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?

1
870
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.

860
5/30/2013 9:16:38 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

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