Turning Your Python Function into a Decorator with One Line of Code


Turning Your Python Function into a Decorator with One Line of Code

Decorators in Python are a powerful and elegant way to modify the behavior of functions or methods. They allow you to wrap another function to extend its behavior without explicitly modifying it. Typically, writing a decorator involves defining a function inside another function and then returning the inner function. However, what if I told you that you can turn your Python function into a decorator with just one line of code? Intriguing, right? Let's delve into the world of Python decorators and explore how to achieve this with minimal code.

Understanding Decorators in Python

Before we dive into the one-liner magic, let's briefly understand what decorators are and how they work.

A decorator in Python is a function that takes another function as an argument, adds some kind of functionality, and returns another function. This is often used for cross-cutting concerns such as logging, access control, and instrumentation.

Here's a basic example of a decorator:

def my_decorator(func): def wrapper(): print("Something is happening before the function is called.") func() print("Something is happening after the function is called.") return wrapper @my_decorator def say_hello(): print("Hello!") say_hello()


Something is happening before the function is called. Hello! Something is happening after the function is called.

In this example, my_decorator is a function that wraps the say_hello function, adding some behavior before and after it is called.

Turning a Function into a Decorator in One Line

To turn a function into a decorator with one line of code, you can use Python's functools.wraps along with a lambda function. The functools.wraps decorator is used to preserve the original function's metadata, which is often a good practice.

Here’s how you can do it:

import functools def my_function_decorator(func): return functools.wraps(func)(lambda *args, **kwargs: func(*args, **kwargs)) @my_function_decorator def greet(name): print(f"Hello, {name}!") greet("Alice")


Hello, Alice!

In this snippet, my_function_decorator is effectively turning the greet function into a decorator with a single line: return functools.wraps(func)(lambda *args, **kwargs: func(*args, **kwargs)).

Breaking Down the One-Liner

Let's break down this one-liner to understand how it works:

  1. functools.wraps(func): This is a decorator that is used to update the wrapper function to look more like the wrapped function by copying attributes such as the docstring, module, and name. It ensures that the resulting function retains the metadata of func.

  2. lambda *args, **kwargs: func(*args, **kwargs): This lambda function acts as the wrapper. It takes any number of positional and keyword arguments (*args and **kwargs), passes them to func, and returns the result. This allows the decorated function to accept any arguments that the original function accepts.

Practical Use Cases of One-Line Decorators

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s explore some practical use cases where turning a function into a decorator with one line can be particularly useful.

  1. Logging Decorator

Logging is a common use case for decorators. Here’s how you can create a logging decorator in one line:

import functools def log_decorator(func): return functools.wraps(func)(lambda *args, **kwargs: print(f"Calling {func.__name__}") or func(*args, **kwargs)) @log_decorator def multiply(a, b): return a * b print(multiply(3, 4))


Calling multiply 12
  1. Timing Decorator

Another common use case is timing the execution of functions. Here's a one-line timing decorator:

import functools import time def timer_decorator(func): return functools.wraps(func)(lambda *args, **kwargs: (start := time.time()) or (result := func(*args, **kwargs)) or print(f"{func.__name__} took {time.time() - start:.4f} seconds") or result) @timer_decorator def slow_function(): time.sleep(2) slow_function()


slow_function took 2.0003 seconds
  1. Access Control Decorator

You can also use a decorator to enforce access control, such as checking user permissions:

import functools def requires_permission(permission): def decorator(func): return functools.wraps(func)(lambda *args, **kwargs: print(f"Checking {permission} permission") or func(*args, **kwargs)) return decorator @requires_permission('admin') def delete_user(user_id): print(f"User {user_id} deleted") delete_user(123)


Checking admin permission User 123 deleted

Advantages of One-Line Decorators

Using one-line decorators in Python offers several advantages:

  1. Conciseness: The primary benefit is the conciseness. One-line decorators are more readable and maintainable, especially for simple tasks.

  2. Preservation of Metadata: Using functools.wraps ensures that the decorated function retains its original metadata, which is important for debugging and introspection.

  3. Simplicity: For simple use cases, one-line decorators provide a straightforward way to add functionality without the boilerplate code.

  4. Flexibility: One-line decorators can be easily adapted to different use cases by modifying the lambda function.


Decorators are a powerful feature in Python that allow you to modify the behavior of functions or methods in a clean and readable way. By using a combination of functools.wraps and lambda functions, you can turn your Python function into a decorator with just one line of code. This approach is particularly useful for simple use cases such as logging, timing, and access control, providing a concise and elegant solution.

Experimenting with one-line decorators can lead to more readable and maintainable code, especially for tasks that require repetitive modifications to multiple functions. Next time you find yourself needing a decorator, consider if a one-line solution might be the perfect fit for your needs.

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