Python's __getattr__ vs __getattribute__ - Key Differences Explained

When it comes to accessing attributes in Python, developers have two built-in options: __getattr__ and __getattribute__. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences between the two that developers should be aware of.

First, let's discuss what each method does. __getattr__ is called when an attribute that does not exist is accessed. It takes one argument, the name of the attribute being accessed, and returns a value. On the other hand, __getattribute__ is called every time an attribute is accessed, regardless of whether it exists or not. It takes one argument, the name of the attribute being accessed, and returns a value.

One key difference between __getattr__ and __getattribute__ is that __getattr__ is only called when an attribute does not exist. This means that if an attribute exists but is not being accessed, __getattr__ will not be called. On the other hand, __getattribute__ is called every time an attribute is accessed, regardless of whether it exists or not.

Another difference is in how errors are handled. If __getattr__ raises an AttributeError, Python will continue searching for the attribute using __getattribute__. However, if __getattribute__ raises an AttributeError, the error will be raised immediately and __getattr__ will not be called.

Finally, it's important to note that __getattribute__ is a more powerful method than __getattr__. This is because __getattribute__ is called every time an attribute is accessed, which means it can be used to intercept all attribute access and modify it as needed. __getattr__, on the other hand, is only called when an attribute does not exist.

In conclusion, while __getattr__ and __getattribute__ may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two that developers should be aware of. __getattr__ is only called when an attribute does not exist, while __getattribute__ is called every time an attribute is accessed. Additionally, __getattribute__ is more powerful and can be used to intercept and modify all attribute access.

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