Use named tuples to stop yourself from remembering order of tuples

Let's consider an example where you're returning some info about a Person object from a function in the form of a tuple.

def info():
    return name, address, age

Now, in this scenario the receiving function needs to know the sequence in which the values are being returned.

Although, this might not seem to be much of an issue for a one-time use case, let me try to explain some possible issues with this.

  • You or someone else has to remember the exact sequence of value when reading this code.
  • When you come back and read this code after a month, there is a high probability that you might not remember the exact sequence and have to refer to the original function info.

Since code is read more often that it is written, it is important to write code that is more readable. This is where namedtuple come in.

Using namedtuple

We can namedtuple to return an object and access the attributes of that object to get our values. The code below does this for you. Keep in mind, we will learn the newer syntax(using the typing module) later in this blog.

from collections import namedtuple

def info():
    Person = namedtuple('Person', ['name', 'address', 'age'])
    # initialize using positional or keyword arguments
    person = Person('foo', 'bar', age=25)
    return person


Now you can access the same values as:

def access_info():
    person = info()
    # access fields via name
    name =
    age = person.age

The above syntax is more readable and you no longer have to remember the sequence. Yippee !!!

Compatibility with older code

The older syntax is still valid, i.e. you can still unpack this to use the earlier syntax

name, address, age = info()


Accessing namedtuple as dictionary

In case you want to access the attributes as a dictionary, you can  use the _asdict method of the namedtuple.

def access_info():
    person = info()
    person_dict = person._asdict()
    # OrderedDict([('name', 'foo'), ('address', 'bar'), ('age', 25)])


Newer Syntax

If you're using python 3.6 or above(hopefully), and want to use the static typing(I love it), you can use the newer syntax. The code below works the same as above.

from typing import NamedTuple

class Person(NamedTuple):
    name: str
    address: str
    age: int

# the inline syntax below also works, although I prefer the one above as it seems more readable to me.
Person = NamedTuple('Person', name=str, address=str, age=int)

You can still access this NamedTuple object as a normal method and also, use its _asdict method if you want.



In case, you're writing code for python versions >= 3.6, I would advise you to use the newer syntax. Hopefully you would have enjoyed reading this post, and use the power of namedtuple to write cleaner code.

Till we meet again in another post, keep hacking.


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