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Given a function object, how can I get its signature? For example, for:

def myMethod(firt, second, third='something'):

I would like to get "myMethod(firt, second, third='something')".

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    • Presumably he's looking for functionality in Python or third-party libraries that will return a method's signature (names and types of parameters and return value) given the method's name.
import inspect

def foo(a, b, x='blah'):

# ArgSpec(args=['a', 'b', 'x'], varargs=None, keywords=None, defaults=('blah',))

However, note that inspect.getargspec() is deprecated since Python 3.0.

Python 3.0--3.4 recommends inspect.getfullargspec().

Python 3.5+ recommends inspect.signature().

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      • 1
    • If a function has argument annotations or keyword only arguments (= if you are using Python 3) you have to call getfullargspec instead. (ValueError: Function has keyword-only arguments or annotations, use getfullargspec() API which can support them)
    • @darth_coder: In Python2, getargspec raises TypeError if the input is not recognized as a Python function -- that is, a function implemented in Python. In CPython, Exception.__init__ is implemented in C, hence the TypeError. You'll have to check the source code to understand the call signature. In Python3, getargspec is implemented differently, and there inspect.getargspec(Exception.__init__) returns a ArgSpec instance.

Arguably the easiest way to find the signature for a function would be help(function):

>>> def function(arg1, arg2="foo", *args, **kwargs): pass
>>> help(function)
Help on function function in module __main__:

function(arg1, arg2='foo', *args, **kwargs)

Also, in Python 3 a method was added to the inspect module called signature, which is designed to represent the signature of a callable object and its return annotation:

>>> from inspect import signature
>>> def foo(a, *, b:int, **kwargs):
...     pass

>>> sig = signature(foo)

>>> str(sig)
'(a, *, b:int, **kwargs)'

>>> str(sig.parameters['b'])

>>> sig.parameters['b'].annotation
<class 'int'>
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#! /usr/bin/env python

import inspect
from collections import namedtuple

DefaultArgSpec = namedtuple('DefaultArgSpec', 'has_default default_value')

def _get_default_arg(args, defaults, arg_index):
    """ Method that determines if an argument has default value or not,
    and if yes what is the default value for the argument

    :param args: array of arguments, eg: ['first_arg', 'second_arg', 'third_arg']
    :param defaults: array of default values, eg: (42, 'something')
    :param arg_index: index of the argument in the argument array for which,
    this function checks if a default value exists or not. And if default value
    exists it would return the default value. Example argument: 1
    :return: Tuple of whether there is a default or not, and if yes the default
    value, eg: for index 2 i.e. for "second_arg" this function returns (True, 42)
    if not defaults:
        return DefaultArgSpec(False, None)

    args_with_no_defaults = len(args) - len(defaults)

    if arg_index < args_with_no_defaults:
        return DefaultArgSpec(False, None)
        value = defaults[arg_index - args_with_no_defaults]
        if (type(value) is str):
            value = '"%s"' % value
        return DefaultArgSpec(True, value)

def get_method_sig(method):
    """ Given a function, it returns a string that pretty much looks how the
    function signature would be written in python.

    :param method: a python method
    :return: A string similar describing the pythong method signature.
    eg: "my_method(first_argArg, second_arg=42, third_arg='something')"

    # The return value of ArgSpec is a bit weird, as the list of arguments and
    # list of defaults are returned in separate array.
    # eg: ArgSpec(args=['first_arg', 'second_arg', 'third_arg'],
    # varargs=None, keywords=None, defaults=(42, 'something'))
    argspec = inspect.getargspec(method)
    args = []

    # Use the args and defaults array returned by argspec and find out
    # which arguments has default
    for arg in argspec.args:
        default_arg = _get_default_arg(argspec.args, argspec.defaults, arg_index)
        if default_arg.has_default:
            args.append("%s=%s" % (arg, default_arg.default_value))
        arg_index += 1
    return "%s(%s)" % (method.__name__, ", ".join(args))

if __name__ == '__main__':
    def my_method(first_arg, second_arg=42, third_arg='something'):

    print get_method_sig(my_method)
    # my_method(first_argArg, second_arg=42, third_arg="something")
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Try calling help on an object to find out about it.

>>> foo = [1, 2, 3]
>>> help(foo.append)
Help on built-in function append:

    L.append(object) -- append object to end
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Maybe a bit late to the party, but if you also want to keep the order of the arguments and their defaults, then you can use the Abstract Syntax Tree module (ast).

Here's a proof of concept (beware the code to sort the arguments and match them to their defaults can definitely be improved/made more clear):

import ast

for class_ in [c for c in module.body if isinstance(c, ast.ClassDef)]:
    for method in [m for m in class_.body if isinstance(m, ast.FunctionDef)]:
        args = []
        if method.args.args:
            [args.append([a.col_offset, a.id]) for a in method.args.args]
        if method.args.defaults:
            [args.append([a.col_offset, '=' + a.id]) for a in method.args.defaults]
        sorted_args = sorted(args)
        for i, p in enumerate(sorted_args):
            if p[1].startswith('='):
                sorted_args[i-1][1] += p[1]
        sorted_args = [k[1] for k in sorted_args if not k[1].startswith('=')]

        if method.args.vararg:
            sorted_args.append('*' + method.args.vararg)
        if method.args.kwarg:
            sorted_args.append('**' + method.args.kwarg)

        signature = '(' + ', '.join(sorted_args) + ')'

        print method.name + signature
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If all you're trying to do is print the function then use pydoc.

import pydoc    

def foo(arg1, arg2, *args, **kwargs):                                                                    
    '''Some foo fn'''                                                                                    

>>> print pydoc.render_doc(foo).splitlines()[2]
foo(arg1, arg2, *args, **kwargs)

If you're trying to actually analyze the function signature then use argspec of the inspection module. I had to do that when validating a user's hook script function into a general framework.

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Example code:

import inspect
from collections import OrderedDict

def get_signature(fn):
    params = inspect.signature(fn).parameters
    args = []
    kwargs = OrderedDict()
    for p in params.values():
        if p.default is p.empty:
            kwargs[p.name] = p.default
    return args, kwargs

def test_sig():
    def fn(a, b, c, d=3, e="abc"):

    assert get_signature(fn) == (
        ["a", "b", "c"], OrderedDict([("d", 3), ("e", "abc")])
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Use %pdef in the command line (IPython), it will print only the signature.

e.g. %pdef np.loadtxt

 np.loadtxt(fname, dtype=<class 'float'>, comments='#', delimiter=None, converters=None, skiprows=0, usecols=None, unpack=False, ndmin=0, encoding='bytes')
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