Dataclasses: The code generator to end all code generators - Deepstash
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Dataclasses & What are they for

Dataclasses & What are they for

Dataclasses are an implementation of a code generator, similar to a Named Tuple.

The idea of using a code generator is to save time and reduce wordiness.

There are two views about the purpose of Dataclasses:

  1. It makes a mutable data holder, in the spirit of named tuples
  2. It writes boiler-plate code for you, simplifying the process of writing the class

These 2 world views are reflected in the name: “Dataclasses”

Per the dataclasses PEP, they are roughly a “Mutable named tuple with defaults”

They provide an elegant syntax for creating data holder objects


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A History Lesson

A History Lesson

In the beginning there where:

  • dicts for look-ups
  • tuples for structures
  • hand-written classes for more functionality

Later Named Tuples where added as a code generator with the goal of adding names to the fields of a tuple. This was limited by design, hence its name

ORMs appeared and pioneered using class attributes to specify rich data structures

In Python 3.6, it became possible to supply type annotations


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Comparison with Named Tuples

Comparison with Named Tuples

  • Dataclasses are by default mutable
  • Named Tuples have methods which start with an underscore which can be confusing. Ex: obj._replace(f=value)
  • Named Tuples have legacy code. Ex: _asdict() returns an OrderedDict
  • Named Tuples can be unpacked
  • Dataclasses are faster at retrieving data but take up more space
  • Dataclasses use functions instead of methods. Ex: asdict() vs nt._asdict()
  • Dataclasses are underlying stored as instance dicts


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If you have an immutable mind get out!



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Generated Code Includes

  • Dunder methods like init, repr, eq, lt, le, etc.
  • Frozen nature by generating dunder methods for __setattr__ and __delattr__
  • Class variables for the provided attributes

The code generation can be configured by providing keyword arguments to the @dataclass decorator

A complete list of methods and configurations can be found here


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A Complex Example of using Dataclasses

A Complex Example of using Dataclasses

In the image example, the generated code includes:

  • typed attributes
  • hidden attributes from __repr__ response
  • custom __hash__ dunder with the selected fields
  • attribute with default factory value in __init__ constructor


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I started using Dataclasses and I think you should too

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