python class definition - Adding a Method to an Existing Object Instance





8 Answers

Module new is deprecated since python 2.6 and removed in 3.0, use types

see http://docs.python.org/library/new.html

In the example below I've deliberately removed return value from patch_me() function. I think that giving return value may make one believe that patch returns a new object, which is not true - it modifies the incoming one. Probably this can facilitate a more disciplined use of monkeypatching.

import types

class A(object):#but seems to work for old style objects too
    pass

def patch_me(target):
    def method(target,x):
        print "x=",x
        print "called from", target
    target.method = types.MethodType(method,target)
    #add more if needed

a = A()
print a
#out: <__main__.A object at 0x2b73ac88bfd0>  
patch_me(a)    #patch instance
a.method(5)
#out: x= 5
#out: called from <__main__.A object at 0x2b73ac88bfd0>
patch_me(A)
A.method(6)        #can patch class too
#out: x= 6
#out: called from <class '__main__.A'>
methodtype bind at

I've read that it is possible to add a method to an existing object (i.e., not in the class definition) in Python.

I understand that it's not always good to do so. But how might one do this?




I think that the above answers missed the key point.

Let's have a class with a method:

class A(object):
    def m(self):
        pass

Now, let's play with it in ipython:

In [2]: A.m
Out[2]: <unbound method A.m>

Ok, so m() somehow becomes an unbound method of A. But is it really like that?

In [5]: A.__dict__['m']
Out[5]: <function m at 0xa66b8b4>

It turns out that m() is just a function, reference to which is added to A class dictionary - there's no magic. Then why A.m gives us an unbound method? It's because the dot is not translated to a simple dictionary lookup. It's de facto a call of A.__class__.__getattribute__(A, 'm'):

In [11]: class MetaA(type):
   ....:     def __getattribute__(self, attr_name):
   ....:         print str(self), '-', attr_name

In [12]: class A(object):
   ....:     __metaclass__ = MetaA

In [23]: A.m
<class '__main__.A'> - m
<class '__main__.A'> - m

Now, I'm not sure out of the top of my head why the last line is printed twice, but still it's clear what's going on there.

Now, what the default __getattribute__ does is that it checks if the attribute is a so-called descriptor or not, i.e. if it implements a special __get__ method. If it implements that method, then what is returned is the result of calling that __get__ method. Going back to the first version of our A class, this is what we have:

In [28]: A.__dict__['m'].__get__(None, A)
Out[28]: <unbound method A.m>

And because Python functions implement the descriptor protocol, if they are called on behalf of an object, they bind themselves to that object in their __get__ method.

Ok, so how to add a method to an existing object? Assuming you don't mind patching class, it's as simple as:

B.m = m

Then B.m "becomes" an unbound method, thanks to the descriptor magic.

And if you want to add a method just to a single object, then you have to emulate the machinery yourself, by using types.MethodType:

b.m = types.MethodType(m, b)

By the way:

In [2]: A.m
Out[2]: <unbound method A.m>

In [59]: type(A.m)
Out[59]: <type 'instancemethod'>

In [60]: type(b.m)
Out[60]: <type 'instancemethod'>

In [61]: types.MethodType
Out[61]: <type 'instancemethod'>



There are at least two ways for attach a method to an instance without types.MethodType:

>>> class A:
...  def m(self):
...   print 'im m, invoked with: ', self

>>> a = A()
>>> a.m()
im m, invoked with:  <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>
>>> a.m
<bound method A.m of <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>>
>>> 
>>> def foo(firstargument):
...  print 'im foo, invoked with: ', firstargument

>>> foo
<function foo at 0x978548c>

1:

>>> a.foo = foo.__get__(a, A) # or foo.__get__(a, type(a))
>>> a.foo()
im foo, invoked with:  <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>
>>> a.foo
<bound method A.foo of <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>>

2:

>>> instancemethod = type(A.m)
>>> instancemethod
<type 'instancemethod'>
>>> a.foo2 = instancemethod(foo, a, type(a))
>>> a.foo2()
im foo, invoked with:  <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>
>>> a.foo2
<bound method instance.foo of <__main__.A instance at 0x973ec6c>>

Useful links:
Data model - invoking descriptors
Descriptor HowTo Guide - invoking descriptors




What you're looking for is setattr I believe. Use this to set an attribute on an object.

>>> def printme(s): print repr(s)
>>> class A: pass
>>> setattr(A,'printme',printme)
>>> a = A()
>>> a.printme() # s becomes the implicit 'self' variable
< __ main __ . A instance at 0xABCDEFG>



Consolidating Jason Pratt's and the community wiki answers, with a look at the results of different methods of binding:

Especially note how adding the binding function as a class method works, but the referencing scope is incorrect.

#!/usr/bin/python -u
import types
import inspect

## dynamically adding methods to a unique instance of a class


# get a list of a class's method type attributes
def listattr(c):
    for m in [(n, v) for n, v in inspect.getmembers(c, inspect.ismethod) if isinstance(v,types.MethodType)]:
        print m[0], m[1]

# externally bind a function as a method of an instance of a class
def ADDMETHOD(c, method, name):
    c.__dict__[name] = types.MethodType(method, c)

class C():
    r = 10 # class attribute variable to test bound scope

    def __init__(self):
        pass

    #internally bind a function as a method of self's class -- note that this one has issues!
    def addmethod(self, method, name):
        self.__dict__[name] = types.MethodType( method, self.__class__ )

    # predfined function to compare with
    def f0(self, x):
        print 'f0\tx = %d\tr = %d' % ( x, self.r)

a = C() # created before modified instnace
b = C() # modified instnace


def f1(self, x): # bind internally
    print 'f1\tx = %d\tr = %d' % ( x, self.r )
def f2( self, x): # add to class instance's .__dict__ as method type
    print 'f2\tx = %d\tr = %d' % ( x, self.r )
def f3( self, x): # assign to class as method type
    print 'f3\tx = %d\tr = %d' % ( x, self.r )
def f4( self, x): # add to class instance's .__dict__ using a general function
    print 'f4\tx = %d\tr = %d' % ( x, self.r )


b.addmethod(f1, 'f1')
b.__dict__['f2'] = types.MethodType( f2, b)
b.f3 = types.MethodType( f3, b)
ADDMETHOD(b, f4, 'f4')


b.f0(0) # OUT: f0   x = 0   r = 10
b.f1(1) # OUT: f1   x = 1   r = 10
b.f2(2) # OUT: f2   x = 2   r = 10
b.f3(3) # OUT: f3   x = 3   r = 10
b.f4(4) # OUT: f4   x = 4   r = 10


k = 2
print 'changing b.r from {0} to {1}'.format(b.r, k)
b.r = k
print 'new b.r = {0}'.format(b.r)

b.f0(0) # OUT: f0   x = 0   r = 2
b.f1(1) # OUT: f1   x = 1   r = 10  !!!!!!!!!
b.f2(2) # OUT: f2   x = 2   r = 2
b.f3(3) # OUT: f3   x = 3   r = 2
b.f4(4) # OUT: f4   x = 4   r = 2

c = C() # created after modifying instance

# let's have a look at each instance's method type attributes
print '\nattributes of a:'
listattr(a)
# OUT:
# attributes of a:
# __init__ <bound method C.__init__ of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FD88>>
# addmethod <bound method C.addmethod of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FD88>>
# f0 <bound method C.f0 of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FD88>>

print '\nattributes of b:'
listattr(b)
# OUT:
# attributes of b:
# __init__ <bound method C.__init__ of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>
# addmethod <bound method C.addmethod of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>
# f0 <bound method C.f0 of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>
# f1 <bound method ?.f1 of <class __main__.C at 0x000000000237AB28>>
# f2 <bound method ?.f2 of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>
# f3 <bound method ?.f3 of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>
# f4 <bound method ?.f4 of <__main__.C instance at 0x000000000230FE08>>

print '\nattributes of c:'
listattr(c)
# OUT:
# attributes of c:
# __init__ <bound method C.__init__ of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002313108>>
# addmethod <bound method C.addmethod of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002313108>>
# f0 <bound method C.f0 of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002313108>>

Personally, I prefer the external ADDMETHOD function route, as it allows me to dynamically assign new method names within an iterator as well.

def y(self, x):
    pass
d = C()
for i in range(1,5):
    ADDMETHOD(d, y, 'f%d' % i)
print '\nattributes of d:'
listattr(d)
# OUT:
# attributes of d:
# __init__ <bound method C.__init__ of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# addmethod <bound method C.addmethod of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# f0 <bound method C.f0 of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# f1 <bound method ?.y of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# f2 <bound method ?.y of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# f3 <bound method ?.y of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>
# f4 <bound method ?.y of <__main__.C instance at 0x0000000002303508>>



This is actually an addon to the answer of "Jason Pratt"

Although Jasons answer works, it does only work if one wants to add a function to a class. It did not work for me when I tried to reload an already existing method from the .py source code file.

It took me for ages to find a workaround, but the trick seems simple... 1.st import the code from the source code file 2.nd force a reload 3.rd use types.FunctionType(...) to convert the imported and bound method to a function you can also pass on the current global variables, as the reloaded method would be in a different namespace 4.th now you can continue as suggested by "Jason Pratt" using the types.MethodType(...)

Example:

# this class resides inside ReloadCodeDemo.py
class A:
    def bar( self ):
        print "bar1"

    def reloadCode(self, methodName):
        ''' use this function to reload any function of class A'''
        import types
        import ReloadCodeDemo as ReloadMod # import the code as module
        reload (ReloadMod) # force a reload of the module
        myM = getattr(ReloadMod.A,methodName) #get reloaded Method
        myTempFunc = types.FunctionType(# convert the method to a simple function
                                myM.im_func.func_code, #the methods code
                                globals(), # globals to use
                                argdefs=myM.im_func.func_defaults # default values for variables if any
                                ) 
        myNewM = types.MethodType(myTempFunc,self,self.__class__) #convert the function to a method
        setattr(self,methodName,myNewM) # add the method to the function

if __name__ == '__main__':
    a = A()
    a.bar()
    # now change your code and save the file
    a.reloadCode('bar') # reloads the file
    a.bar() # now executes the reloaded code



If it can be of any help, I recently released a Python library named Gorilla to make the process of monkey patching more convenient.

Using a function needle() to patch a module named guineapig goes as follows:

import gorilla
import guineapig
@gorilla.patch(guineapig)
def needle():
    print("awesome")

But it also takes care of more interesting use cases as shown in the FAQ from the documentation.

The code is available on GitHub.




I find it strange that nobody mentioned that all of the methods listed above creates a cycle reference between the added method and the instance, causing the object to be persistent till garbage collection. There was an old trick adding a descriptor by extending the class of the object:

def addmethod(obj, name, func):
    klass = obj.__class__
    subclass = type(klass.__name__, (klass,), {})
    setattr(subclass, name, func)
    obj.__class__ = subclass



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