Style question: metaclass self vs cls?

Terry Reedy tjreedy at
Tue Jul 17 00:21:06 CEST 2012

On 7/16/2012 11:29 AM, Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> Here's a style question for you: in a metaclass, what should I call the
> instance parameter of methods, "cls" or "self"?
> class ExampleMeta(type):
>      def method(self, *args): ...
> I'm not quite sure if that feels right. On the one hand, self is the
> ExampleMeta instance alright... but on the other, self is actually a
> class, so I feel I want to call it "cls" rather than "self", which makes
> it more obvious that you're looking at a metaclass.

I have never seriously written a metaclass, but as a reader I would 
prefer 'cls'.

> On the third-hand, it may be confusing that the argument is called "cls"
> but not decorated with classdecorator.

To me, that reinforces 'looking as a metaclass'.

An @classmethod in a class is a class method specific to the particular 
class. A method in a metaclass is a method common to all classes of the 
metaclass. They could be written differently, yet calling the first 
param 'cls' either way seems reasonable.

> I'm very slightly leaning towards writing metaclasses like this:
> class ExampleMeta(type):
>      def __new__(meta, *args): ...
>      def method(cls, *args): ...
> class Example(metaclass=ExampleMeta):
>      def another_method(self): ...

> What do others do?

Not too many people write real metaclasses. Python lets you chose. Have 
you looked at the C code of type? (Not that you are bound by it.)

Terry Jan Reedy

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