What Is A Python Class? (Definition, Importance And Features)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Computer programming is quickly becoming an essential skill for professionals that operate in domains like software engineering, software development or web development. Computer programmers may use a variety of languages and tools to create functional programs and platforms. Python is one of the many computer programming languages essential for creating web pages and developing smartphone applications. In this article, we explore classes in Python along with their importance, usage and attributes.

What is a Python class?

The answer to the question, ‘What is a Python class?' is that they are the fundamental building blocks of Python code that allow you to create objects with variables, functions and behaviours. As an object-oriented language, almost everything you code in Python is an object, which means understanding classes and their relationship to objects is fundamental to understanding the language. Overall, using classes to define objects within a project's framework lets you incorporate behaviours and attributes that perform functions that users can see on their interface.

In Python, classes are schematics that define an object within a program's code, representing a group of data and functions. Object-oriented programming (OOP) serves as a model to give structure to specific programs. Due to the simplistic OOP nature of Python, it often aids in rapid application development (RAD), which is essential in the practice of popular enterprise development paradigms like DevOps or Agile. This language is noteworthy for entry-level web developers because it is much easier to translate than other programming languages and at its core, the concept of ‘class' is an important part of its usability and functioning.

Related: What Does A DevOps Engineer Do And How To Become One

What is a namespace in Python?

In Python, you can map or connect an object to a name, using namespaces. A variety of namespaces may be available in Python libraries, for developers and programmers to use directly. Namespaces include a set of pre-defined built-in names, like exception functions and the abs() function, local names from function invocations and global names from modules. Namespaces also account for any set of attributes you may define in an object you create. In Python, you ideally use unique names within a given namespace. Names in different namespaces have no relation.

For example, you can have two different modules, namely, procure and dispatch, and define a function called maximise in each, without creating confusion. To do this, you can use the individual module names as prefixes to create unique names. These unique names are procure.maximise and dispatch.maximise.

What is an attribute in Python?

In simple terms, any name that follows a dot in Python is an attribute. For example, in the snippet x.virtual, virtual is an attribute of an object whose name is x. When you make a reference to a name within a module, it becomes an attribute reference. When attributes and modules belong to the same namespace, you can directly reference them using a dot and the syntax, [modulename].[attributename].

You can create read-only attributes and writable attributes in Python. You can assign values to a writable attribute to change its state and subsequently, the state of the module that contains it. For example, you can create a writable attribute like modulename.result = 47. You can also use the del statement to delete a writable attribute. For example, del modulename.result deletes the writable attribute result from the module modulename.

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What is a method in Python?

In Python, you can reference an instance or attribute using functions called methods. An object you create can contain methods that you define within its body. Some objects types can have methods of their own and methods are not functions that classes use exclusively. For example, list objects contain pre-defined methods such as sort, remove, insert and append.

What is scope in Python?

Scope in Python refers to the portion of text in a program in which you can directly access a namespace. You can use an unqualified reference to directly access a name within a namespace. This unqualified reference instructs the program to look for a particular name within the given namespace.

Python determines the scope of a name statically. But programs may use scopes of names dynamically, meaning they may experience modification during runtime. During execution, you can typically access three of the four nested scopes directly. They are:

  • The innermost scope that contains the local names that you want to search for.

  • The scope of functions that contains both non-local and non-global names.

  • The next-to-last scope containing global names in a module.

  • The outermost scope which contains built-in names

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Importance of classes in Python

Using classes in Python allows you to group code snippets pertaining to functionality and data. In Python, when you create a new class, you also create a new type of object and enable creating new instances of that particular type of object. Using classes when writing code can improve your speed and enable you to write concise and clear code. Classes have attributes that allow you to define and maintain their state. You can also define class methods during an instance to modify the state of the class during runtime. Classes, attributes and methods help you create functional and efficient code.

Related: What Is Coding? A Complete Guide To Coding Languages

Features of classes in Python

In comparison to other programming languages, Python requires very little unique code and semantics to create and use classes. The syntax for using classes is very similar to those that languages like C++ employ. Using classes in Python enables you to utilise all basic features of object-oriented programming, like:

  • Through the mechanism of inheritance, you can create multiple base classes.

  • You can create a derived class to override any methods of one or more base classes.

  • You can call a method in a base class, using a method of the same name.

  • You can create objects that contain various types and amounts of data.

  • After you create a class, you can modify its attributes and methods during program runtime.

Related: How To Become A Python Developer (With Skills And Duties)

How to use a Python class to create a functional object

You can use classes to write functional and efficient code in Python. Follow these steps to use a Python class and create a functional object:

1. Write a snippet of code to define the class

Use the ‘class' keyword to define classes using minimal strings of code. While defining the class, you can also define its properties. For example, you can write class ClassName to define a class called ‘ClassName.' You can then assign a value to a property of the class, ‘y.' Properties can hold a range of integer, decimal and negative values.

Example:

class ClassName:

y = 10

By writing this foundational code snippet, you have created a class called ‘ClassName' with a property ‘y.' You have then assigned an integer value of ‘10' to the property ‘y'.

2. Create an object

After you have defined the class, you can create an object in the defined class. An object requires a name, so select a name that works best for the overall scheme of your code. For example, you may choose to call it Object1. You can use Object1 and the print function to print the value of y on a screen.

Example:

class ClassName:

y = 10

Object1 = ClassName

print(Object1.y)

This code, when executed, displays the integer ‘10' on a screen.

3. Define an _inIt_() function for the class

Once you have rendered a class and an object, you require an _init_() function to make your class and object functional. This is a default parameter in Python programming as this function communicates with the object its main operations and values. You can also use the self parameter and enable the object to use all of the traits of the class you have defined.

Example:

class ClassName:

def __init__(self, y, z):

self.y = y

self.z = z

Object1 = NewClass(10, 20)

print(Object1.y)

print(Object1.z)

The above code snippet displays the integers 10 and 20 on your device screen. It defines a simple and functional class, and an object of that class called Object1. You can add additional attributes to your class, and methods and functions to your object as you develop the code.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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