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[Python-Dev] Possible undefined behavior on creating a method named "__dict__"


On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 08:21:01AM -0300, Joao S. O. Bueno wrote:
> I just came across a code snippet that
> would define a method with the "__dict__" name  - like in:
> 
> class A:
>     def __dict__(self):
>          return ()

That's a strange thing to do, but I don't think it ought to be illegal. 
Consenting adults and all that.


> The resulting class's instances can be assigned
> dynamic attributes as usual, but one can never acess
> its actual local variables through instance.__dict__ -
> the method is retrieved instead.

Yes, I believe that is expected behaviour for attribute access since the 
descriptor protocol was added. Methods take priority over data 
attributes, if I recall correctly.


> Calling "vars" will also fail on objects of this class.

I consider that a pseudo-bug. I can't call it an actual bug, because 
vars() doesn't document that it will work even when __dict__ is shadowed 
in this way, but I think it should. So its a bug against a future 
feature :-)

Attribute access still works correctly even with such a shadow:

py> class W:
...     def __dict__(self):
...             return ()
...
py> obj = W()
py> obj.spam = 1
py> obj.spam
1

so there is still an instance dict somewhere inside the instance, and 
the C attribute-access machinary can access it. I think vars() should be 
able to do the same.

(I'm not saying this in order to encourage people to shadow __dict__.)


> This behavior is weird, and I believe is actually a side-effect
> of implementation details on CPython.

Its certain a weird thing to do, but I don't believe it is an 
implementation detail. Apart from the behaviour of vars(), I think the 
behaviour here all follows from the documented behaviour of the 
descriptor protocol.


> I am not sure whether it shoud just:
> 1 - be left as is - whoever reuses __dict__ as a method had it coming
> 2 - document  CPythn behavior
> 3 - file that as a bug to disallow __dict__ override in class declaration
> 4 - file that as a bug to not-create class __dict__ when one is explictly
>       created in Python code (the same that happens when one have "__slots__".
> 
> I have the feeling that (1) is just good - but then, I am at least
> posting this e-mail here.

I agree that (1) is the best, but vars() ought to work even in the 
precence of a method shadowing __dict__.


> Similar weird things go when one creates a method named "__class__",
> and possible other names.

type(instance) still works correctly when instance.__class__ is shadowed 
by a method.


-- 
Steve