Solved: Meaning of @classmethod and @staticmethod for beginner


What do @classmethod and @staticmethod mean in Python, and how are they different? When should I use them, why should I use them, and how should I use them?
As far as I understand, @classmethod tells a class that it’s a method which should be inherited into subclasses, or… something. However, what’s the point of that? Why not just define the class method without adding @classmethod or @staticmethod or any @ definitions?

Best Answer:

Though classmethod and staticmethod are quite similar, there’s a slight difference in usage for both entities: classmethod must have a reference to a class object as the first parameter, whereas staticmethod can have no parameters at all.


This class obviously could be used to store information about certain dates (without timezone information; let’s assume all dates are presented in UTC).
Here we have __init__, a typical initializer of Python class instances, which receives arguments as a typical instance method, having the first non-optional argument (self) that holds a reference to a newly created instance.
Class Method
We have some tasks that can be nicely done using classmethods.
Let’s assume that we want to create a lot of Date class instances having date information coming from an outer source encoded as a string with format ‘dd-mm-yyyy’. Suppose we have to do this in different places in the source code of our project.
So what we must do here is:
  1. Parse a string to receive day, month and year as three integer variables or a 3-item tuple consisting of that variable.
  2. Instantiate Date by passing those values to the initialization call.

This will look like:
For this purpose, C++ can implement such a feature with overloading, but Python lacks this overloading. Instead, we can use classmethod. Let’s create another constructor.
Let’s look more carefully at the above implementation, and review what advantages we have here:
  1. We’ve implemented date string parsing in one place and it’s reusable now.
  2. Encapsulation works fine here (if you think that you could implement string parsing as a single function elsewhere, this solution fits the OOP paradigm far better).
  3. cls is the class itself, not an instance of the class. It’s pretty cool because if we inherit our Date class, all children will have from_string defined also.

Static method
What about staticmethod? It’s pretty similar to classmethod but doesn’t take any obligatory parameters (like a class method or instance method does).
Let’s look at the next use case.
We have a date string that we want to validate somehow. This task is also logically bound to the Date class we’ve used so far, but doesn’t require instantiation of it.
Here is where staticmethod can be useful. Let’s look at the next piece of code:

def is_date_valid(date_as_string):
day, month, year = map(int, date_as_string.split(‘-‘))
return day <= 31 and month <= 12 and year <= 3999 # usage: is_date = Date.is_date_valid('11-09-2012') [/code]

So, as we can see from usage of staticmethod, we don’t have any access to what the class is—it’s basically just a function, called syntactically like a method, but without access to the object and its internals (fields and other methods), which classmethod does have.

If you have better answer, please add a comment about this, thank you!