3.3.2 Customizing attribute access

The following methods can be defined to customize the meaning of attribute access (use of, assignment to, or deletion of x.name) for class instances. For performance reasons, these methods are cached in the class object at class definition time; therefore, they cannot be changed after the class definition is executed.

__getattr__ (self, name)
Called when an attribute lookup has not found the attribute in the usual places (i.e. it is not an instance attribute nor is it found in the class tree for self). name is the attribute name. This method should return the (computed) attribute value or raise an AttributeError exception.

Note that if the attribute is found through the normal mechanism, __getattr__() is not called. (This is an intentional asymmetry between __getattr__() and __setattr__().) This is done both for efficiency reasons and because otherwise __setattr__() would have no way to access other attributes of the instance. Note that at least for instance variables, you can fake total control by not inserting any values in the instance attribute dictionary (but instead inserting them in another object).

__setattr__ (self, name, value)
Called when an attribute assignment is attempted. This is called instead of the normal mechanism (i.e. store the value in the instance dictionary). name is the attribute name, value is the value to be assigned to it.

If __setattr__() wants to assign to an instance attribute, it should not simply execute "self.name = value" -- this would cause a recursive call to itself. Instead, it should insert the value in the dictionary of instance attributes, e.g., "self.__dict__[name] = value".

__delattr__ (self, name)
Like __setattr__() but for attribute deletion instead of assignment. This should only be implemented if "del obj.name" is meaningful for the object.

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