What is the purpose and use of **kwargs?


Question

What are the uses for **kwargs in Python?

I know you can do an objects.filter on a table and pass in a **kwargs argument.  

Can I also do this for specifying time deltas i.e. timedelta(hours = time1)?

How exactly does it work? Is it classes as 'unpacking'? Like a,b=1,2?

1
736
2/9/2019 11:20:44 PM

Accepted Answer

You can use **kwargs to let your functions take an arbitrary number of keyword arguments ("kwargs" means "keyword arguments"):

>>> def print_keyword_args(**kwargs):
...     # kwargs is a dict of the keyword args passed to the function
...     for key, value in kwargs.iteritems():
...         print "%s = %s" % (key, value)
... 
>>> print_keyword_args(first_name="John", last_name="Doe")
first_name = John
last_name = Doe

You can also use the **kwargs syntax when calling functions by constructing a dictionary of keyword arguments and passing it to your function:

>>> kwargs = {'first_name': 'Bobby', 'last_name': 'Smith'}
>>> print_keyword_args(**kwargs)
first_name = Bobby
last_name = Smith

The Python Tutorial contains a good explanation of how it works, along with some nice examples.

<--Update-->

For people using Python 3, instead of iteritems(), use items()

837
7/29/2018 11:24:14 PM

Unpacking dictionaries

** unpacks dictionaries.

This

func(a=1, b=2, c=3)

is the same as

args = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c':3}
func(**args)

It's useful if you have to construct parameters:

args = {'name': person.name}
if hasattr(person, "address"):
    args["address"] = person.address
func(**args)  # either expanded to func(name=person.name) or
              #                    func(name=person.name, address=person.address)

Packing parameters of a function

def setstyle(**styles):
    for key, value in styles.iteritems():      # styles is a regular dictionary
        setattr(someobject, key, value)

This lets you use the function like this:

setstyle(color="red", bold=False)

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