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Similar to namedtuple, but instances are mutable.

Project description


In Python 3.7 a better solution than recordtype is to use dataclasses.

I have switched active development to my namedlist project. It has a better implementation that makes it easier to modify the code. It should be fully compatible with recordtype.

And in general, the attrs project ( is an improvement to both recordtype and namedlist.


recordtype provides a factory function, named recordtype.recordtype. It is similar to collections.namedtuple, with the following differences:

  • recordtype instances are mutable.

  • recordtype supports per-field default values.

  • recordtype supports an optional default value, to be used by all fields do not have an explicit default value.

Typical usage

You can use recordtype like a mutable namedtuple:

>>> from recordtype import recordtype

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y')
>>> p = Point(1, 3)
>>> p.x = 2
>>> assert p.x == 2
>>> assert p.y == 3

Or, you can specify a default value for all fields:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y', default=3)
>>> p = Point(y=2)
>>> assert p.x == 3
>>> assert p.y == 2

Or, you can specify per-field default values:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', [('x', 0), ('y', 100)])
>>> p = Point()
>>> assert p.x == 0
>>> assert p.y == 100

You can also specify a the per-field defaults with a mapping, instead of an interable. Note that this is only useful with an ordered mapping, such as an OrderedDict:

>>> from collections import OrderedDict
>>> Point = recordtype('Point', OrderedDict((('y', 0),
...                                          ('x', 100))))
>>> p = Point()
>>> assert p.x == 100
>>> assert p.y == 0

The default value will only be used if it is provided and a per-field default is not used:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', ['x', ('y', 100)], default=10)
>>> p = Point()
>>> assert p.x == 10
>>> assert p.y == 100

If you use a mapping, the value NO_DEFAULT is convenient to specify that a field uses the default value:

>>> from recordtype import NO_DEFAULT
>>> Point = recordtype('Point', OrderedDict((('y', NO_DEFAULT),
...                                          ('x', 100))),
...                             default=5)
>>> p = Point()
>>> assert p.x == 100
>>> assert p.y == 5

Creating types

Specifying Fields

Fields can be specified as in namedtuple: as either a string specifing the field names, or as a iterable of field names. These two uses are equivalent:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y')
>>> Point = recordtype('Point', ['x', 'y'])

If using a string, commas are first converted to spaces. So these are equivalent:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y')
>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x,y')

Specifying Defaults

Per-field defaults can be specified by supplying a 2-tuple (name, default_value) instead of just a string for the field name. This is only supported when you specify a list of field names:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', [('x', 0), ('y', 0)])
>>> p = Point(3)
>>> assert p.x == 3
>>> assert p.y == 0

In addition to, or instead of, these per-field defaults, you can also specify a default value which is used when no per-field default value is specified:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y z', default=0)
>>> p = Point(y=3)
>>> assert p.x == 0
>>> assert p.y == 3
>>> assert p.z == 0

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', [('x', 0), 'y', ('z', 0)], default=4)
>>> p = Point(z=2)
>>> assert p.x == 0
>>> assert p.y == 4
>>> assert p.z == 2

In addition to supplying the field names as an iterable of 2-tuples, you can also specify a mapping. The keys will be the field names, and the values will be the per-field default values. This is most useful with an OrderedDict, as the order of the fields will then be deterministic. The module variable NO_DEFAULT can be specified if you want a field to use the per-type default value instead of specifying it with a field:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', OrderedDict((('x', 0),
...                                          ('y', NO_DEFAULT),
...                                          ('z', 0),
...                                          )),
...                             default=4)
>>> p = Point(z=2)
>>> assert p.x == 0
>>> assert p.y == 4
>>> assert p.z == 2

Writing to values

The objects retured by the factory function are fully writable, unlike the tuple-derived classes returned by namedtuple:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y')
>>> p = Point(1, 2)
>>> p.y = 4
>>> assert p.x == 1
>>> assert p.y == 4

Specifying __slots__

By default, the returned class sets __slots__, which is initialized to the field names. While this decreases memory usage by eliminating the instance dict, it also means that you cannot create new instance members.

To change this behavior, specify use_slots=False when creating the recordtype:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x y', use_slots=False)
>>> p = Point(0, 1)
>>> p.z = 2
>>> assert p.x == 0
>>> assert p.y == 1
>>> assert p.z == 2

Additional class members

recordtype classes contain these members:

  • _asdict(): Returns a dict which maps field names to their corresponding values.

  • _source: A string with the pure Python source code used to create the recordtype class. The source makes the recordtype self-documenting. It can be printed, executed using exec(), or saved to a file and imported.

  • _fields: Tuple of strings listing the field names. Useful for introspection.

Renaming invalid field names

This functionality is identical to namedtuple. If you specify rename=True, then any invalid field names are changed to _0, _1, etc. Reasons for a field name to be invalid are:

  • Zero length strings.

  • Containing characters other than alphanumerics and underscores.

  • A conflict with a Python reserved identifier.

  • Beginning with a digit.

  • Beginning with an underscore.

  • Using the same field name more than once.

For example:

>>> Point = recordtype('Point', 'x x for', rename=True)
>>> assert Point._fields == ('x', '_1', '_2')

Mutable default values

Be aware of creating mutable default values. Due to the way Python handles default values, each instance of a recordtype will share the default. This is especially problematic with default values that are lists. For example:

>>> A = recordtype('A', [('x', [])])
>>> a = A()
>>> a.x.append(4)
>>> b = A()
>>> assert b.x == [4]

This is probably not the desired behavior.

Creating and using instances

Because the type returned by recordtype is a normal Python class, you create instances as you would with any Python class.

Change log

1.4 2022-09-22 Eric V. Smith

  • For Python 3.10 compatibility, try to import

  • Reformat with black.

1.3 2018-08-03 Eric V. Smith

  • Python 3 support (thanks Jakob Stasiak).

  • Reformat with black.

1.2 <unreleased> Eric V. Smith

  • Switch README.txt to support doctest.

  • Add tests for mutable default values.

  • Add warning for mutable default values.

1.1 2011-11-14 Eric V. Smith

  • No API or code changes.

  • Fixed project URL in

  • Fixed license description in

1.0 2011-10-23 Eric V. Smith

  • Stabilize API, move to version 1.0.

  • Added “python test” support to run unittests.

  • Improve documentation examples.

  • Renamed “default_default” to just “default”.

  • Expose “NO_DEFAULT”.

  • Support mapping objects in addition to strings and lists for field_names.

  • Add tests for iterables, not just lists, for field_names.

0.2 2011-10-13 Eric V. Smith

  • Fix a typo in the documentation, no code changes.

0.1 2011-10-12 Eric V. Smith

  • Initial release.

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