Method decorators in Python

By : Akshar Raaj

This post assumes you have a basic understanding of Decorators. If not, you can read our introductory post on Decorator

Method decorators

In introductory post, we learnt about function decorators. In this post we'll see method decorators:

Let's write a Class and a method on it which we will decorate later.

>>> class Person(object):
...     def __init__(self, name):
... = name
...     def print_name(self):
...         print

Create a Person instance. p1 refers to the created instance.

>>> p1 = Person("eddard")

Call print_name on Person.

>>> p1.print_name()
eddard     #output

Something worth noting about previous Python statement. Quoting from docs

"The method function is declared with an explicit first argument representing the object, which is provided implicitly by the call"

It means, call p1.print_name() implicitly passes p1 to method print_name. And so self in print_name starts referring to our created Person instance.

There is another way in which print_name() can be called on p1. Knowing this way would make understanding method decorator easier.

>>> Person.print_name(p1)
eddard     #output

In last statement, print_name() wasn't called on p1, but instead called on class Person. So p1 couldn't be passed to print_name() implicitly. It had to be done explicitly.

This paragraph is important. We can think a method as just a function. If provided with correct arguments, it would work similar to any other function. If called on the instance, instance is passed implicitly as the argument and so method/function works. If called on class, instance has to be passed explicitly and then method/function works. So, most of the things which can be done with a function can be done with the method. Let's play around with it a little.

>>> some_func = Person.print_name
>>> some_func(p1)
eddard     #output

>>> Person.another_print_name_reference = Person.print_name
>>> Person.another_print_name_reference(p1)
eddard     #output

Scenario for using decorator

We want Person.print_name code to be executed only if name of the Person instance is not "joffrey". Let's write the decorator for it.

>>> def decorate_method(method):
...     def inner(person_instance):
...         if == "joffrey":
...             print "What a stupid name, I won't print name for you"
...         else:
...             method(person_instance)
...     return inner
Structure of decorate_method
  • Signature of function created by the decorator, which in our case is function named inner, should be similar to signature of the function it is trying to decorate.
  • Here we are trying to decorate a method, print_name, which ultimately is a function. And this function expects a Person instance as its only argument.
  • So inner is defined to expect one argument too.

Let's use this decorator without using decorator syntax.

>>> Person.decorated_print_name = decorate_method(Person.print_name)
>>> p1.decorated_print_name()
eddard     #output

>>> p2 = Person("joffrey")
>>> p2.decorated_print_name()
What a stupid name, I won't print name for you

Let's use this decorator with decorator syntax.

>>> class Person(object):
...     def __init__(self, name):
... = name
...     @decorate_method
...     def print_name(self):
...         print

So, this was similar to saying:

Person.print_name = decorate_method(Person.print_name)

Using our decorated method:

>>> p1 = Person("eddard")
>>> p1.print_name()
>>> p2 = Person("joffrey")
>>> p2.print_name()
What a stupid name, I won't print name for you

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Topics : python Decorators


Sukumaran 1st Aug., 2014

Hi Akshar Raaj

I started reading your python stuffs and it looks to be very very good. I did some of the small small application using python and python tkinter, but I didn't try to use any of the design pattern. When I started to learn singleton, I came across your blog and feels that it is very very nice and very good one to understand internal concepts.

Thanks for your post and expects more from you
Please let me know if you want any help. May be I can help you

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