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Traitlets Python configuration system

author IPython Development Team
author_email ipython-dev@python.org
  • Intended Audience :: Developers
  • Intended Audience :: System Administrators
  • Intended Audience :: Science/Research
  • License :: OSI Approved :: BSD License
  • Programming Language :: Python
  • Programming Language :: Python :: 3
description_content_type text/markdown
keywords Interactive,Interpreter,Shell,Web
license BSD
  • Linux
  • Mac OS X
  • Windows
  • Documentation, https://traitlets.readthedocs.io/
  • Funding, https://numfocus.org/
  • Source, https://github.com/ipython/traitlets
  • Tracker, https://github.com/ipython/traitlets/issues
provides_extras test
  • ipython-genutils
  • pytest ; extra == 'test'
requires_python >=3.7

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home https://github.com/ipython/traitlets
pypi-repo https://pypi.org/project/traitlets/
docs https://traitlets.readthedocs.io/
license Modified BSD License

Traitlets is a pure Python library enabling:

Its implementation relies on the descriptor pattern, and it is a lightweight pure-python alternative of the traits library.

Traitlets powers the configuration system of IPython and Jupyter and the declarative API of IPython interactive widgets.


For a local installation, make sure you have pip installed and run:

pip install traitlets

For a development installation, clone this repository, change into the traitlets root directory, and run pip:

git clone https://github.com/ipython/traitlets.git
cd traitlets
pip install -e .

Running the tests

pip install "traitlets[test]"
py.test traitlets


Any class with trait attributes must inherit from HasTraits. For the list of available trait types and their properties, see the Trait Types section of the documentation.

Dynamic default values

To calculate a default value dynamically, decorate a method of your class with @default({traitname}). This method will be called on the instance, and should return the default value. In this example, the _username_default method is decorated with @default('username'):

import getpass
from traitlets import HasTraits, Unicode, default

class Identity(HasTraits):
    username = Unicode()

    def _username_default(self):
        return getpass.getuser()

Callbacks when a trait attribute changes

When a trait changes, an application can follow this trait change with additional actions.

To do something when a trait attribute is changed, decorate a method with traitlets.observe(). The method will be called with a single argument, a dictionary which contains an owner, new value, old value, name of the changed trait, and the event type.

In this example, the _num_changed method is decorated with @observe(`num`):

from traitlets import HasTraits, Integer, observe

class TraitletsExample(HasTraits):
    num = Integer(5, help="a number").tag(config=True)

    def _num_changed(self, change):
        print("{name} changed from {old} to {new}".format(**change))

and is passed the following dictionary when called:

  'owner': object,  # The HasTraits instance
  'new': 6,         # The new value
  'old': 5,         # The old value
  'name': "foo",    # The name of the changed trait
  'type': 'change', # The event type of the notification, usually 'change'

Validation and coercion

Each trait type (Int, Unicode, Dict etc.) may have its own validation or coercion logic. In addition, we can register custom cross-validators that may depend on the state of other attributes. For example:

from traitlets import HasTraits, TraitError, Int, Bool, validate

class Parity(HasTraits):
    value = Int()
    parity = Int()

    def _valid_value(self, proposal):
        if proposal['value'] % 2 != self.parity:
            raise TraitError('value and parity should be consistent')
        return proposal['value']

    def _valid_parity(self, proposal):
        parity = proposal['value']
        if parity not in [0, 1]:
            raise TraitError('parity should be 0 or 1')
        if self.value % 2 != parity:
            raise TraitError('value and parity should be consistent')
        return proposal['value']

parity_check = Parity(value=2)

# Changing required parity and value together while holding cross validation
with parity_check.hold_trait_notifications():
    parity_check.value = 1
    parity_check.parity = 1

However, we recommend that custom cross-validators don't modify the state of the HasTraits instance.

Release build:

$ pip install build
$ python -m build .