Using setattr() in python-ThrowExceptions

Exception or error:

I am looking for someone to explain the basics of how to use, and not use setattr().

My problem arose trying to use one class method/function to return data that is then put in another method/function. Perhaps a simpler approach would be much better in this case, but I’m trying to understand how classes work/are used. This problem seems to hinge on setattr(), and this is my attempt to make a fairly simple use of this.

Though it’s not quite the same problem, I was following Python The Hard Way, ex42—the while loop @ lines 18-41.

I tried writing an \__init__(), and using getattr() instead, thinking perhaps something needed to be in the class’ namespace, but this doesn’t seem to help.

#! /bin/python2.6

class HolyGrail(object):

    def __init__(self):
        self.start = 'start_at_init'

    # function definition in question:
    # TypeError: 'str' object is not callable

    def run_it(self):
        start = setattr(self, 'name', 'get_thing')
        start =

        # Something wrong here?
        value_returned = start() #I believe this == self.get_thing()

    # alternate function definitions
    # NameError: global name 'start' is not defined

    def __init__(self):
        self.start = 'get_thing'

    def run_it(self):
        go_do_it = getattr(self, start)
        first_output = go_do_it()

    def get_thing(self):
        return "The Knights Who Say ... Ni!"

    def use_it(self, x):
        print x
        print "We want a shrubbery!"

my_instance = HolyGrail()

@Karl Knechtel, @Amber , @Chris Morgan thanks for your help.

I think I can now explain my own answer! This required a better grasp of self as an object for me. It’s an instance name that gets tagged up with stuff like attributes.

The class could be a Town, and then.
getattr looks for a house using it’s name so you are ready to call on it soon, and comes up with a different place if you don’t find the house
–With getattr a ‘name’ exists, and you go find it. Makes the step from one function to another dynamic
As a bonus you may have a default value, useful to get a fallback default method–connection failed or something?

setattr builds a house and gives it a name so you can call in on it later.
You could potentially rebuild this house, or go to a particular place if you are unable to find it.
setattr makes an attribute name and gives, or changes it’s value, to be called on later
Perhaps a user turns sound off, then future methods don’t output any audio.

I could have written my function a number of ways, but there’s no need to change any attributes:

def run_it(self):
    yo = getattr(self, 'get_thing')
    answer = yo()
    setattr(self, 'deal_accepted', self.use_it) #really ott
    no = getattr(self, 'deal_accepted')

Properly corrected code:

def run_it(self):
    value_returned = self.get_thing()
How to solve:

You are setting to the string "get_thing", not the function get_thing.

If you want to be a function, then you should set it to one:

setattr(self, 'name', self.get_thing)

However, that’s completely unnecessary for your other code, because you could just call it directly:

value_returned = self.get_thing()


The Python docs say all that needs to be said, as far as I can see.

setattr(object, name, value)

This is the counterpart of getattr(). The arguments are an object, a string and an arbitrary value. The string may name an existing attribute or a new attribute. The function assigns the value to the attribute, provided the object allows it. For example, setattr(x, 'foobar', 123) is equivalent to x.foobar = 123.

If this isn’t enough, explain what you don’t understand.


We use setattr to add an attribute to our class instance. We pass the class instance, the attribute name, and the value. and with getattr we retrive these values

For example

Employee = type("Employee", (object,), dict())

employee = Employee()

# Set salary to 1000
setattr(employee,"salary", 1000 )

# Get the Salary
value = getattr(employee, "salary")



Suppose you want to give attributes to an instance which was previously not written in code.
The setattr() does just that.
It takes the instance of the class self and key and value to set.

class Example:
    def __init__(self, **kwargs):
        for key, value in kwargs.items():
            setattr(self, key, value)


To add to the other answers, a common use case I have found for setattr() is when using configs. It is common to parse configs from a file (.ini file or whatever) into a dictionary. So you end up with something like:

configs = {'memory': 2.5, 'colour': 'red', 'charge': 0, ... }

If you want to then assign these configs to a class to be stored and passed around, you could do simple assignment:

MyClass.memory = configs['memory']
MyClass.colour = configs['colour']
MyClass.charge = configs['charge']

However, it is much easier and less verbose to loop over the configs, and setattr() like so:

for name, val in configs.items():
    setattr(MyClass, name, val)

As long as your dictionary keys have the proper names, this works very well and is nice and tidy.

*Note, the dict keys need to be strings as they will be the class object names.

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