What is a sibling class in Python?

 

Questions


Python 2 documentation says that super() function “returns a proxy object that delegates method calls to a parent or sibling class of type.”

The questions:

  1. What is a sibling class in Python?
  2. How do you delegate a method call to a sibling class?

My presumption was that a sibling for a given class is a class that inherits from the same parent. I drafted the following code to see how a method call can be delegated to a sibling, but it didn’t work. What do I do or understand wrong?

class ClassA(object):
    def MethodA(self):
        print "MethodA of ClassA"

class ClassB(ClassA):
    def MethodB(self):
        print "MethodB of ClassB"

class ClassC(ClassA):
    def MethodA(self):
        super(ClassC, self).MethodA()

    def MethodB(self):
        super(ClassC, self).MethodB()

if __name__ == '__main__':
    ClassC().MethodA() # Works as expected

    # Fail while trying to delegate method to a sibling.
    ClassC().MethodB() # AttirbuteError: 'super' object has no attribute 'MethodB'

 

 

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Answer

After some further research and reading Python’s super() considered super! article I came to the following conclusions:

  1. A sibling class is what I was thinking it was. It is a class that inherits from the same parent. It is the definition of the Python documentation that threw me off the course. It seems that when Python documentation says delegates method calls to a parent or sibling class it means to a parent or parent’s sibling which is also a base class of a given child. That is a diamond inheritance must take place.

  2. super() function delegates a method call to a parent’s sibling class automatically based on MRO (method resolution order).

Here’s an interesting case I found while experimenting with super() function:

class Class0(object):
    def MethodA(self):
        print("MethodA of Class0")

class ClassA(Class0):
    def MethodA(self):
        super(ClassA, self).MethodA()
        print("MethodA of ClassA")

class ClassB(Class0):
    def MethodA(self):
        print("MethodA of ClassB")

class ClassC(ClassA, ClassB):
    def MethodA(self):
        super(ClassC, self).MethodA()

if __name__ == '__main__':
    ClassC().MethodA()

The code will print

MethodA of ClassB
MethodA of ClassA

If you as me wonder why MethodA of Class0 never gets printed, here is the explanation as I understand it. The MRO of the ClassC as printed with print(ClassC.__mro__) is

(<class '__main__.ClassC'>, <class '__main__.ClassA'>, <class '__main__.ClassB'>, <class '__main__.Class0'>, <class 'object'>).

Now if you follow the MRO the super() function of MethodA() of ClassC will call the MethodA() of ClassA, which before printing will call MethodA() of classB (since it’s next in MRO). And the MethodA() of ClassB in its turn will just print and exit since it doesn’t use super() function to delegate the method call further up the MRO chain.

inheritance,oop,python,siblings,super

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