Advertisement
Advertisement


How do I create a constant in Python?


Question

Is there a way to declare a constant in Python? In Java we can create constant values in this manner:

public static final String CONST_NAME = "Name";

What is the equivalent of the above Java constant declaration in Python?

2017/08/21
1
1034
8/21/2017 2:52:24 PM

Accepted Answer

No there is not. You cannot declare a variable or value as constant in Python. Just don't change it.

If you are in a class, the equivalent would be:

class Foo(object):
    CONST_NAME = "Name"

if not, it is just

CONST_NAME = "Name"

But you might want to have a look at the code snippet Constants in Python by Alex Martelli.


As of Python 3.8, there's a typing.Final variable annotation that will tell static type checkers (like mypy) that your variable shouldn't be reassigned. This is the closest equivalent to Java's final. However, it does not actually prevent reassignment:

from typing import Final

a: Final = 1

# Executes fine, but mypy will report an error if you run mypy on this:
a = 2
2019/11/04
1012
11/4/2019 9:28:47 PM

There's no const keyword as in other languages, however it is possible to create a Property that has a "getter function" to read the data, but no "setter function" to re-write the data. This essentially protects the identifier from being changed.

Here is an alternative implementation using class property:

Note that the code is far from easy for a reader wondering about constants. See explanation below

def constant(f):
    def fset(self, value):
        raise TypeError
    def fget(self):
        return f()
    return property(fget, fset)

class _Const(object):
    @constant
    def FOO():
        return 0xBAADFACE
    @constant
    def BAR():
        return 0xDEADBEEF

CONST = _Const()

print CONST.FOO
##3131964110

CONST.FOO = 0
##Traceback (most recent call last):
##    ...
##    CONST.FOO = 0
##TypeError: None

Code Explanation:

  1. Define a function constant that takes an expression, and uses it to construct a "getter" - a function that solely returns the value of the expression.
  2. The setter function raises a TypeError so it's read-only
  3. Use the constant function we just created as a decoration to quickly define read-only properties.

And in some other more old-fashioned way:

(The code is quite tricky, more explanations below)

class _Const(object):
    @apply
    def FOO():
        def fset(self, value):
            raise TypeError
        def fget(self):
            return 0xBAADFACE
        return property(**locals())

CONST = _Const()

print CONST.FOO
##3131964110

CONST.FOO = 0
##Traceback (most recent call last):
##    ...
##    CONST.FOO = 0
##TypeError: None

Note that the @apply decorator seems to be deprecated.

  1. To define the identifier FOO, firs define two functions (fset, fget - the names are at my choice).
  2. Then use the built-in property function to construct an object that can be "set" or "get".
  3. Note hat the property function's first two parameters are named fset and fget.
  4. Use the fact that we chose these very names for our own getter & setter and create a keyword-dictionary using the ** (double asterisk) applied to all the local definitions of that scope to pass parameters to the property function
2016/04/06

In Python instead of language enforcing something, people use naming conventions e.g __method for private methods and using _method for protected methods.

So in same manner you can simply declare the constant as all caps e.g.

MY_CONSTANT = "one"

If you want that this constant never changes, you can hook into attribute access and do tricks, but a simpler approach is to declare a function

def MY_CONSTANT():
    return "one"

Only problem is everywhere you will have to do MY_CONSTANT(), but again MY_CONSTANT = "one" is the correct way in python(usually).

You can also use namedtuple to create constants:

>>> from collections import namedtuple
>>> Constants = namedtuple('Constants', ['pi', 'e'])
>>> constants = Constants(3.14, 2.718)
>>> constants.pi
3.14
>>> constants.pi = 3
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
AttributeError: can't set attribute
2015/01/02

I've recently found a very succinct update to this which automatically raises meaningful error messages and prevents access via __dict__:

class CONST(object):
    __slots__ = ()
    FOO = 1234

CONST = CONST()

# ----------

print(CONST.FOO)    # 1234

CONST.FOO = 4321              # AttributeError: 'CONST' object attribute 'FOO' is read-only
CONST.__dict__['FOO'] = 4321  # AttributeError: 'CONST' object has no attribute '__dict__'
CONST.BAR = 5678              # AttributeError: 'CONST' object has no attribute 'BAR'

We define over ourselves as to make ourselves an instance and then use slots to ensure that no additional attributes can be added. This also removes the __dict__ access route. Of course, the whole object can still be redefined.

Edit - Original solution

I'm probably missing a trick here, but this seems to work for me:

class CONST(object):
    FOO = 1234

    def __setattr__(self, *_):
        pass

CONST = CONST()

#----------

print CONST.FOO    # 1234

CONST.FOO = 4321
CONST.BAR = 5678

print CONST.FOO    # Still 1234!
print CONST.BAR    # Oops AttributeError

Creating the instance allows the magic __setattr__ method to kick in and intercept attempts to set the FOO variable. You could throw an exception here if you wanted to. Instantiating the instance over the class name prevents access directly via the class.

It's a total pain for one value, but you could attach lots to your CONST object. Having an upper class, class name also seems a bit grotty, but I think it's quite succinct overall.

2019/03/22

Python doesn't have constants.

Perhaps the easiest alternative is to define a function for it:

def MY_CONSTANT():
    return 42

MY_CONSTANT() now has all the functionality of a constant (plus some annoying braces).

2019/05/05

In addition to the two top answers (just use variables with UPPERCASE names, or use properties to make the values read-only), I want to mention that it's possible to use metaclasses in order to implement named constants. I provide a very simple solution using metaclasses at GitHub which may be helpful if you want the values to be more informative about their type/name:

>>> from named_constants import Constants
>>> class Colors(Constants):
...     black = 0
...     red = 1
...     white = 15
...
>>> c = Colors.black
>>> c == 0
True
>>> c
Colors.black
>>> c.name()
'black'
>>> Colors(0) is c
True

This is slightly more advanced Python, but still very easy to use and handy. (The module has some more features, including constants being read-only, see its README.)

There are similar solutions floating around in various repositories, but to the best of my knowledge they either lack one of the fundamental features that I would expect from constants (like being constant, or being of arbitrary type), or they have esoteric features added that make them less generally applicable. But YMMV, I would be grateful for feedback. :-)

2013/10/10

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2682745
Licensed under: CC-BY-SA with attribution
Not affiliated with: Stack Overflow
Email: [email protected]