How can I represent an ‘Enum’ in Python?

Each Answer to this Q is separated by one/two green lines.

I’m mainly a C# developer, but I’m currently working on a project in Python.

How can I represent the equivalent of an Enum in Python?

Enums have been added to Python 3.4 as described in PEP 435. It has also been backported to 3.3, 3.2, 3.1, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, and 2.4 on pypi.

For more advanced Enum techniques try the aenum library (2.7, 3.3+, same author as enum34. Code is not perfectly compatible between py2 and py3, e.g. you’ll need __order__ in python 2).

  • To use enum34, do $ pip install enum34
  • To use aenum, do $ pip install aenum

Installing enum (no numbers) will install a completely different and incompatible version.


from enum import Enum     # for enum34, or the stdlib version
# from aenum import Enum  # for the aenum version
Animal = Enum('Animal', 'ant bee cat dog')

Animal.ant  # returns <Animal.ant: 1>
Animal['ant']  # returns <Animal.ant: 1> (string lookup)
Animal.ant.name  # returns 'ant' (inverse lookup)

or equivalently:

class Animal(Enum):
    ant = 1
    bee = 2
    cat = 3
    dog = 4

In earlier versions, one way of accomplishing enums is:

def enum(**enums):
    return type('Enum', (), enums)

which is used like so:

>>> Numbers = enum(ONE=1, TWO=2, THREE='three')
>>> Numbers.ONE
1
>>> Numbers.TWO
2
>>> Numbers.THREE
'three'

You can also easily support automatic enumeration with something like this:

def enum(*sequential, **named):
    enums = dict(zip(sequential, range(len(sequential))), **named)
    return type('Enum', (), enums)

and used like so:

>>> Numbers = enum('ZERO', 'ONE', 'TWO')
>>> Numbers.ZERO
0
>>> Numbers.ONE
1

Support for converting the values back to names can be added this way:

def enum(*sequential, **named):
    enums = dict(zip(sequential, range(len(sequential))), **named)
    reverse = dict((value, key) for key, value in enums.iteritems())
    enums['reverse_mapping'] = reverse
    return type('Enum', (), enums)

This overwrites anything with that name, but it is useful for rendering your enums in output. It will throw a KeyError if the reverse mapping doesn’t exist. With the first example:

>>> Numbers.reverse_mapping['three']
'THREE'

If you are using MyPy another way to express “enums” is with typing.Literal.

For example:

from typing import Literal #python >=3.8
from typing_extensions import Literal #python 2.7, 3.4-3.7


Animal = Literal['ant', 'bee', 'cat', 'dog']

def hello_animal(animal: Animal):
    print(f"hello {animal}")

hello_animal('rock') # error
hello_animal('bee') # passes

Before PEP 435, Python didn’t have an equivalent but you could implement your own.

Myself, I like keeping it simple (I’ve seen some horribly complex examples on the net), something like this …

class Animal:
    DOG = 1
    CAT = 2

x = Animal.DOG

In Python 3.4 (PEP 435), you can make Enum the base class. This gets you a little bit of extra functionality, described in the PEP. For example, enum members are distinct from integers, and they are composed of a name and a value.

from enum import Enum

class Animal(Enum):
    DOG = 1
    CAT = 2

print(Animal.DOG)
# <Animal.DOG: 1>

print(Animal.DOG.value)
# 1

print(Animal.DOG.name)
# "DOG"

If you don’t want to type the values, use the following shortcut:

class Animal(Enum):
    DOG, CAT = range(2)

Enum implementations can be converted to lists and are iterable. The order of its members is the declaration order and has nothing to do with their values. For example:

class Animal(Enum):
    DOG = 1
    CAT = 2
    COW = 0

list(Animal)
# [<Animal.DOG: 1>, <Animal.CAT: 2>, <Animal.COW: 0>]

[animal.value for animal in Animal]
# [1, 2, 0]

Animal.CAT in Animal
# True

Here is one implementation:

class Enum(set):
    def __getattr__(self, name):
        if name in self:
            return name
        raise AttributeError

Here is its usage:

Animals = Enum(["DOG", "CAT", "HORSE"])

print(Animals.DOG)

If you need the numeric values, here’s the quickest way:

dog, cat, rabbit = range(3)

In Python 3.x you can also add a starred placeholder at the end, which will soak up all the remaining values of the range in case you don’t mind wasting memory and cannot count:

dog, cat, rabbit, horse, *_ = range(100)

The best solution for you would depend on what you require from your fake enum.

Simple enum:

If you need the enum as only a list of names identifying different items, the solution by Mark Harrison (above) is great:

Pen, Pencil, Eraser = range(0, 3)

Using a range also allows you to set any starting value:

Pen, Pencil, Eraser = range(9, 12)

In addition to the above, if you also require that the items belong to a container of some sort, then embed them in a class:

class Stationery:
    Pen, Pencil, Eraser = range(0, 3)

To use the enum item, you would now need to use the container name and the item name:

stype = Stationery.Pen

Complex enum:

For long lists of enum or more complicated uses of enum, these solutions will not suffice. You could look to the recipe by Will Ware for Simulating Enumerations in Python published in the Python Cookbook. An online version of that is available here.

More info:

PEP 354: Enumerations in Python has the interesting details of a proposal for enum in Python and why it was rejected.

The typesafe enum pattern which was used in Java pre-JDK 5 has a
number of advantages. Much like in Alexandru’s answer, you create a
class and class level fields are the enum values; however, the enum
values are instances of the class rather than small integers. This has
the advantage that your enum values don’t inadvertently compare equal
to small integers, you can control how they’re printed, add arbitrary
methods if that’s useful and make assertions using isinstance:

class Animal:
   def __init__(self, name):
       self.name = name

   def __str__(self):
       return self.name

   def __repr__(self):
       return "<Animal: %s>" % self

Animal.DOG = Animal("dog")
Animal.CAT = Animal("cat")

>>> x = Animal.DOG
>>> x
<Animal: dog>
>>> x == 1
False

A recent thread on python-dev pointed out there are a couple of enum libraries in the wild, including:

An Enum class can be a one-liner.

class Enum(tuple): __getattr__ = tuple.index

How to use it (forward and reverse lookup, keys, values, items, etc.)

>>> State = Enum(['Unclaimed', 'Claimed'])
>>> State.Claimed
1
>>> State[1]
'Claimed'
>>> State
('Unclaimed', 'Claimed')
>>> range(len(State))
[0, 1]
>>> [(k, State[k]) for k in range(len(State))]
[(0, 'Unclaimed'), (1, 'Claimed')]
>>> [(k, getattr(State, k)) for k in State]
[('Unclaimed', 0), ('Claimed', 1)]

So, I agree. Let’s not enforce type safety in Python, but I would like to protect myself from silly mistakes. So what do we think about this?

class Animal(object):
    values = ['Horse','Dog','Cat']

    class __metaclass__(type):
        def __getattr__(self, name):
            return self.values.index(name)

It keeps me from value-collision in defining my enums.

>>> Animal.Cat
2

There’s another handy advantage: really fast reverse lookups:

def name_of(self, i):
    return self.values[i]

Python doesn’t have a built-in equivalent to enum, and other answers have ideas for implementing your own (you may also be interested in the over the top version in the Python cookbook).

However, in situations where an enum would be called for in C, I usually end up just using simple strings: because of the way objects/attributes are implemented, (C)Python is optimized to work very fast with short strings anyway, so there wouldn’t really be any performance benefit to using integers. To guard against typos / invalid values you can insert checks in selected places.

ANIMALS = ['cat', 'dog', 'python']

def take_for_a_walk(animal):
    assert animal in ANIMALS
    ...

(One disadvantage compared to using a class is that you lose the benefit of autocomplete)

On 2013-05-10, Guido agreed to accept PEP 435 into the Python 3.4 standard library. This means that Python finally has builtin support for enumerations!

There is a backport available for Python 3.3, 3.2, 3.1, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, and 2.4. It’s on Pypi as enum34.

Declaration:

>>> from enum import Enum
>>> class Color(Enum):
...     red = 1
...     green = 2
...     blue = 3

Representation:

>>> print(Color.red)
Color.red
>>> print(repr(Color.red))
<Color.red: 1>

Iteration:

>>> for color in Color:
...   print(color)
...
Color.red
Color.green
Color.blue

Programmatic access:

>>> Color(1)
Color.red
>>> Color['blue']
Color.blue

For more information, refer to the proposal. Official documentation will probably follow soon.

I prefer to define enums in Python like so:

class Animal:
  class Dog: pass
  class Cat: pass

x = Animal.Dog

It’s more bug-proof than using integers since you don’t have to worry about ensuring that the integers are unique (e.g. if you said Dog = 1 and Cat = 1 you’d be screwed).

It’s more bug-proof than using strings since you don’t have to worry about typos (e.g.
x == “catt” fails silently, but x == Animal.Catt is a runtime exception).


ADDENDUM :
You can even enhance this solution by having Dog and Cat inherit from a symbol class with the right metaclass :

class SymbolClass(type):
    def __repr__(self): return self.__qualname__
    def __str__(self): return self.__name__

class Symbol(metaclass=SymbolClass): pass


class Animal:
    class Dog(Symbol): pass
    class Cat(Symbol): pass

Then, if you use those values to e.g. index a dictionary, Requesting it’s representation will make them appear nicely:

>>> mydict = {Animal.Dog: 'Wan Wan', Animal.Cat: 'Nyaa'}
>>> mydict
{Animal.Dog: 'Wan Wan', Animal.Cat: 'Nyaa'}

def M_add_class_attribs(attribs):
    def foo(name, bases, dict_):
        for v, k in attribs:
            dict_[k] = v
        return type(name, bases, dict_)
    return foo

def enum(*names):
    class Foo(object):
        __metaclass__ = M_add_class_attribs(enumerate(names))
        def __setattr__(self, name, value):  # this makes it read-only
            raise NotImplementedError
    return Foo()

Use it like this:

Animal = enum('DOG', 'CAT')
Animal.DOG # returns 0
Animal.CAT # returns 1
Animal.DOG = 2 # raises NotImplementedError

if you just want unique symbols and don’t care about the values, replace this line:

__metaclass__ = M_add_class_attribs(enumerate(names))

with this:

__metaclass__ = M_add_class_attribs((object(), name) for name in names)

From Python 3.4 there is official support for enums. You can find documentation and examples here on Python 3.4 documentation page.

Enumerations are created using the class syntax, which makes them easy
to read and write. An alternative creation method is described in
Functional API. To define an enumeration, subclass Enum as follows:

from enum import Enum
class Color(Enum):
     red = 1
     green = 2
     blue = 3

Another, very simple, implementation of an enum in Python, using namedtuple:

from collections import namedtuple

def enum(*keys):
    return namedtuple('Enum', keys)(*keys)

MyEnum = enum('FOO', 'BAR', 'BAZ')

or, alternatively,

# With sequential number values
def enum(*keys):
    return namedtuple('Enum', keys)(*range(len(keys)))

# From a dict / keyword args
def enum(**kwargs):
    return namedtuple('Enum', kwargs.keys())(*kwargs.values())




# Example for dictionary param:
values = {"Salad": 20, "Carrot": 99, "Tomato": "No i'm not"} 
Vegetables= enum(**values)

# >>> print(Vegetables.Tomato)        'No i'm not'


# Example for keyworded params: 
Fruits = enum(Apple="Steve Jobs", Peach=1, Banana=2)

# >>> print(Fruits.Apple)             'Steve Jobs'

Like the method above that subclasses set, this allows:

'FOO' in MyEnum
other = MyEnum.FOO
assert other == MyEnum.FOO

But has more flexibility as it can have different keys and values. This allows

MyEnum.FOO < MyEnum.BAR

to act as is expected if you use the version that fills in sequential number values.

Hmmm… I suppose the closest thing to an enum would be a dictionary, defined either like this:

months = {
    'January': 1,
    'February': 2,
    ...
}

or

months = dict(
    January=1,
    February=2,
    ...
)

Then, you can use the symbolic name for the constants like this:

mymonth = months['January']

There are other options, like a list of tuples, or a tuple of tuples, but the dictionary is the only one that provides you with a “symbolic” (constant string) way to access the
value.

Edit: I like Alexandru’s answer too!

What I use:

class Enum(object):
    def __init__(self, names, separator=None):
        self.names = names.split(separator)
        for value, name in enumerate(self.names):
            setattr(self, name.upper(), value)
    def tuples(self):
        return tuple(enumerate(self.names))

How to use:

>>> state = Enum('draft published retracted')
>>> state.DRAFT
0
>>> state.RETRACTED
2
>>> state.FOO
Traceback (most recent call last):
   File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
AttributeError: 'Enum' object has no attribute 'FOO'
>>> state.tuples()
((0, 'draft'), (1, 'published'), (2, 'retracted'))

So this gives you integer constants like state.PUBLISHED and the two-tuples to use as choices in Django models.

Keep it simple, using old Python 2.x (see below for Python 3!):

class Enum(object): 
    def __init__(self, tupleList):
            self.tupleList = tupleList
    
    def __getattr__(self, name):
            return self.tupleList.index(name)

Then:

DIRECTION = Enum(('UP', 'DOWN', 'LEFT', 'RIGHT'))
DIRECTION.DOWN
1

Keep it simple when using Python 3:

from enum import Enum
class MyEnum(Enum):
    UP = 1
    DOWN = 2
    LEFT = 3
    RIGHT = 4

Then:

MyEnum.DOWN

See: https://docs.python.org/3/library/enum.html

The standard in Python is PEP 435, so an Enum class is available in Python 3.4+:

>>> from enum import Enum
>>> class Colors(Enum):
...     red = 1
...     green = 2
...     blue = 3
>>> for color in Colors: print color
Colors.red
Colors.green
Colors.blue

davidg recommends using dicts. I’d go one step further and use sets:

months = set('January', 'February', ..., 'December')

Now you can test whether a value matches one of the values in the set like this:

if m in months:

like dF, though, I usually just use string constants in place of enums.

This is the best one I have seen: “First Class Enums in Python”

http://code.activestate.com/recipes/413486/

It gives you a class, and the class contains all the enums. The enums can be compared to each other, but don’t have any particular value; you can’t use them as an integer value. (I resisted this at first because I am used to C enums, which are integer values. But if you can’t use it as an integer, you can’t use it as an integer by mistake so overall I think it is a win.) Each enum is a unique value. You can print enums, you can iterate over them, you can test that an enum value is “in” the enum. It’s pretty complete and slick.

Edit (cfi): The above link is not Python 3 compatible. Here’s my port of enum.py to Python 3:

def cmp(a,b):
   if a < b: return -1
   if b < a: return 1
   return 0


def Enum(*names):
   ##assert names, "Empty enums are not supported" # <- Don't like empty enums? Uncomment!

   class EnumClass(object):
      __slots__ = names
      def __iter__(self):        return iter(constants)
      def __len__(self):         return len(constants)
      def __getitem__(self, i):  return constants[i]
      def __repr__(self):        return 'Enum' + str(names)
      def __str__(self):         return 'enum ' + str(constants)

   class EnumValue(object):
      __slots__ = ('__value')
      def __init__(self, value): self.__value = value
      Value = property(lambda self: self.__value)
      EnumType = property(lambda self: EnumType)
      def __hash__(self):        return hash(self.__value)
      def __cmp__(self, other):
         # C fans might want to remove the following assertion
         # to make all enums comparable by ordinal value {;))
         assert self.EnumType is other.EnumType, "Only values from the same enum are comparable"
         return cmp(self.__value, other.__value)
      def __lt__(self, other):   return self.__cmp__(other) < 0
      def __eq__(self, other):   return self.__cmp__(other) == 0
      def __invert__(self):      return constants[maximum - self.__value]
      def __nonzero__(self):     return bool(self.__value)
      def __repr__(self):        return str(names[self.__value])

   maximum = len(names) - 1
   constants = [None] * len(names)
   for i, each in enumerate(names):
      val = EnumValue(i)
      setattr(EnumClass, each, val)
      constants[i] = val
   constants = tuple(constants)
   EnumType = EnumClass()
   return EnumType


if __name__ == '__main__':
   print( '\n*** Enum Demo ***')
   print( '--- Days of week ---')
   Days = Enum('Mo', 'Tu', 'We', 'Th', 'Fr', 'Sa', 'Su')
   print( Days)
   print( Days.Mo)
   print( Days.Fr)
   print( Days.Mo < Days.Fr)
   print( list(Days))
   for each in Days:
      print( 'Day:', each)
   print( '--- Yes/No ---')
   Confirmation = Enum('No', 'Yes')
   answer = Confirmation.No
   print( 'Your answer is not', ~answer)

I have had occasion to need of an Enum class, for the purpose of decoding a binary file format. The features I happened to want is concise enum definition, the ability to freely create instances of the enum by either integer value or string, and a useful representation. Here’s what I ended up with:

>>> class Enum(int):
...     def __new__(cls, value):
...         if isinstance(value, str):
...             return getattr(cls, value)
...         elif isinstance(value, int):
...             return cls.__index[value]
...     def __str__(self): return self.__name
...     def __repr__(self): return "%s.%s" % (type(self).__name__, self.__name)
...     class __metaclass__(type):
...         def __new__(mcls, name, bases, attrs):
...             attrs['__slots__'] = ['_Enum__name']
...             cls = type.__new__(mcls, name, bases, attrs)
...             cls._Enum__index = _index = {}
...             for base in reversed(bases):
...                 if hasattr(base, '_Enum__index'):
...                     _index.update(base._Enum__index)
...             # create all of the instances of the new class
...             for attr in attrs.keys():
...                 value = attrs[attr]
...                 if isinstance(value, int):
...                     evalue = int.__new__(cls, value)
...                     evalue._Enum__name = attr
...                     _index[value] = evalue
...                     setattr(cls, attr, evalue)
...             return cls
... 

A whimsical example of using it:

>>> class Citrus(Enum):
...     Lemon = 1
...     Lime = 2
... 
>>> Citrus.Lemon
Citrus.Lemon
>>> 
>>> Citrus(1)
Citrus.Lemon
>>> Citrus(5)
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<stdin>", line 6, in __new__
KeyError: 5
>>> class Fruit(Citrus):
...     Apple = 3
...     Banana = 4
... 
>>> Fruit.Apple
Fruit.Apple
>>> Fruit.Lemon
Citrus.Lemon
>>> Fruit(1)
Citrus.Lemon
>>> Fruit(3)
Fruit.Apple
>>> "%d %s %r" % ((Fruit.Apple,)*3)
'3 Apple Fruit.Apple'
>>> Fruit(1) is Citrus.Lemon
True

Key features:

  • str(), int() and repr() all produce the most useful output possible, respectively the name of the enumartion, its integer value, and a Python expression that evaluates back to the enumeration.
  • Enumerated values returned by the constructor are limited strictly to the predefined values, no accidental enum values.
  • Enumerated values are singletons; they can be strictly compared with is

For old Python 2.x

def enum(*sequential, **named):
    enums = dict(zip(sequential, [object() for _ in range(len(sequential))]), **named)
    return type('Enum', (), enums)

If you name it, is your problem, but if not creating objects instead of values allows you to do this:

>>> DOG = enum('BARK', 'WALK', 'SIT')
>>> CAT = enum('MEOW', 'WALK', 'SIT')
>>> DOG.WALK == CAT.WALK
False

When using other implementations sited here (also when using named instances in my example) you must be sure you never try to compare objects from different enums. For here’s a possible pitfall:

>>> DOG = enum('BARK'=1, 'WALK'=2, 'SIT'=3)
>>> CAT = enum('WALK'=1, 'SIT'=2)
>>> pet1_state = DOG.BARK
>>> pet2_state = CAT.WALK
>>> pet1_state == pet2_state
True

Yikes!

I really like Alec Thomas’ solution (http://stackoverflow.com/a/1695250):

def enum(**enums):
    '''simple constant "enums"'''
    return type('Enum', (object,), enums)

It’s elegant and clean looking, but it’s just a function that creates a class with the specified attributes.

With a little modification to the function, we can get it to act a little more ‘enumy’:

NOTE: I created the following examples by trying to reproduce the
behavior of pygtk’s new style ‘enums’ (like Gtk.MessageType.WARNING)

def enum_base(t, **enums):
    '''enums with a base class'''
    T = type('Enum', (t,), {})
    for key,val in enums.items():
        setattr(T, key, T(val))

    return T

This creates an enum based off a specified type. In addition to giving attribute access like the previous function, it behaves as you would expect an Enum to with respect to types. It also inherits the base class.

For example, integer enums:

>>> Numbers = enum_base(int, ONE=1, TWO=2, THREE=3)
>>> Numbers.ONE
1
>>> x = Numbers.TWO
>>> 10 + x
12
>>> type(Numbers)
<type 'type'>
>>> type(Numbers.ONE)
<class 'Enum'>
>>> isinstance(x, Numbers)
True

Another interesting thing that can be done with this method is customize specific behavior by overriding built-in methods:

def enum_repr(t, **enums):
    '''enums with a base class and repr() output'''
    class Enum(t):
        def __repr__(self):
            return '<enum {0} of type Enum({1})>'.format(self._name, t.__name__)

    for key,val in enums.items():
        i = Enum(val)
        i._name = key
        setattr(Enum, key, i)

    return Enum



>>> Numbers = enum_repr(int, ONE=1, TWO=2, THREE=3)
>>> repr(Numbers.ONE)
'<enum ONE of type Enum(int)>'
>>> str(Numbers.ONE)
'1'

The enum package from PyPI provides a robust implementation of enums. An earlier answer mentioned PEP 354; this was rejected but the proposal was implemented
http://pypi.python.org/pypi/enum.

Usage is easy and elegant:

>>> from enum import Enum
>>> Colors = Enum('red', 'blue', 'green')
>>> shirt_color = Colors.green
>>> shirt_color = Colors[2]
>>> shirt_color > Colors.red
True
>>> shirt_color.index
2
>>> str(shirt_color)
'green'

Here’s an approach with some different characteristics I find valuable:

  • allows > and < comparison based on order in enum, not lexical order
  • can address item by name, property or index: x.a, x[‘a’] or x[0]
  • supports slicing operations like [:] or [-1]

and most importantly prevents comparisons between enums of different types!

Based closely on http://code.activestate.com/recipes/413486-first-class-enums-in-python.

Many doctests included here to illustrate what’s different about this approach.

def enum(*names):
    """
SYNOPSIS
    Well-behaved enumerated type, easier than creating custom classes

DESCRIPTION
    Create a custom type that implements an enumeration.  Similar in concept
    to a C enum but with some additional capabilities and protections.  See
    http://code.activestate.com/recipes/413486-first-class-enums-in-python/.

PARAMETERS
    names       Ordered list of names.  The order in which names are given
                will be the sort order in the enum type.  Duplicate names
                are not allowed.  Unicode names are mapped to ASCII.

RETURNS
    Object of type enum, with the input names and the enumerated values.

EXAMPLES
    >>> letters = enum('a','e','i','o','u','b','c','y','z')
    >>> letters.a < letters.e
    True

    ## index by property
    >>> letters.a
    a

    ## index by position
    >>> letters[0]
    a

    ## index by name, helpful for bridging string inputs to enum
    >>> letters['a']
    a

    ## sorting by order in the enum() create, not character value
    >>> letters.u < letters.b
    True

    ## normal slicing operations available
    >>> letters[-1]
    z

    ## error since there are not 100 items in enum
    >>> letters[99]
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    IndexError: tuple index out of range

    ## error since name does not exist in enum
    >>> letters['ggg']
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    ValueError: tuple.index(x): x not in tuple

    ## enums must be named using valid Python identifiers
    >>> numbers = enum(1,2,3,4)
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Enum values must be string or unicode

    >>> a = enum('-a','-b')
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    TypeError: Error when calling the metaclass bases
        __slots__ must be identifiers

    ## create another enum
    >>> tags = enum('a','b','c')
    >>> tags.a
    a
    >>> letters.a
    a

    ## can't compare values from different enums
    >>> letters.a == tags.a
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Only values from the same enum are comparable

    >>> letters.a < tags.a
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Only values from the same enum are comparable

    ## can't update enum after create
    >>> letters.a="x"
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AttributeError: 'EnumClass' object attribute 'a' is read-only

    ## can't update enum after create
    >>> del letters.u
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AttributeError: 'EnumClass' object attribute 'u' is read-only

    ## can't have non-unique enum values
    >>> x = enum('a','b','c','a')
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Enums must not repeat values

    ## can't have zero enum values
    >>> x = enum()
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Empty enums are not supported

    ## can't have enum values that look like special function names
    ## since these could collide and lead to non-obvious errors
    >>> x = enum('a','b','c','__cmp__')
    Traceback (most recent call last):
        ...
    AssertionError: Enum values beginning with __ are not supported

LIMITATIONS
    Enum values of unicode type are not preserved, mapped to ASCII instead.

    """
    ## must have at least one enum value
    assert names, 'Empty enums are not supported'
    ## enum values must be strings
    assert len([i for i in names if not isinstance(i, types.StringTypes) and not \
        isinstance(i, unicode)]) == 0, 'Enum values must be string or unicode'
    ## enum values must not collide with special function names
    assert len([i for i in names if i.startswith("__")]) == 0,\
        'Enum values beginning with __ are not supported'
    ## each enum value must be unique from all others
    assert names == uniquify(names), 'Enums must not repeat values'

    class EnumClass(object):
        """ See parent function for explanation """

        __slots__ = names

        def __iter__(self):
            return iter(constants)

        def __len__(self):
            return len(constants)

        def __getitem__(self, i):
            ## this makes xx['name'] possible
            if isinstance(i, types.StringTypes):
                i = names.index(i)
            ## handles the more normal xx[0]
            return constants[i]

        def __repr__(self):
            return 'enum' + str(names)

        def __str__(self):
            return 'enum ' + str(constants)

        def index(self, i):
            return names.index(i)

    class EnumValue(object):
        """ See parent function for explanation """

        __slots__ = ('__value')

        def __init__(self, value):
            self.__value = value

        value = property(lambda self: self.__value)

        enumtype = property(lambda self: enumtype)

        def __hash__(self):
            return hash(self.__value)

        def __cmp__(self, other):
            assert self.enumtype is other.enumtype, 'Only values from the same enum are comparable'
            return cmp(self.value, other.value)

        def __invert__(self):
            return constants[maximum - self.value]

        def __nonzero__(self):
            ## return bool(self.value)
            ## Original code led to bool(x[0])==False, not correct
            return True

        def __repr__(self):
            return str(names[self.value])

    maximum = len(names) - 1
    constants = [None] * len(names)
    for i, each in enumerate(names):
        val = EnumValue(i)
        setattr(EnumClass, each, val)
        constants[i] = val
    constants = tuple(constants)
    enumtype = EnumClass()
    return enumtype

Alexandru’s suggestion of using class constants for enums works quite well.

I also like to add a dictionary for each set of constants to lookup a human-readable string representation.

This serves two purposes: a) it provides a simple way to pretty-print your enum and b) the dictionary logically groups the constants so that you can test for membership.

class Animal:    
  TYPE_DOG = 1
  TYPE_CAT = 2

  type2str = {
    TYPE_DOG: "dog",
    TYPE_CAT: "cat"
  }

  def __init__(self, type_):
    assert type_ in self.type2str.keys()
    self._type = type_

  def __repr__(self):
    return "<%s type=%s>" % (
        self.__class__.__name__, self.type2str[self._type].upper())

While the original enum proposal, PEP 354, was rejected years ago, it keeps coming back up. Some kind of enum was intended to be added to 3.2, but it got pushed back to 3.3 and then forgotten. And now there’s a PEP 435 intended for inclusion in Python 3.4. The reference implementation of PEP 435 is flufl.enum.

As of April 2013, there seems to be a general consensus that something should be added to the standard library in 3.4—as long as people can agree on what that “something” should be. That’s the hard part. See the threads starting here and here, and a half dozen other threads in the early months of 2013.

Meanwhile, every time this comes up, a slew of new designs and implementations appear on PyPI, ActiveState, etc., so if you don’t like the FLUFL design, try a PyPI search.

Use the following.

TYPE = {'EAN13':   u'EAN-13',
        'CODE39':  u'Code 39',
        'CODE128': u'Code 128',
        'i25':     u'Interleaved 2 of 5',}

>>> TYPE.items()
[('EAN13', u'EAN-13'), ('i25', u'Interleaved 2 of 5'), ('CODE39', u'Code 39'), ('CODE128', u'Code 128')]
>>> TYPE.keys()
['EAN13', 'i25', 'CODE39', 'CODE128']
>>> TYPE.values()
[u'EAN-13', u'Interleaved 2 of 5', u'Code 39', u'Code 128']

I used that for Django model choices, and it looks very pythonic. It is not really an Enum, but it does the job.

Didn’t see this one in the list of answers, here is the one I whipped up. It allows the use of ‘in’ keyword and len() method:

class EnumTypeError(TypeError):
    pass

class Enum(object):
    """
    Minics enum type from different languages
    Usage:
    Letters = Enum(list('abc'))
    a = Letters.a
    print(a in Letters) # True
    print(54 in Letters) # False
    """
    def __init__(self, enums):
        if isinstance(enums, dict):
            self.__dict__.update(enums)
        elif isinstance(enums, list) or isinstance(enums, tuple):
            self.__dict__.update(**dict((v,k) for k,v in enumerate(enums)))
        else:
            raise EnumTypeError

    def __contains__(self, key):
        return key in self.__dict__.values()

    def __len__(self):
        return len(self.__dict__.values())


if __name__ == '__main__':
    print('Using a dictionary to create Enum:')
    Letters = Enum(dict((v,k) for k,v in enumerate(list('abcde'))))
    a = Letters.a
    print('\tIs a in e?', a in Letters)
    print('\tIs 54 in e?', 54 in Letters)
    print('\tLength of Letters enum:', len(Letters))

    print('\nUsing a list to create Enum:')
    Letters = Enum(list('abcde'))
    a = Letters.a
    print('\tIs a in e?', a in Letters)
    print('\tIs 54 in e?', 54 in Letters)
    print('\tLength of Letters enum:', len(Letters))

    try:
        # make sure we raise an exception if we pass an invalid arg
        Failure = Enum('This is a Failure')
        print('Failure')
    except EnumTypeError:
        print('Success!')

Output:

Using a dictionary to create Enum:
        Is a in e? True
        Is 54 in e? False
        Length of Letters enum: 5

Using a list to create Enum:
        Is a in e? True
        Is 54 in e? False
        Length of Letters enum: 5
Success!

Here is a nice Python recipe that I found here: http://code.activestate.com/recipes/577024-yet-another-enum-for-python/

def enum(typename, field_names):
    "Create a new enumeration type"

    if isinstance(field_names, str):
        field_names = field_names.replace(',', ' ').split()
    d = dict((reversed(nv) for nv in enumerate(field_names)), __slots__ = ())
    return type(typename, (object,), d)()

Example Usage:

STATE = enum('STATE', 'GET_QUIZ, GET_VERSE, TEACH')

More details can be found on the recipe page.


The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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