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Acquisition is a mechanism that allows objects to obtain attributes from the containment hierarchy they're in.

Project description

Environmental Acquisiton

This package implements "environmental acquisiton" for Python, as
proposed in the OOPSLA96_ paper by Joseph Gil and David H. Lorenz:

We propose a new programming paradigm, environmental acquisition in
the context of object aggregation, in which objects acquire
behaviour from their current containers at runtime. The key idea is
that the behaviour of a component may depend upon its enclosing
composite(s). In particular, we propose a form of feature sharing in
which an object "inherits" features from the classes of objects in
its environment. By examining the declaration of classes, it is
possible to determine which kinds of classes may contain a
component, and which components must be contained in a given kind of
composite. These relationships are the basis for language constructs
that supports acquisition.

.. _OOPSLA96:>`_:

.. contents::

Introductory Example

Zope implements acquisition with "Extension Class" mix-in classes. To
use acquisition your classes must inherit from an acquisition base
class. For example::

>>> import ExtensionClass, Acquisition

>>> class C(ExtensionClass.Base):
... color = 'red'

>>> class A(Acquisition.Implicit):
... def report(self):
... print self.color
>>> a = A()
>>> c = C()
>>> c.a = a


>>> d = C()
>>> d.color = 'green'
>>> d.a = a


>>> # raises an attribute error
Traceback (most recent call last):
AttributeError: color

The class ``A`` inherits acquisition behavior from
``Acquisition.Implicit``. The object, ``a``, "has" the color of
objects ``c`` and d when it is accessed through them, but it has no
color by itself. The object ``a`` obtains attributes from its
environment, where its environment is defined by the access path used
to reach ``a``.

Acquisition Wrappers

When an object that supports acquisition is accessed through an
extension class instance, a special object, called an acquisition
wrapper, is returned. In the example above, the expression ``c.a``
returns an acquisition wrapper that contains references to both ``c``
and ``a``. It is this wrapper that performs attribute lookup in ``c``
when an attribute cannot be found in ``a``.

Acquisition wrappers provide access to the wrapped objects through the
attributes ``aq_parent``, ``aq_self``, ``aq_base``. Continue the
example from above::

>>> c.a.aq_parent is c
>>> c.a.aq_self is a

Explicit and Implicit Acquisition

Two styles of acquisition are supported: implicit and explicit

Implicit acquisition

Implicit acquisition is so named because it searches for attributes
from the environment automatically whenever an attribute cannot be
obtained directly from an object or through inheritance.

An attribute can be implicitly acquired if its name does not begin
with an underscore.

To support implicit acquisition, your class should inherit from the
mix-in class ``Acquisition.Implicit``.

Explicit Acquisition

When explicit acquisition is used, attributes are not automatically
obtained from the environment. Instead, the method aq_acquire must be
used. For example::

>>> print c.a.aq_acquire('color')

To support explicit acquisition, your class should inherit from the
mix-in class ``Acquisition.Explicit``.

Controlling Acquisition

A class (or instance) can provide attribute by attribute control over
acquisition. Your should subclass from ``Acquisition.Explicit``, and set
all attributes that should be acquired to the special value
``Acquisition.Acquired``. Setting an attribute to this value also allows
inherited attributes to be overridden with acquired ones. For example::

>>> class C(Acquisition.Explicit):
... id = 1
... secret = 2
... color = Acquisition.Acquired
... __roles__ = Acquisition.Acquired

The only attributes that are automatically acquired from containing
objects are color, and ``__roles__``. Note that the ``__roles__``
attribute is acquired even though its name begins with an
underscore. In fact, the special ``Acquisition.Acquired`` value can be
used in ``Acquisition.Implicit`` objects to implicitly acquire
selected objects that smell like private objects.

Sometimes, you want to dynamically make an implicitly acquiring object
acquire explicitly. You can do this by getting the object's
aq_explicit attribute. This attribute provides the object with an
explicit wrapper that replaces the original implicit wrapper.

Filtered Acquisition

The acquisition method, ``aq_acquire``, accepts two optional
arguments. The first of the additional arguments is a "filtering"
function that is used when considering whether to acquire an
object. The second of the additional arguments is an object that is
passed as extra data when calling the filtering function and which
defaults to ``None``. The filter function is called with five

* The object that the aq_acquire method was called on,

* The object where an object was found,

* The name of the object, as passed to aq_acquire,

* The object found, and

* The extra data passed to aq_acquire.

If the filter returns a true object that the object found is returned,
otherwise, the acquisition search continues.

Here's an example::

>>> from Acquisition import Explicit

>>> class HandyForTesting:
... def __init__(self, name):
... = name
... def __str__(self):
... return "%s(%s)" % (, self.__class__.__name__)
... __repr__=__str__
>>> class E(Explicit, HandyForTesting): pass
>>> class Nice(HandyForTesting):
... isNice = 1
... def __str__(self):
... return HandyForTesting.__str__(self)+' and I am nice!'
... __repr__ = __str__
>>> a = E('a')
>>> a.b = E('b')
>>> a.b.c = E('c')
>>> a.p = Nice('spam')
>>> a.b.p = E('p')

>>> def find_nice(self, ancestor, name, object, extra):
... return hasattr(object,'isNice') and object.isNice

>>> print a.b.c.aq_acquire('p', find_nice)
spam(Nice) and I am nice!

The filtered acquisition in the last line skips over the first
attribute it finds with the name ``p``, because the attribute doesn't
satisfy the condition given in the filter.

Filtered acquisition is rarely used in Zope.

Acquiring from Context

Normally acquisition allows objects to acquire data from their
containers. However an object can acquire from objects that aren't its

Most of the examples we've seen so far show establishing of an
acquisition context using getattr semantics. For example, ``a.b`` is a
reference to ``b`` in the context of ``a``.

You can also manually set acquisition context using the ``__of__``
method. For example::

>>> from Acquisition import Implicit
>>> class C(Implicit): pass
>>> a = C()
>>> b = C()
>>> a.color = "red"
>>> print b.__of__(a).color

In this case, ``a`` does not contain ``b``, but it is put in ``b``'s
context using the ``__of__`` method.

Here's another subtler example that shows how you can construct an
acquisition context that includes non-container objects::

>>> from Acquisition import Implicit

>>> class C(Implicit):
... def __init__(self, name):
... = name

>>> a = C("a")
>>> a.b = C("b")
>>> a.b.color = "red"
>>> a.x = C("x")

>>> print a.b.x.color

Even though ``b`` does not contain ``x``, ``x`` can acquire the color
attribute from ``b``. This works because in this case, ``x`` is accessed
in the context of ``b`` even though it is not contained by ``b``.

Here acquisition context is defined by the objects used to access
another object.

Containment Before Context

If in the example above suppose both a and b have an color attribute::

>>> a = C("a")
>>> a.color = "green"
>>> a.b = C("b")
>>> a.b.color = "red"
>>> a.x = C("x")

>>> print a.b.x.color

Why does ``a.b.x.color`` acquire color from ``a`` and not from ``b``?
The answer is that an object acquires from its containers before
non-containers in its context.

To see why consider this example in terms of expressions using the
``__of__`` method::

a.x -> x.__of__(a)

a.b -> b.__of__(a)

a.b.x -> x.__of__(a).__of__(b.__of__(a))

Keep in mind that attribute lookup in a wrapper is done by trying to
look up the attribute in the wrapped object first and then in the
parent object. So in the expressions above proceeds from left to

The upshot of these rules is that attributes are looked up by
containment before context.

This rule holds true also for more complex examples. For example,
``a.b.c.d.e.f.g.attribute`` would search for attribute in ``g`` and
all its containers first. (Containers are searched in order from the
innermost parent to the outermost container.) If the attribute is not
found in ``g`` or any of its containers, then the search moves to
``f`` and all its containers, and so on.

Additional Attributes and Methods

You can use the special method ``aq_inner`` to access an object
wrapped only by containment. So in the example above,
``a.b.x.aq_inner`` is equivalent to ``a.x``.

You can find out the acquisition context of an object using the
aq_chain method like so:

>>> [ for obj in a.b.x.aq_chain]
['x', 'b', 'a']

You can find out if an object is in the containment context of another
object using the ``aq_inContextOf`` method. For example:

>>> a.b.aq_inContextOf(a)

.. Note: as of this writing the aq_inContextOf examples don't work the
way they should be working. According to Jim, this is because
aq_inContextOf works by comparing object pointer addresses, which
(because they are actually different wrapper objects) doesn't give
you the expected results. He acknowledges that this behavior is
controversial, and says that there is a collector entry to change
it so that you would get the answer you expect in the above. (We
just need to get to it).

Acquisition Module Functions

In addition to using acquisition attributes and methods directly on
objects you can use similar functions defined in the ``Acquisition``
module. These functions have the advantage that you don't need to
check to make sure that the object has the method or attribute before
calling it.

``aq_acquire(object, name [, filter, extra, explicit, default, containment])``
Acquires an object with the given name.

This function can be used to explictly acquire when using explicit
acquisition and to acquire names that wouldn't normally be

The function accepts a number of optional arguments:

A callable filter object that is used to decide if an object
should be acquired.

The filter is called with five arguments:

* The object that the aq_acquire method was called on,

* The object where an object was found,

* The name of the object, as passed to aq_acquire,

* The object found, and

* The extra argument passed to aq_acquire.

If the filter returns a true object that the object found is
returned, otherwise, the acquisition search continues.

Extra data to be passed as the last argument to the filter.

A flag (boolean value) indicating whether explicit acquisition
should be used. The default value is true. If the flag is
true, then acquisition will proceed regardless of whether
wrappers encountered in the search of the acquisition
hierarchy are explicit or implicit wrappers. If the flag is
false, then parents of explicit wrappers are not searched.

This argument is useful if you want to apply a filter without
overriding explicit wrappers.

A default value to return if no value can be acquired.

A flag indicating whether the search should be limited to the
containment hierarchy.

In addition, arguments can be provided as keywords.

Return the object with all wrapping removed.

``aq_chain(object [, containment])``
Return a list containing the object and it's acquisition
parents. The optional argument, containment, controls whether the
containment or access hierarchy is used.

``aq_get(object, name [, default, containment])``
Acquire an attribute, name. A default value can be provided, as
can a flag that limits search to the containment hierarchy.

Return the object with all but the innermost layer of wrapping

Return the acquisition parent of the object or None if the object
is unwrapped.

Return the object with one layer of wrapping removed, unless the
object is unwrapped, in which case the object is returned.

In most cases it is more convenient to use these module functions
instead of the acquisition attributes and methods directly.

Acquisition and Methods

Python methods of objects that support acquisition can use acquired
attributes. When a Python method is called on an object that is
wrapped by an acquisition wrapper, the wrapper is passed to the method
as the first argument. This rule also applies to user-defined method
types and to C methods defined in pure mix-in classes.

Unfortunately, C methods defined in extension base classes that define
their own data structures, cannot use aquired attributes at this
time. This is because wrapper objects do not conform to the data
structures expected by these methods. In practice, you will seldom
find this a problem.


Acquisition provides a powerful way to dynamically share information
between objects. Zope 2 uses acquisition for a number of its key
features including security, object publishing, and DTML variable
lookup. Acquisition also provides an elegant solution to the problem
of circular references for many classes of problems. While acquisition
is powerful, you should take care when using acquisition in your
applications. The details can get complex, especially with the
differences between acquiring from context and acquiring from


4.0.3 (2014-11-02)

- Skip readme.rst tests when tests are run outside a source checkout.

4.0.2 (2014-11-02)

- Include *.rst files in the release.

4.0.1 (2014-10-30)

- Tolerate Unicode attribute names (ASCII only). LP #143358.

- Make module-level ``aq_acquire`` API respect the ``default`` parameter.
LP #1387363.

- Don't raise an attribute error for ``__iter__`` if the fallback to
``__getitem__`` succeeds. LP #1155760.

4.0 (2013-02-24)

- Added trove classifiers to project metadata.

4.0a1 (2011-12-13)

- Raise `RuntimeError: Recursion detected in acquisition wrapper` if an object
with a `__parent__` pointer points to a wrapper that in turn points to the
original object.

- Prevent wrappers to be created while accessing `__parent__` on types derived
from Explicit or Implicit base classes.

2.13.8 (2011-06-11)

- Fixed a segfault on 64bit platforms when providing the `explicit` argument to
the aq_acquire method of an Acquisition wrapper. Thx to LP #675064 for the
hint to the solution. The code passed an int instead of a pointer into a

2.13.7 (2011-03-02)

- Fixed bug: When an object did not implement ``__unicode__``, calling
``unicode(wrapped)`` was calling ``__str__`` with an unwrapped ``self``.

2.13.6 (2011-02-19)

- Add ``aq_explicit`` to ``IAcquisitionWrapper``.

- Fixed bug: ``unicode(wrapped)`` was not calling a ``__unicode__``
method on wrapped objects.

2.13.5 (2010-09-29)

- Fixed unit tests that failed on 64bit Python on Windows machines.

2.13.4 (2010-08-31)

- LP 623665: Fixed typo in Acquisition.h.

2.13.3 (2010-04-19)

- Use the doctest module from the standard library and no longer depend on

2.13.2 (2010-04-04)

- Give both wrapper classes a ``__getnewargs__`` method, which causes the ZODB
optimization to fail and create persistent references using the ``_p_oid``
alone. This happens to be the persistent oid of the wrapped object. This lets
these objects to be persisted correctly, even though they are passed to the
ZODB in a wrapped state.

- Added failing tests for This shows
an edge-case where AQ wrappers can be pickled using the specific combination
of cPickle, pickle protocol one and a custom Pickler class with an
``inst_persistent_id`` hook. Unfortunately this is the exact combination used
by ZODB3.

2.13.1 (2010-02-23)

- Update to include ExtensionClass 2.13.0.

- Fix the ``tp_name`` of the ImplicitAcquisitionWrapper and
ExplicitAcquisitionWrapper to match their Python visible names and thus have
a correct ``__name__``.

- Expand the ``tp_name`` of our extension types to hold the fully qualified
name. This ensures classes have their ``__module__`` set correctly.

2.13.0 (2010-02-14)

- Added support for method cache in Acquisition. Patch contributed by
Yoshinori K. Okuji. See

2.12.4 (2009-10-29)

- Fix iteration proxying to pass `self` acquisition-wrapped into both
`__iter__` as well as `__getitem__` (this fixes

- Add tests for the __getslice__ proxying, including open-ended slicing.

2.12.3 (2009-08-08)

- More 64-bit fixes in Py_BuildValue calls.

- More 64-bit issues fixed: Use correct integer size for slice operations.

2.12.2 (2009-08-02)

- Fixed 64-bit compatibility issues for Python 2.5.x / 2.6.x. See for details.

2.12.1 (2009-04-15)

- Update for iteration proxying: The proxy for `__iter__` must not rely on the
object to have an `__iter__` itself, but also support fall-back iteration via
`__getitem__` (this fixes

2.12 (2009-01-25)

- Release as separate package.

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