In Python 2.4a3 (to be released this Thursday), everything remains as currently in CVS. For 2.4b1, I will consider a change of @ to some other single character, even though I think that @ has the advantage of being the same character used by a similar feature in Java. It's been argued that it's not quite the same, since @ in Java is used for attributes that don't change semantics. But Python's dynamic nature makes that its syntactic elements never mean quite the same thing as similar constructs in other languages, and there is definitely significant overlap. Regarding the impact on 3rd party tools: IPython's author doesn't think there's going to be much impact; Leo's author has said that Leo will survive (although it will cause him and his users some transitional pain). I actually expect that picking a character that's already used elsewhere in Python's syntax might be harder for external tools to adapt to, since parsing will have to be more subtle in that case. But I'm frankly undecided, so there's some wiggle room here. I don't want to consider further syntactic alternatives at this point: the buck has to stop at some point, everyone has had their say, and the show must go on.
Overall unfamiliarity with the concept. For people who have a passing acquaintance with algebra (or even basic arithmetic) or have used at least one other programming language, much of Python is intuitive. Very few people will have had any experience with the decorator concept before encountering it in Python. There's just no strong preexisting meme that captures the concept.
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Some commonly used decorators that are even built-ins in Python are @classmethod, @staticmethod, and @property. The @classmethod and @staticmethod decorators are used to define methods inside a class namespace that are not connected to a particular instance of that class. The @property decorator is used to customize getters and setters for class attributes. Expand the box below for an example using these decorators.
One of the other advantages of the decorator pattern is that wrapped objects can retain the type of the original object. As a result, you can use original and wrapped objects interchangeably, which is a significant advantage when your goal is to write flexible code. In this manner, you can easily extend the behavior of a particular object without modifying the original code.
Now we have our logit decorator in production, but when some parts of our application are considered critical, failure might be something that needs more immediate attention. Let’s say sometimes you want to just log to a file. Other times you want an email sent, so the problem is brought to your attention, and still keep a log for your own records. This is a case for using inheritence, but so far we’ve only seen functions being used to build decorators.
Now, assume one also desires the ability to add borders to windows. Again, the original Window class has no support. The ScrollingWindow subclass now poses a problem, because it has effectively created a new kind of window. If one wishes to add border support to many but not all windows, one must create subclasses WindowWithBorder and ScrollingWindowWithBorder etc. This problem gets worse with every new feature or window subtype to be added. For the decorator solution, we simply create a new BorderedWindowDecorator—at runtime, we can decorate existing windows with the ScrollingWindowDecorator or the BorderedWindowDecorator or both, as we see fit. Notice that if the functionality needs to be added to all Windows, you could modify the base class and that will do. On the other hand, sometimes (e.g., using external frameworks) it is not possible, legal, or convenient to modify the base class.
Using functions with "action-at-a-distance" through sys.settraceback may be okay for an obscure feature that can't be had any other way yet doesn't merit changes to the language, but that's not the situation for decorators. The widely held view here is that decorators need to be added as a syntactic feature to avoid the problems with the postfix notation used in 2.2 and 2.3. Decorators are slated to be an important new language feature and their design needs to be forward-looking, not constrained by what can be implemented in 2.3.
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The decorator pattern is a design pattern that allows you to wrap an object such that it will appear to execute a given behavior in many different ways at different points in program execution. This is especially useful when you want an object to have different behaviors at but are unable to mutate the object. The decorator pattern is a useful way to implement dynamic behavior without needing an extended inheritance-based class hierarchy. To use the decorator pattern you need four elements: a component interface; a concrete component; a decorator abstraction; and, a concrete decorator. The interface sets the contract for both component and decorator behavior, the decorator abstraction contains a pointer to some concrete component, and the concrete decorators wrap a concrete component and override behavior if desired.
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