Chapter 6. Object-Oriented Programming


Credit: Alex Martelli, author of Python in a Nutshell (O’Reilly)

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is among Python’s greatest strengths. Python’s OOP features continue to improve steadily and gradually, just like Python in general. You could already write better object-oriented programs in Python 1.5.2 (the ancient, long-stable version that was new when I first began to work with Python) than in any other popular language (excluding, of course, Lisp and its variants: I doubt there’s anything you can’t do well in Lisp-like languages, as long as you can stomach parentheses-heavy concrete syntax). For a few years now, since the release of Python 2.2, Python OOP has become substantially better than it was with 1.5.2. I am constantly amazed at the systematic progress Python achieves without sacrificing solidity, stability, and backwards-compatibility.

To get the most out of Python’s great OOP features, you should use them the Python way, rather than trying to mimic C++, Java, Smalltalk, or other languages you may be familiar with. You can do a lot of mimicry, thanks to Python’s power. However, you’ll get better mileage if you invest time and energy in understanding the Python way. Most of the investment is in increasing your understanding of OOP itself: what is OOP, what does it buy you, and which underlying mechanisms can your object-oriented programs use? The rest of the investment is in understanding the specific mechanisms that Python ...

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