Hint: You can adjust the default video playback speed in your account settings.
Hint: You can set the default subtitles language in your account settings.
Sorry! Looks like there’s an issue with video playback 🙁 This might be due to a temporary outage or because of a configuration issue with your browser. Please see our video player troubleshooting guide to resolve the issue.

Alternatives to Standard Classes

00:00 Alternatives to data classes. For simple data structures, you’ve probably already used a tuple or a dictionary. You could represent the queen of hearts card in either of the following ways.

00:30 This does work, but it puts a lot of responsibility on you as a programmer. You need to remember that the queen of hearts variable represents a card. For the tuple version, you need to remember the order of attributes.

00:45 Writing ('Spades', 'A') will mess up your program but probably not give you an easily understandable error message. If you use the dict version, you must make sure the names of the attributes are consistent.

01:00 The example shown onscreen would not work as expected. Furthermore, using these structures is not ideal. The tuple does not give us named access, and the dict version doesn’t give named attribute lookup.

01:27 A better alternative is the namedtuple. It’s long been used to create readable small data structures, and you can, in fact, recreate the data class example already seen using a namedtuple as seen onscreen.

01:56 This definition of NamedTupleCard will give this same output as the DataClassCard seen earlier on did.

02:25 So why even bother with data classes? First of all, data classes come with many more features than you’ve seen already. At the same time, the namedtuple has some other features that are not necessarily desirable.

02:39 By design, a namedtuple is a regular tuple, which can be illustrated by this comparison seen onscreen. While this might seem like a good thing, this lack of awareness about its own type can lead to subtle and hard-to-find bugs, especially since it will happily compare two different namedtuple classes.

03:29 The namedtuple has also come with some restrictions. For instance, it’s hard to add default values to some of the fields in the namedtuple.

03:37 The namedtuple is also by nature immutable. That is, the value of a namedtuple can never change. In some applications, this is an awesome feature, but in other settings, it would be nice to have more flexibility.

04:00 Data classes will not replace all uses of namedtuple. For instance, if you need your data structure to behave like a tuple, then a namedtuple is a great alternative! Another alternative, and one of the inspirations for data classes, is the attrs project.

04:19 With attrs installed as seen here, you can write a card class as follows.

04:46 This can be used in exactly the same way as the DataClassCard and NamedTupleCard examples seen earlier on.

05:17 The attrs project does support some features that data classes do not, including converters and validators. Furthermore, attrs has been around for a while and is supported in older versions of Python.

05:30 But attrs isn’t part of the standard library, and as such, it would add an external dependency to your projects. If you use data classes, similar functionality will be available everywhere without external dependencies.

05:45 In addition to tuple, dict, namedtuple, and attrs, there are other similar projects, including typing.NamedTuple, attrdict, plumber, and fields. While data classes are a great feature, there are still use cases where one of the older variants fits better.

06:06 For instance, if you need compatibility with a specific API expecting tuples or need functionality not supported in data classes. Now that you’ve seen what the alternatives may be, in the next chapter, you’ll get back to implementing data classes, starting with a simple example.

Become a Member to join the conversation.