16.6. Our first Python object¶
At a basic level, an object is simply some code plus data structures that are smaller than a whole program. Defining a function allows us to store a bit of code and give it a name and then later invoke that code using the name of the function.
An object can contain a number of functions (which we call methods) as well as data that is used by those functions. We call data items that are part of the object attributes.
We use the
class keyword to define the data and code that will make up each
of the objects. The class keyword includes the name of the class and begins
an indented block of code where we include the attributes (data)
and methods (code).
Run the code below.
Each method looks like a function, starting with the
def keyword and
consisting of an indented block of code. This object has one attribute (
and one method (
party). The methods have a special first parameter that
we name by convention
Just as the
def keyword does not cause function code to be executed, the
class keyword does not create an object. Instead, the
keyword defines a template indicating what data and code will be contained
in each object of type
PartyAnimal. The class is like a cookie cutter
and the objects created using the class are the
You don’t put frosting on the cookie cutter;
you put frosting on the cookies, and you can put different frosting
on each cookie.
If we continue through this sample program, we see the first executable line of code:
an = PartyAnimal()
This is where we instruct Python to construct (i.e., create) an object or
instance of the class
PartyAnimal. It looks like a function call to the
class itself. Python constructs the object with the right data and methods
and returns the object which is then assigned to the variable
In a way this is quite similar to the following line which we have
been using all along:
counts = dict()
Here we instruct Python to construct an object using the
(already present in Python), return the instance of dictionary,
and assign it to the variable
PartyAnimal class is used to construct an object, the variable
is used to point to that object. We use
an to access the code and data for that
particular instance of the
Each Partyanimal object/instance contains within it a variable
and a method/function named
party. We call the
party method in this line:
party method is called, the first parameter (which we call by convention
points to the particular instance of the PartyAnimal object that
party is called from.
party method, we see the line:
self.x = self.x + 1
This syntax using the dot operator is saying ‘the x within self.’ Each time
called, the internal
x value is incremented by 1 and the value is printed out.
The following line is another way to call the
party method within the
In this variation, we access the code from within the class and explicitly
pass the object pointer
an as the first parameter (i.e.,
self within the method).
You can think of
an.party() as shorthand for the above line.
When the program executes, it produces the following output:
So far 1 So far 2 So far 3 So far 4
The object is constructed, and the
party method is called four times, both
incrementing and printing the value for
x within the