Python Decorators 201


In this post we are going to look at Python class decorators and why you might want to use them. You should have a solid understanding of how method decorators work before you try to digest the following examples. In case you need a refresher on the fundamentals of working with method decorators, check out one of my previous blog posts Python Decorators 101.

Although decorators in general, and class decorators specifically, are not a tool you will use everyday occasionally they can come in very handy. Recently while working on building a RESTful API we needed to require different permissions on various HTTP methods within a class. This could have been accomplished by adding decorators to each individual method within the class. We instead implemented a class decorator where we could select the methods to decorate by passing in the method names and the desired permissions for each. I believe that this resulted in not only making the code look cleaner but also more concisely communicating the permissions required on the class. Read on to learn how to implement something similar in your own projects.

A Basic Class Decorator Example

This is one of the most basic, and perhaps least useful, class decorators that you can write.

def method_decorator(method):

    def new_method(self):
        print("Print from the new_method")
        return method(self)

    return new_method

def class_decorator():

    def method_modifier(klass):
        setattr(klass, 'example_method', method_decorator(getattr(klass, 'example_method')))
        return klass

    return method_modifier

class ExampleClass(object):

    def example_method(self):
        print("Print from the example_method")

    def non_decorated(self):
        print("This method is not decorated")

example = ExampleClass()
print("==== [Decorated Method] ====")
print("\n==== [Nondecorated Method] ====")

What we have done is decorated the ExampleClass with the class_decorator decorator. The class_decorator function returns the method_modifier function. All method_modifier does is set the example_method of the class passed to it equal to the method_decorator function. That is a dense sentence but reread it a few times and run the example and the purpose of the code will become clear. Once you understand this basic example let’s move onto something a little more practical.

Specifying The Methods That Get Decorated

The following example, although slightly contrived for the sake of brevity, demonstrates a much more dynamic way of defining which methods in a class we would like to decorate.

For the example, we are implementing some type of RPG and each player will be required to posses specific attributes in order to perform actions within a village.

from functools import wraps

def get_func(value, method):

    def wrap(self):
        player_attrs = set(self.player.attrs)
        required_attr = set(value)
        if len(player_attrs.intersection(required_attr)) > 0:
            print("You DO have the required attrs to {}".format(method.__name__))
            return method(self)
            print("You DON'T have the required attrs to {}".format(method.__name__))
    return wrap

def required_attrs(*args, **kwargs):

    def class_with_requirements(klass):
        for k, v in kwargs.items():
            setattr(klass, k.lower(), get_func(v, getattr(klass, k.lower())))
        return klass
    return class_with_requirements

@required_attrs(ATTACK_BOSS=['level2'], HEAL=['cleric'])
class VillageOne(object):

    def __init__(self, player):
        self.player = player

    def attack_boss(self):
        print("  >>> Attacking the level boss <<<")

    def heal(self):
        print("  >>> You are healing something <<<")

class player(object):

    def __init__(self, name, attrs): = name
        self.attrs = attrs

## Call the examples ##
player1 = player("Player 1", ['level1', 'cleric'])
player2 = player("Player 2", ['level2', 'fighter'])
player1_village1 = VillageOne(player1)
player2_village1 = VillageOne(player2)
print("===== [Player 1] =====")
print("\n===== [Player 2] =====")

You can see that we have used our decorator on the VillageOne class to require that a player have a level2 attribute in order to attack_boss or a cleric attribute in order to heal. This decorator is useful in our pretend game and the same technique could be used in your RESTful APIs to require permissions on specific HTTP methods.