# Making an Iterable in Python

How do you make a new class work in a for loop?

More specifically:

What do I need to put in the [...] to make that work?

## __iter__ and __next__

This is the most obvious answer: implement __iter__(self) and __next__(self) (or just next(self) in Python 2), to fulfill the iterator protocol.

For example:

Running this works like we wanted:

This will also work anywhere an iterable is needed:

Note also that we are changing the object on every iteration, so we need a new object every time:

In some cases, that will be expected; in others, that will be a surprising annoyance.

This is the most straight-forward method, in the sense that it most obviously fulfills the needs of the iterator protocol, but it is also not the only method, or in most cases the simplest to write.

## __iter__ as a generator

We can also implement __iter__ in such a way that it returns a generator, just by using the yield keyword. If you’re not familiar with Python generators, go look them up! They’re often useful! If you are, then you will not be surprised by the code below:

That’s much simpler code, more “Pythonic”, in my mind, and even has the added advantage that you can reuse the same object; self.N doesn’t change when you iterate. Of course, this may not be an advantage, depending on what you’re using it for, but if you can do it that way, its pretty nice!

## __len__ and __getitem__

I just learned this from a Raymond Hettinger talk, but apparently, if you implement __len__ and __getitem__, you get iteration for free:

This is longer than the ones above, but unlike them, you’re also getting indexing (obj[i]) and a len method (len(obj)). If you’re wrapping a protocol from some other language like C or Java, where you access things with some getSize() method and a get(float index) method, this is clearly the way to go.

## __iter__ and __next__ with another class

This is the “long way”, which everything else here is in some way a shortcut to:

This works exactly the same as the ones above, and its reusable. Our first two methods are “shortened” forms of this: the first method uses the same class for TestClass and TestIter, the second uses a generator to produce its TestIter iterator, and the third… well, the third is more magic than I understand. PEP 234 clearly states that you can do this, but I don’t understand how it works internally.