Understanding Abstract Properties in Python: Working with Partially Implemented Classes

What will you learn?

Discover how to instantiate a class containing an abstract property in Python. Learn about abstract base classes (ABCs), abstract methods, and properties. Explore the abc module for defining custom ABCs and enforcing subclass implementation of abstract properties.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

In Python, abstract base classes (ABCs) serve as templates for other classes to implement interfaces. Sometimes, you may need to create a class that inherits from an ABC but hasn’t implemented all its abstract methods or properties. This situation raises the question: How can we handle instantiation of such “partially implemented” classes?

To tackle this challenge, we will delve into Python’s abc module, focusing on using the @property decorator along with @abstractmethod to define abstract properties that subclasses must implement. By exploring practical examples, you’ll grasp how to enforce subclass implementation while allowing instantiation of partially implemented classes under specific conditions.


from abc import ABC, abstractmethod

class Vehicle(ABC):
    def top_speed(self):

    def describe(self):
        print(f"This vehicle has a top speed of {self.top_speed} mph.")

class Car(Vehicle):
    top_speed = 150

car = Car()

# Copyright PHD


In the provided code snippet: – An abstract base class named Vehicle is created with an abstract property top_speed. – The @property and @abstractmethod decorators mandate that subclasses of Vehicle must specify a value for top_speed. – Class Car, inheriting from Vehicle, implements the top_speed property by assigning it a value (top_speed = 150) within the class definition. – Instantiating a Car object showcases successful utilization of a partially implemented parent class through calling .describe() method.

This approach demonstrates how enforcing subclass implementation via abstraction does not hinder creating flexible object hierarchies in Python.

    1. Can I instantiate an abstract base class directly?

      • No, attempting to instantiate an ABC directly raises a TypeError as it requires all its abstract methods/properties to be overridden by subclasses.
    2. What happens if I don’t implement all abstract methods/properties?

      • Failure to provide implementations for all defined abstract methods or properties in your subclass results in a TypeError indicating missing implementations.
    3. Is it mandatory for every inherited class to override all abstract properties?

      • Yes, each subclass derived from an ABC must override and provide concrete implementations for every declared abstract method or property unless marked as an ABC itself.
    4. Can static or class methods be declared as abstract?

      • Yes, using @staticmethod, or @classmethod, along with @abstractmethod enforces their override in subclasses.
    5. How do I check if my class is actually abstract?

      • Use issubclass(my_class, ABC) or isinstance(my_object, my_class) to verify inheritance from an ABC or instantiation of a concrete implementation respectively.

Abstract properties facilitate defining interfaces in Python programs ensuring consistency across subclasses. Implementation involves understanding theoretical foundations and practical applications. Handling partial implementations intelligently provides flexibility while upholding strict contract adherence in object hierarchies. Experimentation coupled with thoughtful design ensures effective utilization of these advanced OOP features.

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