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Python Classes

Below is an example of a basic class used in a Python script

class Employee:
    'Common base class for all employees'
    __s_empCounter = 0 # static variable for incrementing IDs

    # Private member variables
    __id = None
    __name = None
    __salary = None

    def __init__(self, name, salary):
        self.__name = name
        self.__salary = salary
        Employee.__s_empCounter += 1
        self.__id = Employee.__s_empCounter

    def output(self):
        print("ID: ", self.__id)
        print("Name: " + self.__name)
        print("Salary: ", self.__salary)

jo = Employee("Jo Jarvis", 20000)
sue = Employee("Sue Smith", 21000)


Here are the main points to notice:

  • The constructor is defined by the __init__ keyword. Python does not the name of the class like in Java, and not __construct() like in PHP.
  • Use of __ prefix is used by programmers to show that a variable is "private" and shouldn't be changed from outside the class. However python does not enforce this as a rule and essentially all variables are public.
  • Every function within the class should have self as it's first parameter. The programmer uses this in order to manipulate the object. self in this case is a replacement for this found in most other languages.
    • when you call a method, you treat the second argument in the list as the first. E.g. you do not need to worry about passing self.
  • There is no keyword for specifying static and member variables. I have used __s_ to denote a private static variable but I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who does this. It acts as a static variable because we reference it from the name of the class rather than by using self. E.g. Employee.__s_empCounter += 1 instead of self.__s_empCounter += 1
Last updated: 25th March 2021
First published: 16th August 2018