Python __init__

Summary: in this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use the Python __init__() method to initialize object’s attributes.

Introduction to the Python __init__() method

When you create a new object of a class, Python automatically calls the __init__() method to initialize the object’s attributes.

Unlike regular methods, the __init__() method has two underscores (__) on each side. Therefore, the __init__() is often called dunder init. The name comes abbreviation of the double underscores init.

The double underscores at both sides of the __init__() method indicate that Python will use the method internally. In other words, you should not explicitly call this method.

Since Python will automatically call the __init__() method immediately after creating a new object, you can use the __init__() method to initialize the object’s attributes.

The following defines the Person class with the __init__() method:

class Person: def __init__(self, name, age): self.name = name self.age = age if __name__ == '__main__': person = Person('John', 25) print(f"I'm {person.name}. I'm {person.age} years old.")
Code language: Python (python)

When you create an instance of the Person class, Python performs two things:

  • First, create a new instance of the Person class by setting the object’s namespace such as __dict__ attribute to empty ({}).
  • Second, call the __init__ method to initialize the attributes of the newly created object.

Note that the __init__ method doesn’t create the object but only initializes the object’s attributes. Hence, the __init__() is not a constructor.

If the __init__ has parameters other than the self, you need to pass the corresponding arguments when creating a new object like the example above. Otherwise, you’ll get an error.

The __init__ method with default parameters

The __init__() method’s parameters can have default values. For example:

class Person: def __init__(self, name, age=22): self.name = name self.age = age if __name__ == '__main__': person = Person('John') print(f"I'm {person.name}. I'm {person.age} years old.")

Output:

I'm John. I'm 22 years old.
Code language: JavaScript (javascript)

In this example, the age parameter has a default value of 22. Because we don’t pass an argument to the Person(), the age uses the default value.

Summary

  • Use the __init__() method to initialize the object’s attributes.
  • The __init__() doesn’t create an object but is automatically called after the object is created.
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