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On the Use and Misuse of Decorators

Translations: en


One of the most fraught questions in Python is “What is a decorator?”. Most answers are simple, easy to understand, and wrong. So what's the right answer?

Decorators like @wraps or @classmethod change the behaviour of a callable, and do so by returning a new callable. Other decorators, like @property accept a callable, but leave something completely different in their place.

This flexibility isn’t just there for decorators that come with Python. You can use this flexibility in your own decorators, and it offers the potential for you to build interesting and unexpected new behaviour.

In this talk, we’ll look at why Python has decorators, and how you can build them.

We’ll look at how some more popular decorators in Python do what they do. Finally, we’ll look at how to harness decorators to do unexpected and potentially horrible things with Python.

After this talk, you’ll know how decorators work, how to write your own decorators, and how decorators enable you to do extremely weird things in Python. Most importantly, you’ll understand how to use decorators responsibly, and definitely not to confuse your friends and colleagues.


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