Understanding Python Imports and Instantiation

What will you learn?

In this detailed guide, you will unravel the mystery behind Python’s behavior of automatically instantiating classes upon import. By exploring how imports work and understanding class instantiation, you will gain insights into managing object creation effectively.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

When working with Python, it can be perplexing to witness classes being instantiated upon import without explicit object creation. This behavior sets Python apart from other languages where imports do not trigger automatic instantiation. The crux of addressing this lies in comprehending the import process and identifying code snippets within modules that lead to unintended object creation.

Our approach involves delving into Python’s module execution mechanism, distinguishing between class definition and instance creation. Through practical examples demonstrating unexpected instantiation scenarios, we aim to empower you with strategies to control object creation during program execution effectively.


# Example module: mymodule.py

class MyClass:
    def __init__(self):
        print("MyClass instance created!")

# Automatic instantiation upon import.
my_instance = MyClass()

# Copyright PHD

To prevent automatic instantiation:

# Revised mymodule.py without automatic instantiation

class MyClass:
    def __init__(self):
        print("MyClass instance created!")

# Instance creation controlled externally.

# Copyright PHD


The automatic instantiation phenomenon stems from executing code at the top level of imported modules. Statements like my_instance = MyClass() outside functions or conditions run during import, causing immediate object generation. By relocating such statements or encapsulating them within guards or functions, we gain control over when objects are instantiated.

  • Ensure top-level statements do not directly instantiate classes.
  • Use if __name__ == “__main__”: guards for conditional execution.
  • Differentiate between class definition and object instantiation.
    What is module import in Python?

    Module import allows incorporating external file contents into your script for reusability.

    How does Python handle circular imports?

    Python resolves circular imports by partially initializing modules before completion. Proper structuring or local imports mitigate issues.

    Can I prevent all instances from being instantiated on import?

    Yes, avoid direct class instantiations at the module’s top level; use functions or conditionals instead.

    What is if __name__ == “__main__”: used for?

    This idiom executes specific code only when a script runs directly, preventing unintended behaviors during imports.

    How do I structure a Python project with multiple files?

    Organize projects by segregating functionalities into modules or packages with clear responsibilities to minimize dependencies.

    Is there a performance impact from unwanted instantiations on import?

    Unintended instantiations consume resources and can slow startup time due to immediate resource allocation at program initiation.

    How can I debug issues related to unexpected object creations?

    Utilize logging in constructors or debugging tools like pdb/pprint for tracing object origins within scripts/modules.


    Understanding why importing a class may instantiate it involves grasping Python’s import mechanics and recognizing triggers within our codebase. Careful management of module contents ensures cleaner architecture and avoids surprises during development cycles.

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