Programs

Data Hiding In Python: What is, Advantages & Disadvantages [With Coding Example]

What is Data Hiding?

It is a method used in object-oriented programming (OOP) to hide with the intention of hiding information/ data within a computer code. Internal object details, such as data members, are hidden within a class. It guarantees restricted access to the data to class members while maintaining object integrity. Data hiding includes a process of combining the data and functions into a single unit to conceal data within a class by restricting direct access to the data from outside the class. If you are a beginner in data science and want to gain expertise, check out our data science courses from top universities. 

Data hiding helps computer programmers create classes with unique data sets and functions by avoiding unnecessary entrance from other classes in the program. Being a software development technique in OOP, it ensures exclusive data access and prevents intended or unintended changes in the data. These limited interdependencies in software components help reduce system complexity and increase the robustness of the program.

Data hiding is also known as information hiding or data encapsulation. The data encapsulation is done to hide the application implementation details from its users. As the intention behind both is the same, encapsulation is also known as data hiding. When a data member is mentioned as private in the class, it is accessible only within the same class and inaccessible outside that class.    

The feature of data hiding, ides the feature of internal data. The feature prevents free access and the access is given to limited access. There are various benefits to having a data hiding feature, one of those is preventing the vulnerability of the data and safeguarding it from potential breaches.

In Python, the data hiding isolates the features, data, class, program, etc from the users. The users do not get free access. This feature of data hiding enhances the security of the system and initiates better reliability. Only a few or very specific people get access.

During the data hiding features, the implementation of the program cannot be seen by the users. This is attained by declaring the class members as private. And a special function is also used for the same, that is a double underscore (__) as a prefix. Apart from enhancing the security the data hiding feature also facilitates in avoiding security.

Some of the data hiding example is the detail of salary. This data is secured and hidden from the rest of the employees. The other employees cannot push a button and access the salary information. And this information is known to very specific users in the system.

Data Hiding in Python

Python is becoming a popular programming language as it applies to all sectors and has easy program implementation tools and libraries. Python document defines Data Hiding as isolating the client from a part of program implementation. Some objects in the module are kept internal, invisible, and inaccessible to the user.

Modules in the program are open enough to understand how to use the application, but users cannot know how the application works. Thus, data hiding provides security, along with avoiding dependency. Data hiding in Python is the method to prevent access to specific users in the application. 

Data hiding in Python is done by using a double underscore before (prefix) the attribute name. This makes the attribute private/ inaccessible and hides them from users. Python has nothing secret in the real sense. Still, the names of private methods and attributes are internally mangled and unmangled on the fly, making them inaccessible by their given names. 

In Python, the process of encapsulation and data hiding works simultaneously. Data encapsulation hides the private methods on the other hand data hiding hides only the data components. The robustness of the data is also increased with data hiding. The private access specifier is used to achieve data hiding. There are three types of access specifiers, private, public, and protected.

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Example of Data Hiding in Python

#!/usr/bin/python

class JustCounter:

   __secretCount = 0

   def count(self):

      self.__secretCount += 1

      print self.__secretCount

counter = JustCounter()

counter.count()

counter.count()

print counter.__secretCount

Output

1

2

Traceback (most recent call last):

   File “test.py”, line 12, in <module>

      print counter.__secretCount

AttributeError: JustCounter instance has no attribute ‘__secretCount’

Python internally changes the names of members in the class that is accessed by object._className__attrName. 

If the last line is changed as:

…………………….

print counter._JustCounter__secretCount

Then it works, and the output is:

1

2

2 

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Advantages of Data Hiding

  • The objects within the class are disconnected from irrelevant data.
  • It heightens the security against hackers that are unable to access confidential data.
  • It prevents programmers from accidental linkage to incorrect data. If the programmer links this data in the code, it will only return an error by indicating corrections in the mistake.
  • It isolates objects as the basic concept of OOP.
  • It helps to prevent damage to volatile data by hiding it from the public.
  • A user outside from the organisation cannot attain the access to the data.
  • Within the organisation/ system only specific users get the access. This allows better operation.
  • The class objects may sometimes also be disconnected from the irrelevant stream of data.

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Disadvantages of Data Hiding

  • It may sometimes force the programmer to use extra coding. 
  • The link between the visible and invisible data makes the objects work faster, but data hiding prevents this linkage.  
  • Data hiding can make it harder for a programmer and need to write lengthy codes to create effects in the hidden data.
  • Sometimes the programmers would have to write lengthy codes, although they may be hidden from the clientele.

Thus, data hiding is helpful in Python when it comes to privacy and security to specific information within the application. It increases work for programmers while linking hidden data in the code. But, the advantages it offers are truly unavoidable. 

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And in totality, the data hiding in software engineering also plays a big role. It is a technique in software development especially in the Object-Oriented-Programming (OOP) to hide the data of internal members. And data hiding in oops also prevent the misuse of the data and makes sure that the class objects are disconnected from the data that is irrelevant

This data hiding feature in software engineering ensures that there is exclusive access to the data and that the data is not placed in a vulnerable situation. The data is accessible only to the class members when the data is hidden in the software engineering. This answers one of the most pertinent questions asked, “ What is data hiding in software engineering?”

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What is data hiding in Python?

Data hiding is one of the core concepts of Object-Oriented programming which restricts the access of the data from the outside world. Details such as data members are kept hidden with the help of the “Private” access specifier. Consider the following example for better understanding.
Suppose we have a class called myClass and a private member called __privateCounter. Inside this class, we have a function called myFunc that increments the value of __privateCounter by 1 and prints it. Outside the class, we have created an object of the class and called the myFunc using this object. Now, if we try to print __privateCounter using this object, it will throw an error.
In the above example, the “__privateCounter” is by default a private member of the class “myClass”. Since we have performed data hiding on it, it can not be accessed outside the class in which it has been declared. To access the private members, we have to define a member function, which in this case is “myFunc”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of data hiding?

Although data hiding is a core concept of OOPs and has many advantages, it has some disadvantages too. The following are some of the most significant advantages and disadvantages of data hiding in Python:
Advantages
1. It helps to prevent the misuse and manipulation of volatile data by declaring it as private.
2. The data members of the class are delinked from the irrelevant data.
3. It isolates objects as the basic concept of OOP.
Disadvantages
1. Programmers often are forced to write lengthy codes in order to protect the volatile data from the clients.
2. The objects work comparatively slower as the linkage between the visible and invisible data makes it work fast and the data hiding prevents this linkage.

How does data hiding differ from data abstraction?

Data hiding supports the idea of restricting the data so that it cannot be accessed or modified by the outside world. For example, the salary details of an employee are hidden from other employees. In Python, this is achieved by using the “private access modifier”.
Data abstraction refers to the idea of concealing the internal implementation and only showing the features to the outer world. For example, in a calculator, you are only shown the operations performed by the calculator. However, you cannot see the internal working of these operations. In Python, different access specifiers are used to implement this.

How is data hiding done?

In Python, data hiding is achieved using a feature of double underscore (__) as a prefix. This initiates the hiding feature in the attribute. As the attribute becomes inaccessible for the users.

Is data hiding and encapsulation the same?

Data hiding and encapsulation prioritise different things. Data hiding focuses on maintaining and ensuring the security is tight and maintained throughout. Whereas, data encapsulation focuses on the encapsulation/ wrapping of the data in such a way that the view becomes simpler for the users. Another difference is the presence, for example by the term it is certain in data hiding the data is definitely private. Whereas, in data encapsulation, the data can be either private or public.

What is the importance of information hiding?

The importance of information hiding is very crucial. The information’s access is restricted and is available only to those users who are supposed to be having access. Another importance of information hiding is the security that it enables, the data can be encrypted in such a way that it remains protected from potential breaches and unauthorized access from attackers.

How do you hide a function in Python?

Double underscore (__) can be used to hide. It can be added in front of the variable by doing this the function can be hidden while accessing.

What is a datatype in Python?

Data types are the categorisation of the knowledge items. There are various kinds of data types. And in python, there are six kinds of data types- Numeric String List Tuple Set Dictionary

What is __init__ in Python?

__init__ is a function in Python. Whenever the object is created from a class the __init__ function is called. And this function is used only within the classes.

What is data abstraction with example?

Data abstraction is a way to reduce a particular body of data into its simplified version. Only the essential elements remain by reducing the characteristics. Therefore, in abstraction, only the essential characteristics are shown and the background details or implementations remain hidden. Answering a phone is one example of data abstraction, a person driving a car, or responding to texts are some examples of data abstraction.

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