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Complex custom class converters for dataclasses
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convclasses is an open source Python library for structuring and unstructuring data. convclasses works best with dataclasses classes and the usual Python collections, but other kinds of classes are supported by manually registering converters.

Python has a rich set of powerful, easy to use, built-in data types like dictionaries, lists and tuples. These data types are also the lingua franca of most data serialization libraries, for formats like json, msgpack, yaml or toml.

Data types like this, and mappings like dict s in particular, represent unstructured data. Your data is, in all likelihood, structured: not all combinations of field names are values are valid inputs to your programs. In Python, structured data is better represented with classes and enumerations. dataclasses is an excellent library for declaratively describing the structure of your data, and validating it.

When you're handed unstructured data (by your network, file system, database...), convclasses helps to convert this data into structured data. When you have to convert your structured data into data types other libraries can handle, convclasses turns your classes and enumerations into dictionaries, integers and strings.

Here's a simple taste. The list containing a float, an int and a string gets converted into a tuple of three ints.

>>> import convclasses
>>> from typing import Tuple
>>> convclasses.structure([1.0, 2, "3"], Tuple[int, int, int])
(1, 2, 3)

convclasses works well with dataclasses classes out of the box.

>>> import convclasses
>>> from dataclasses import dataclass
>>> from typing import Any
>>> @dataclass(frozen=True)  # It works with normal classes too.
... class C:
...     a: Any
...     b: Any
>>> instance = C(1, 'a')
>>> convclasses.unstructure(instance)
{'a': 1, 'b': 'a'}
>>> convclasses.structure({'a': 1, 'b': 'a'}, C)
C(a=1, b='a')

Here's a much more complex example, involving dataclasses classes with type metadata.

>>> from enum import unique, Enum
>>> from typing import Any, List, Optional, Sequence, Union
>>> from convclasses import structure, unstructure
>>> from dataclasses import dataclass
>>> @unique
... class CatBreed(Enum):
...     SIAMESE = "siamese"
...     MAINE_COON = "maine_coon"
...     SACRED_BIRMAN = "birman"
>>> @dataclass
... class Cat:
...     breed: CatBreed
...     names: Sequence[str]
>>> @dataclass
... class DogMicrochip:
...     chip_id: Any
...     time_chipped: float
>>> @dataclass
... class Dog:
...     cuteness: int
...     chip: Optional[DogMicrochip]
>>> p = unstructure([Dog(cuteness=1, chip=DogMicrochip(chip_id=1, time_chipped=10.0)),
...                  Cat(breed=CatBreed.MAINE_COON, names=('Fluffly', 'Fluffer'))])
>>> print(p)
[{'cuteness': 1, 'chip': {'chip_id': 1, 'time_chipped': 10.0}}, {'breed': 'maine_coon', 'names': ('Fluffly', 'Fluffer')}]
>>> print(structure(p, List[Union[Dog, Cat]]))
[Dog(cuteness=1, chip=DogMicrochip(chip_id=1, time_chipped=10.0)), Cat(breed=<CatBreed.MAINE_COON: 'maine_coon'>, names=['Fluffly', 'Fluffer'])]

Consider unstructured data a low-level representation that needs to be converted to structured data to be handled, and use structure. When you're done, unstructure the data to its unstructured form and pass it along to another library or module. Use dataclasses type metadata to add type metadata to attributes, so convclasses will know how to structure and destructure them.


  • Converts structured data into unstructured data, recursively:
    • dataclasses classes are converted into dictionaries in a way similar to dataclasses.asdict, or into tuples in a way similar to dataclasses.astuple.
    • Enumeration instances are converted to their values.
    • Other types are let through without conversion. This includes types such as integers, dictionaries, lists and instances of non-dataclasses classes.
    • Custom converters for any type can be registered using register_unstructure_hook.
  • Converts unstructured data into structured data, recursively, according to your specification given as a type. The following types are supported:
    • typing.Optional[T].
    • typing.List[T], typing.MutableSequence[T], typing.Sequence[T] (converts to a list).
    • typing.Tuple (both variants, Tuple[T, ...] and Tuple[X, Y, Z]).
    • typing.MutableSet[T], typing.Set[T] (converts to a set).
    • typing.FrozenSet[T] (converts to a frozenset).
    • typing.Dict[K, V], typing.MutableMapping[K, V], typing.Mapping[K, V] (converts to a dict).
    • dataclasses classes with simple attributes and the usual __init__.
      • Simple attributes are attributes that can be assigned unstructured data, like numbers, strings, and collections of unstructured data.
    • All dataclasses classes with the usual __init__, if their complex attributes have type metadata.
    • typing.Union s of supported dataclasses classes, given that all of the classes have a unique field.
    • typing.Union s of anything, given that you provide a disambiguation function for it.
    • Custom converters for any type can be registered using register_structure_hook.


Major credits and best wishes for the original creator of this concept - Tinche, he developed cattrs which this project is fork of.

Major credits to Hynek Schlawack for creating attrs and its predecessor, characteristic.

convclasses is tested with Hypothesis, by David R. MacIver.

convclasses is benchmarked using perf, by Victor Stinner.

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