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Barebones dependency injection framework for Python, based on type hints

Requires Python 3.5.2 or later


This documentation assumes that you already know what the dependency injection pattern is. If not, see Dependency Injection on Wikipedia.

This is not meant to be a discussion of how dependency injection works, but rather the specifics of how it is implemented in PyProvide.

Key Terms

Dependency: A class that is needed by another class or multiple other classes. Usually, dependencies are specified as abstract classes that have several possible implementations (but this does not have to be the case).

Named Dependency: A dependency that is identified by both a name and a type (as opposed to just a type).

Decorated class: A class whose constructor (__init__ method) is decorated with @inject.

  • The parameters in the constructor of a decorated class represent its dependencies, and instances of these dependencies are passed to the constructor by the injector.
  • Decorated classes do not need providers in order to be injected as dependencies.

Injectable class: A class that either has a provider or is a decorated class. Injectable classes can be injected as dependencies to other classes.

Injector: A shared object that manages acquiring instances of dependencies.

  • To get an instance of a dependency, the injector first looks for a provider specified by one of the injector's modules; if it cannot find one, but the dependency is a decorated class, then it uses the default provider to get an instance.
  • Injectors cache instances of dependencies, so if multiple classes need the same dependency, they will get the same instance. (See "Important Notes" below for more.)

Provider: A function that can create an instance of a specific class

  • It usually creates an instance of a specific subclass of the class that it is asked for.

  • Providers are defined as methods on modules (see below).

  • The provider is only called once (no matter how many times the dependency is needed), and the instance returned from the first call is reused for any future needs of the dependency (i.e. every providers is a singleton provider). See "Important Notes" below for more.

  • Just like constructors of decorated classes, provider methods can take in parameters representing dependencies.

  • There are 3 types of providers:

    Instance Provider: Returns an instance of the class that it provides

    • Instance providers use the @provider() decorator.

    Class Provider: Rather than returning an instance, returns the class itself

    • The returned class must be a decorated class in order for this to work.
    • This is useful if the provider is registered as providing a non-decorated class, but the actual class it returns is a subclass of this non-decorated class, and this subclass is a decorated class.
    • Class providers use the @class_provider() decorator.

    Default Provider: The provider that is used for all decorated classes that do not have any other provider. This saves you from having to write a provider for simple classes.

Provider Registry: A mapping inside the injector of types (i.e. classes) to providers (both instance providers and class providers). The mapping can contain 2 kinds of entries:

  1. Type --> Provider (to handle normal dependencies)
  2. Name and Type --> Provider (to handle named dependencies)
  • For any given type:
    • Only ONE of the first kind of entry can exist in the registry.
    • One or more of the second kind of entry can exist in the registry, provided each entry has a different name.
  • When the injector looks up a type in the registry, it will only match to types that are an exact match to the one that it is looking for (it will not match a provider for a superclass or subclass of the class it is looking for).

Module: A class that contains providers and registers them with an injector's registry

  • Module classes extend the Module base class.
  • Modules define providers using the @provider() and @class_provider() decorators on their provider methods.
  • Instances of 0 or more modules are passed to the Injector constructor when creating the injector.
  • Modules can "inherit" providers defined in other modules by install()'ing them.

How It Works

  1. Any class with dependencies takes in those dependencies as parameters to its __init__ method (which should be decorated with @inject()). This makes the class a decorated class:

    from pyprovide import inject
    class MyFirstClass:
        # Normal dependencies
        def __init__(self, class_a: ClassA, class_b: ClassB):
            self.class_a = class_a
            self.class_b = class_b
    class MySecondClass:
        # Named dependencies (In real life, you should probably use constants defined
        #                     in a common place, instead of string literals)
        @inject(class_z_bw="ClassZ in black-and-white", class_z_color="ClassZ in color")
        def __init__(self, class_z_bw: ClassZ, class_z_color: ClassZ):
            self.class_z_bw = class_z_bw
            self.class_z_color = class_z_color

    Using @inject() does not change the __init__ method; it still works the same as you would expect, even when not creating instances of the class through the dependency injection framework (e.g. for unit tests). For more on the way this works, see the "inject" function's documentation in

  2. For each possible configuration of dependencies, define a module class (that extends Module) with providers specific to that configuration:

    from pyprovide import Module, provider
    class MyModule(Module):
        # This is a simple provider that doesn't need any other instances or dependencies to create
        # an instance of ClassA:
        def provide_class_a(self) -> ClassA:
            return ClassA(arg1, arg2, arg3)
        # This provider requires some dependencies to create an instance of the class it provides.
        # Parameters of provider methods are injected, just like methods that use "@inject()":
        def provide_class_b(self, special_io: SpecialIO) -> ClassB:
            return ClassB(special_io)
        # This even works for named dependencies (just like "@inject()"):
        @provider(class_z_bw="ClassZ in black-and-white")
        def provide_type_c(self, class_z_bw: ClassZ) -> TypeC:
            return TypeC(class_z_bw)

    Note that you don't need a provider for every class. If a class is a decorated class, it doesn't need a provider as it can use the default provider (but it can still have a provider defined).

    If a class has a dependency on an abstract class, it is common that the abstract class is not a decorated class, but its subclasses are. Then, providers can be used to create instances of different subclasses of the abstract class depending on the module that the provider is in.

    As a useful shortcut, if the actual instance returned by a provider is a decorated class, then you can use a class provider instead of an instance provider (the providers above are instance providers). Class providers return class objects themselves, rather than instances of classes.

    from typing import Type
    from pyprovide import Module, class_provider, provider
    class MyModule(Module):
        def provide_class_a(self) -> Type[ClassA]:
            return SubclassOfClassA
        # That class provider above is equivalent to:
        def provide_class_a(self, ...dependencies...) -> ClassA:
            return SubclassOfClassA(...dependencies...)

    The return type annotation of a class provider is the class that it provides, wrapped in Type.

    Also, remember that the return type annotation of the provider is used when mapping the provider in the registry; the provider method itself is free to return an instance of a subclass.

    To have a provider provide a named dependency, pass the name as an argument to @provider() or @class_provider():

    from typing import Type
    from pyprovide import Module, class_provider, provider
    class MyModule(Module):
        @provider("ClassZ in color")
        def provide_class_z_color(self) -> ClassZ:
            class_z = ClassZ()
            return class_z
        @class_provider("ClassZ in black-and-white")
        def provide_class_z_bw(self) -> Type[ClassZ]:
            return ClassZ
  3. When your program is first starting, create an Injector and use it to get an instance of your first injectable class:

    from pyprovide import Injector
    def main():
        injector = Injector(MyModule())
        instance = injector.get_instance(ClassA)

    The beauty of this is that ClassA may have some dependencies, and those dependencies may have other dependencies, but this is all handled by PyProvide.

Important Notes

As specified a few times above, in PyProvide, all providers are singleton providers. The value returned from any provider (including instance providers, class providers, and the default provider) is cached and reused for any future dependencies on that class. This is part of the goal of PyProvide; it organizes your dependencies, but it isn't meant to be an implementation of a factory.

If you need each class to have a different instance of a certain dependency, you can either inject a factory instead of the class itself, or use a different framework that is more suited to your needs. (Have you looked at alecthomas/injector?)


Copyright (c) 2017 Jake Hartz
Licensed under the MIT License. For details, see the LICENSE file.


Barebones dependency injection framework for Python, based on type hints







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