
>>>> you might use:
>>> Is __repr__ =tr__ copy by reference or by value? If I change
>>> __str__ later on, will __repr__ be changed automatically?
>>> Regards,
>>> Peng
>> Reference or value?  Neither one.  This assignment is no different than any
>> other attribute assignment in Python.  Technically, it binds the name
>> __repr__ to the function object already bound by __str__.  You now have a
>> second name pointing to the same object.  Rebinding one of those names  to
>> yet another different object won't affect the other name.
>> name1 =this is a test"
>> name2 =ame1
>> name1 =another string"           #this has no effect on name2
>> print name1, name2
> I am more familiar with C++ than python. So I need to connect python
> concept to C++ concept so that I can understand it better.
> name1 and name are all references (in the C++ sense), right?
> __repr__  and __str__ are references (in the C++ sense) to functions
> and both of them could refer to the same function or two different
> ones, right?
> Regards,
> Peng
By limiting yourself to C++ terminology, you're restricting how well you 
can understand it.  But I'll try.

C++ references cannot change.  And C++ functions cannot be created on 
the fly.  But otherwise, these names work kinda like C++ references.

Perhaps it'd help if I try to describe how some of this stuff works.  
For now, let's skip classes entirely, and just deal with top-level stuff 
(global scope).

Let's say we're in a module called  So there's an object 
called mymodule, with a dictionary in it containing some attributes  
This dictionary works just like any dictionary you might define, but 
it's "under the covers," so to speak.  You add stuff to this dictionary 
by doing an "assignment."

name1= "value"

creates a new string object, and adds a dictionary item with key of 
"name1" and value of  pointer-to-the-string-object

name2 = 42

does the same thing, but it's an int object.

name1 = name2   doesn't create a new dictionary item, since it's already 
there.  But it changes the value of the item from ptr-to-int  to 
ptr-to-string.  At this point, the string object doesn't have any refs, 
so it probably gets freed.  And the int object has two refs.  It doesn't 
know what they are, just that the count is two.

def  myfunct():
      return 12

creates a code object, and adds a dictionary item with key of "myfunct" 
and value of pointer-to-the-code-object.

otherfunct = myfunct   creates a new dictionary item with the same value 
as the existing one.  And ref count goes to two.

Notice that there's nothing stopping you from doing

name1 = myfunct

and now name1 acts like a function, instead of a string or an int.  All 
these things are first-class objects.

One more piece for today's lesson:

import othermodule

This creates an entry in our module dictionary with key of "othermodule" 
and value pointing to the imported module.

Now,  we can get at our own symbols by  name1, or name2.  And we can get 
at symbols from othermodule by   othermodule.name3

This simply finds othermodule in the current global dictionary, then 
looks up name3 in that othermodule's dictionary.

Clearer ?

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