There are a large number of structures which are used in the definition of object types for Python. This section describes these structures and how they are used.
All Python objects ultimately share a small number of fields at the beginning of the object’s representation in memory. These are represented by the PyObject and PyVarObject types, which are defined, in turn, by the expansions of some macros also used, whether directly or indirectly, in the definition of all other Python objects.
All object types are extensions of this type. This is a type which contains the information Python needs to treat a pointer to an object as an object. In a normal “release” build, it contains only the object’s reference count and a pointer to the corresponding type object. It corresponds to the fields defined by the expansion of the PyObject_HEAD macro.
This is an extension of PyObject that adds the ob_size field. This is only used for objects that have some notion of length. This type does not often appear in the Python/C API. It corresponds to the fields defined by the expansion of the PyObject_VAR_HEAD macro.
This is a macro which expands to the declarations of the fields of the PyObject type; it is used when declaring new types which represent objects without a varying length. The specific fields it expands to depend on the definition of Py_TRACE_REFS. By default, that macro is not defined, and PyObject_HEAD expands to:
Py_ssize_t ob_refcnt; PyTypeObject *ob_type;
When Py_TRACE_REFS is defined, it expands to:
PyObject *_ob_next, *_ob_prev; Py_ssize_t ob_refcnt; PyTypeObject *ob_type;
This is a macro which expands to the declarations of the fields of the PyVarObject type; it is used when declaring new types which represent objects with a length that varies from instance to instance. This macro always expands to:
PyObject_HEAD Py_ssize_t ob_size;
Note that PyObject_HEAD is part of the expansion, and that its own expansion varies depending on the definition of Py_TRACE_REFS.
This is a macro which expands to initialization values for a new PyObject type. This macro expands to:
_PyObject_EXTRA_INIT 1, type,
This is a macro which expands to initialization values for a new PyVarObject type, including the ob_size field. This macro expands to:
_PyObject_EXTRA_INIT 1, type, size,
Type of the functions used to implement most Python callables in C. Functions of this type take two PyObject* parameters and return one such value. If the return value is NULL, an exception shall have been set. If not NULL, the return value is interpreted as the return value of the function as exposed in Python. The function must return a new reference.
Type of the functions used to implement Python callables in C that take keyword arguments: they take three PyObject* parameters and return one such value. See PyCFunction above for the meaning of the return value.
Structure used to describe a method of an extension type. This structure has four fields:
|ml_name||char *||name of the method|
|ml_meth||PyCFunction||pointer to the C implementation|
|ml_flags||int||flag bits indicating how the call should be constructed|
|ml_doc||char *||points to the contents of the docstring|
The ml_meth is a C function pointer. The functions may be of different types, but they always return PyObject*. If the function is not of the PyCFunction, the compiler will require a cast in the method table. Even though PyCFunction defines the first parameter as PyObject*, it is common that the method implementation uses a the specific C type of the self object.
The ml_flags field is a bitfield which can include the following flags. The individual flags indicate either a calling convention or a binding convention. Of the calling convention flags, only METH_VARARGS and METH_KEYWORDS can be combined (but note that METH_KEYWORDS alone is equivalent to METH_VARARGS | METH_KEYWORDS). Any of the calling convention flags can be combined with a binding flag.
This is the typical calling convention, where the methods have the type PyCFunction. The function expects two PyObject* values. The first one is the self object for methods; for module functions, it is the module object. The second parameter (often called args) is a tuple object representing all arguments. This parameter is typically processed using PyArg_ParseTuple() or PyArg_UnpackTuple().
Methods with these flags must be of type PyCFunctionWithKeywords. The function expects three parameters: self, args, and a dictionary of all the keyword arguments. The flag is typically combined with METH_VARARGS, and the parameters are typically processed using PyArg_ParseTupleAndKeywords().
Methods without parameters don’t need to check whether arguments are given if they are listed with the METH_NOARGS flag. They need to be of type PyCFunction. The first parameter is typically named self and will hold a reference to the module or object instance. In all cases the second parameter will be NULL.
Methods with a single object argument can be listed with the METH_O flag, instead of invoking PyArg_ParseTuple() with a "O" argument. They have the type PyCFunction, with the self parameter, and a PyObject* parameter representing the single argument.
These two constants are not used to indicate the calling convention but the binding when use with methods of classes. These may not be used for functions defined for modules. At most one of these flags may be set for any given method.
The method will be passed the type object as the first parameter rather than an instance of the type. This is used to create class methods, similar to what is created when using the classmethod() built-in function.
The method will be passed NULL as the first parameter rather than an instance of the type. This is used to create static methods, similar to what is created when using the staticmethod() built-in function.
One other constant controls whether a method is loaded in place of another definition with the same method name.
The method will be loaded in place of existing definitions. Without METH_COEXIST, the default is to skip repeated definitions. Since slot wrappers are loaded before the method table, the existence of a sq_contains slot, for example, would generate a wrapped method named __contains__() and preclude the loading of a corresponding PyCFunction with the same name. With the flag defined, the PyCFunction will be loaded in place of the wrapper object and will co-exist with the slot. This is helpful because calls to PyCFunctions are optimized more than wrapper object calls.
Structure which describes an attribute of a type which corresponds to a C struct member. Its fields are:
|name||char *||name of the member|
|type||int||the type of the member in the C struct|
|offset||Py_ssize_t||the offset in bytes that the member is located on the type’s object struct|
|flags||int||flag bits indicating if the field should be read-only or writable|
|doc||char *||points to the contents of the docstring|
type can be one of many T_ macros corresponding to various C types. When the member is accessed in Python, it will be converted to the equivalent Python type.
|Macro name||C type|
|T_ULONGLONG||unsigned long long|
T_OBJECT and T_OBJECT_EX differ in that T_OBJECT returns None if the member is NULL and T_OBJECT_EX raises an AttributeError. Try to use T_OBJECT_EX over T_OBJECT because T_OBJECT_EX handles use of the del statement on that attribute more correctly than T_OBJECT.
flags can be 0 for write and read access or READONLY for read-only access. Using T_STRING for type implies READONLY. Only T_OBJECT and T_OBJECT_EX members can be deleted. (They are set to NULL).