What's the difference between:
class Child(SomeBaseClass): def __init__(self): super(Child, self).__init__()
class Child(SomeBaseClass): def __init__(self): SomeBaseClass.__init__(self)
super being used quite a lot in classes with only single inheritance. I can see why you'd use it in multiple inheritance but am unclear as to what the advantages are of using it in this kind of situation.
The benefits of
super() in single-inheritance are minimal -- mostly, you don't have to hard-code the name of the base class into every method that uses its parent methods.
However, it's almost impossible to use multiple-inheritance without
super(). This includes common idioms like mixins, interfaces, abstract classes, etc. This extends to code that later extends yours. If somebody later wanted to write a class that extended
Child and a mixin, their code would not work properly.
means to call
means to call a bound
__init__ from the parent class that follows
Child in the instance's Method Resolution Order (MRO).
If the instance is a subclass of Child, there may be a different parent that comes next in the MRO.
When you write a class, you want other classes to be able to use it.
super() makes it easier for other classes to use the class you're writing.
As Bob Martin says, a good architecture allows you to postpone decision making as long as possible.
super() can enable that sort of architecture.
When another class subclasses the class you wrote, it could also be inheriting from other classes. And those classes could have an
__init__ that comes after this
__init__ based on the ordering of the classes for method resolution.
super you would likely hard-code the parent of the class you're writing (like the example does). This would mean that you would not call the next
__init__ in the MRO, and you would thus not get to reuse the code in it.
If you're writing your own code for personal use, you may not care about this distinction. But if you want others to use your code, using
super is one thing that allows greater flexibility for users of the code.
This works in Python 2 and 3:
This only works in Python 3:
It works with no arguments by moving up in the stack frame and getting the first argument to the method (usually
self for an instance method or
cls for a class method - but could be other names) and finding the class (e.g.
Child) in the free variables (it is looked up with the name
__class__ as a free closure variable in the method).
I prefer to demonstrate the cross-compatible way of using
super, but if you are only using Python 3, you can call it with no arguments.
What does it give you? For single inheritance, the examples from the question are practically identical from a static analysis point of view. However, using
super gives you a layer of indirection with forward compatibility.
Forward compatibility is very important to seasoned developers. You want your code to keep working with minimal changes as you change it. When you look at your revision history, you want to see precisely what changed when.
You may start off with single inheritance, but if you decide to add another base class, you only have to change the line with the bases - if the bases change in a class you inherit from (say a mixin is added) you'd change nothing in this class. Particularly in Python 2, getting the arguments to
super and the correct method arguments right can be difficult. If you know you're using
super correctly with single inheritance, that makes debugging less difficult going forward.
Other people can use your code and inject parents into the method resolution:
class SomeBaseClass(object): def __init__(self): print('SomeBaseClass.__init__(self) called') class UnsuperChild(SomeBaseClass): def __init__(self): print('UnsuperChild.__init__(self) called') SomeBaseClass.__init__(self) class SuperChild(SomeBaseClass): def __init__(self): print('SuperChild.__init__(self) called') super(SuperChild, self).__init__()
Say you add another class to your object, and want to inject a class between Foo and Bar (for testing or some other reason):
class InjectMe(SomeBaseClass): def __init__(self): print('InjectMe.__init__(self) called') super(InjectMe, self).__init__() class UnsuperInjector(UnsuperChild, InjectMe): pass class SuperInjector(SuperChild, InjectMe): pass
Using the un-super child fails to inject the dependency because the child you're using has hard-coded the method to be called after its own:
>>> o = UnsuperInjector() UnsuperChild.__init__(self) called SomeBaseClass.__init__(self) called
However, the class with the child that uses
super can correctly inject the dependency:
>>> o2 = SuperInjector() SuperChild.__init__(self) called InjectMe.__init__(self) called SomeBaseClass.__init__(self) called
Why in the world would this be useful?
Python linearizes a complicated inheritance tree via the C3 linearization algorithm to create a Method Resolution Order (MRO).
We want methods to be looked up in that order.
For a method defined in a parent to find the next one in that order without
super, it would have to
UnsuperChildshould not have access to
InjectMe. Why isn't the conclusion "Always avoid using
super"? What am I missing here?
UnsuperChild does not have access to
InjectMe. It is the
UnsuperInjector that has access to
InjectMe - and yet cannot call that class's method from the method it inherits from
Both Child classes intend to call a method by the same name that comes next in the MRO, which might be another class it was not aware of when it was created.
The one without
super hard-codes its parent's method - thus is has restricted the behavior of its method, and subclasses cannot inject functionality in the call chain.
The one with
super has greater flexibility. The call chain for the methods can be intercepted and functionality injected.
You may not need that functionality, but subclassers of your code may.
super to reference the parent class instead of hard-coding it.
What you intend is to reference the parent class that is next-in-line, not specifically the one you see the child inheriting from.
super can put unnecessary constraints on users of your code.