__str__ vs __repr__ in Python

By: Priya Philip 1 year, 10 months ago

Both __repr__ and __str__ are used to represent objects in different ways.The default implementation of __repr__ for a str value can be called as an argument to eval, and the return value would be a valid string object.

"'a string'"

Lets see how to implement these two methods:

class Book:
    name = ""
    publish = 0

    def __init__(self, Bookname, Bookpublished):
        self.name = Bookname
        self.publish = Bookpublished

    def __repr__(self):
        return {'Bookname':self.name, 'Bookpublished':self.publish}

    def __str__(self):
        return 'Book(Bookname='+self.name+', Bookpublished='+str(self.publish)+ ')'

Python __str__():

__str__ goal is to be readable. This method returns the string representation of the object. when  print()  ,  formatstr.format, or str function is invoked on an object the __str__  method will be called if and only if a  __str__  method is defined for the class , otherwise it will use the built-in object implementation which actually calls  __repr__ method .

Example of str(): 

p = Book('Pride and Prejudice', 1813)

# __str__() example

s = str(p)


Book(bookName=Pride and Prejudice, publish=1813)
Book(bookName=Pride and Prejudice, publish=1813)
Book(bookName=Pride and Prejudice, publish=1813)

Python __repr__():

The goal of __repr__() is to be unambiguous. __repr__() also returns valid python expression such as dictionary, tuple, string etc. It is called when repr() is invoked on the object, in that case, __repr__()  must return a String otherwise error will be thrown.

Example of repr():

p = Book('Pride and Prejudice', 1813)
# __repr__() example


{'bookName': 'Pride and Prejudice', 'publish': 1813}
<type 'dict'>
TypeError                                 Traceback (most recent call last)
<ipython-input-26-2405c8d5cc59> in <module>()
      2 print(p.__repr__())
      3 print(type(p.__repr__()))
----> 4 print(repr(p))

TypeError: __repr__ returned non-string (type dict)

Since the __repr__ method is returnning dict and not string, the repr() function is throwing a TypeError. Edit the  __repr__ method with the below code and let's see what happends.

def __repr__(self):
        return '{bookName:'+self.name+', publish:'+str(self.publish)+ '}'


{Bookname:Pride and Prejudice, Bookpublished:1813}
<type 'str'>
{Bookname:Pride and Prejudice, Bookpublished:1813}


Define __repr__ for objects you write so you and other developers have a reproducible example when using it as you develop. Define __str__ when you need a human readable string representation of it.


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