Extending Pandas

While pandas provides a rich set of methods, containers, and data types, your needs may not be fully satisfied. Pandas offers a few options for extending pandas.

Registering Custom Accessors

Libraries can use the decorators pandas.api.extensions.register_dataframe_accessor(), pandas.api.extensions.register_series_accessor(), and pandas.api.extensions.register_index_accessor(), to add additional “namespaces” to pandas objects. All of these follow a similar convention: you decorate a class, providing the name of attribute to add. The class’s __init__ method gets the object being decorated. For example:

class GeoAccessor(object):
    def __init__(self, pandas_obj):
        self._obj = pandas_obj

    def center(self):
        # return the geographic center point of this DataFrame
        lat = self._obj.latitude
        lon = self._obj.longitude
        return (float(lon.mean()), float(lat.mean()))

    def plot(self):
        # plot this array's data on a map, e.g., using Cartopy

Now users can access your methods using the geo namespace:

>>> ds = pd.DataFrame({'longitude': np.linspace(0, 10),
...                    'latitude': np.linspace(0, 20)})
>>> ds.geo.center
(5.0, 10.0)
>>> ds.geo.plot()
# plots data on a map

This can be a convenient way to extend pandas objects without subclassing them. If you write a custom accessor, make a pull request adding it to our pandas Ecosystem page.

Extension Types

New in version 0.23.0.


The pandas.api.extension.ExtensionDtype and pandas.api.extension.ExtensionArray APIs are new and experimental. They may change between versions without warning.

Pandas defines an interface for implementing data types and arrays that extend NumPy’s type system. Pandas itself uses the extension system for some types that aren’t built into NumPy (categorical, period, interval, datetime with timezone).

Libraries can define a custom array and data type. When pandas encounters these objects, they will be handled properly (i.e. not converted to an ndarray of objects). Many methods like pandas.isna() will dispatch to the extension type’s implementation.

If you’re building a library that implements the interface, please publicize it on Extension Data Types.

The interface consists of two classes.


A pandas.api.extension.ExtensionDtype is similar to a numpy.dtype object. It describes the data type. Implementors are responsible for a few unique items like the name.

One particularly important item is the type property. This should be the class that is the scalar type for your data. For example, if you were writing an extension array for IP Address data, this might be ipaddress.IPv4Address.

See the extension dtype source for interface definition.


This class provides all the array-like functionality. ExtensionArrays are limited to 1 dimension. An ExtensionArray is linked to an ExtensionDtype via the dtype attribute.

Pandas makes no restrictions on how an extension array is created via its __new__ or __init__, and puts no restrictions on how you store your data. We do require that your array be convertible to a NumPy array, even if this is relatively expensive (as it is for Categorical).

They may be backed by none, one, or many NumPy arrays. For example, pandas.Categorical is an extension array backed by two arrays, one for codes and one for categories. An array of IPv6 addresses may be backed by a NumPy structured array with two fields, one for the lower 64 bits and one for the upper 64 bits. Or they may be backed by some other storage type, like Python lists.

See the extension array source for the interface definition. The docstrings and comments contain guidance for properly implementing the interface.

We provide a test suite for ensuring that your extension arrays satisfy the expected behavior. To use the test suite, you must provide several pytest fixtures and inherit from the base test class. The required fixtures are found in https://github.com/pandas-dev/pandas/blob/master/pandas/tests/extension/conftest.py.

To use a test, subclass it:

from pandas.tests.extension import base

class TestConstructors(base.BaseConstructorsTests):

See https://github.com/pandas-dev/pandas/blob/master/pandas/tests/extension/base/__init__.py for a list of all the tests available.

Subclassing pandas Data Structures


There are some easier alternatives before considering subclassing pandas data structures.

  1. Extensible method chains with pipe
  2. Use composition. See here.
  3. Extending by registering an accessor
  4. Extending by extension type

This section describes how to subclass pandas data structures to meet more specific needs. There are two points that need attention:

  1. Override constructor properties.
  2. Define original properties


You can find a nice example in geopandas project.

Override Constructor Properties

Each data structure has several constructor properties for returning a new data structure as the result of an operation. By overriding these properties, you can retain subclasses through pandas data manipulations.

There are 3 constructor properties to be defined:

  • _constructor: Used when a manipulation result has the same dimesions as the original.
  • _constructor_sliced: Used when a manipulation result has one lower dimension(s) as the original, such as DataFrame single columns slicing.
  • _constructor_expanddim: Used when a manipulation result has one higher dimension as the original, such as Series.to_frame() and DataFrame.to_panel().

Following table shows how pandas data structures define constructor properties by default.

Property Attributes Series DataFrame
_constructor Series DataFrame
_constructor_sliced NotImplementedError Series
_constructor_expanddim DataFrame Panel

Below example shows how to define SubclassedSeries and SubclassedDataFrame overriding constructor properties.

class SubclassedSeries(Series):

    def _constructor(self):
        return SubclassedSeries

    def _constructor_expanddim(self):
        return SubclassedDataFrame

class SubclassedDataFrame(DataFrame):

    def _constructor(self):
        return SubclassedDataFrame

    def _constructor_sliced(self):
        return SubclassedSeries
>>> s = SubclassedSeries([1, 2, 3])
>>> type(s)
<class '__main__.SubclassedSeries'>

>>> to_framed = s.to_frame()
>>> type(to_framed)
<class '__main__.SubclassedDataFrame'>

>>> df = SubclassedDataFrame({'A', [1, 2, 3], 'B': [4, 5, 6], 'C': [7, 8, 9]})
>>> df
   A  B  C
0  1  4  7
1  2  5  8
2  3  6  9

>>> type(df)
<class '__main__.SubclassedDataFrame'>

>>> sliced1 = df[['A', 'B']]
>>> sliced1
   A  B
0  1  4
1  2  5
2  3  6
>>> type(sliced1)
<class '__main__.SubclassedDataFrame'>

>>> sliced2 = df['A']
>>> sliced2
0    1
1    2
2    3
Name: A, dtype: int64
>>> type(sliced2)
<class '__main__.SubclassedSeries'>

Define Original Properties

To let original data structures have additional properties, you should let pandas know what properties are added. pandas maps unknown properties to data names overriding __getattribute__. Defining original properties can be done in one of 2 ways:

  1. Define _internal_names and _internal_names_set for temporary properties which WILL NOT be passed to manipulation results.
  2. Define _metadata for normal properties which will be passed to manipulation results.

Below is an example to define two original properties, “internal_cache” as a temporary property and “added_property” as a normal property

class SubclassedDataFrame2(DataFrame):

    # temporary properties
    _internal_names = pd.DataFrame._internal_names + ['internal_cache']
    _internal_names_set = set(_internal_names)

    # normal properties
    _metadata = ['added_property']

    def _constructor(self):
        return SubclassedDataFrame2
>>> df = SubclassedDataFrame2({'A': [1, 2, 3], 'B': [4, 5, 6], 'C': [7, 8, 9]})
>>> df
   A  B  C
0  1  4  7
1  2  5  8
2  3  6  9

>>> df.internal_cache = 'cached'
>>> df.added_property = 'property'

>>> df.internal_cache
>>> df.added_property

# properties defined in _internal_names is reset after manipulation
>>> df[['A', 'B']].internal_cache
AttributeError: 'SubclassedDataFrame2' object has no attribute 'internal_cache'

# properties defined in _metadata are retained
>>> df[['A', 'B']].added_property
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