Python Enum Conversion (Ultimate Guide)

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πŸ’‘ Enums (short for enumerations) are a powerful feature in Python that allows for organizing a set of symbolic names (members) bound to unique, constant values. Enums are a convenient way to associate names with constants in a clear and explicit way.

Before diving into the conversion methods, let’s quickly recap the Python enum module. In this example, Color is an enumeration with three members: RED, GREEN, and BLUE, associated with the values 1, 2, and 3, respectively.


from enum import Enum

# Define an enum named Color with a few members
class Color(Enum):
    RED = 1
    GREEN = 2
    BLUE = 3

# Accessing members and their values
Color.RED  # <Color.RED: 1>  # 'RED'
Color.RED.value  # 1

But how do we convert these enums to more common data types and back? Let’s start with the first:

Python Convert Enum to String – and Back

Converting an Enum to a string can be particularly useful for display purposes or when the enumeration needs to be serialized into a format that requires text (like JSON). The reverse process is handy when parsing strings to obtain Enum values.

from enum import Enum

class Color(Enum):
    RED = 1
    GREEN = 2
    BLUE = 3

# Convert Enum to String
color_string =

# Convert String to Enum
color_enum = Color[color_string]

print(color_string)  # Outputs: RED
print(color_enum)    # Outputs: Color.RED

Here, is used to convert an Enum member to a string. On the flip side, Color[color_string] converts a string back to an Enum member. This is particularly helpful in configurations or environments where only strings are usable.

Python Convert Enum to Int – and Back

Sometimes, you might need to convert Enum members to integers for indexing, interfacing with C code, or simple arithmetic. Conversely, converting integers back to Enums is vital for maintaining the encapsulation of Enum types.

# Convert Enum to Int
color_int = Color.RED.value

# Convert Int to Enum
color_enum_from_int = Color(color_int)

print(color_int)                # Outputs: 1
print(color_enum_from_int)      # Outputs: Color.RED

In this snippet, Color.RED.value gives the integer associated with Color.RED. To convert this integer back to an Enum, we call Color(color_int).

Python Convert Enum to List – and Back

Converting an Enum to a list is useful when you need to perform operations that require sequence data types like iterations, mapping, etc. The reversal doesn’t apply typically as you wouldn’t convert a list directly back into an Enum, but you could recreate the Enum if needed.

# Convert Enum to List
color_list = [c for c in Color]

print(color_list)  # Outputs: [<Color.RED: 1>, <Color.GREEN: 2>, <Color.BLUE: 3>]

This list comprehension iterates over the Enum class, converting it into a list of Enum members.

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Python Convert Enum to Dict – and Back

When dealing with Enum members in a dynamic manner, converting it to a dictionary can be incredibly useful, especially when the names and values are needed directly.

# Convert Enum to Dict
color_dict = { color.value for color in Color}

# Convert Dict to Enum
class ColorNew(Enum):

for name, value in color_dict.items():
    setattr(ColorNew, name, value)

print(color_dict)       # Outputs: {'RED': 1, 'GREEN': 2, 'BLUE': 3}
print(ColorNew.RED)     # Outputs: ColorNew.RED

Here, we first create a dictionary from the Enum, ensuring each name maps to its respective value. To convert it back, we dynamically generate a new Enum class and assign values.

Python Convert Enum to JSON – and Back

Serialization of Enums into JSON is essential for configurations and network communications where lightweight data interchange formats are used.

import json

# Convert Enum to JSON
color_json = json.dumps(color_dict)

# Convert JSON to Enum
color_info = json.loads(color_json)
color_enum_from_json = Color[color_info['RED']]

print(color_json)               # Outputs: '{"RED": 1, "GREEN": 2, "BLUE": 3}'
print(color_enum_from_json)     # Outputs: Color.RED

This example shows how you can use a dictionary representation to convert Enum members into JSON and then parse it back.

Python Convert Enum to List of Strings – and Back

In some cases, a list of string representations of Enum members may be required, such as for populating dropdowns in GUI frameworks, or for data validation.

# Convert Enum to List of Strings
color_str_list = [ for color in Color]

# Convert List of Strings to Enum
color_enum_list = [Color[color] for color in color_str_list]

print(color_str_list)        # Outputs: ['RED', 'GREEN', 'BLUE']
print(color_enum_list)       # Outputs: [<Color.RED: 1>, <Color.GREEN: 2>, <Color.BLUE: 3>]

This straightforward comprehension allows for quick conversions to and from lists of string representations.

Python Convert Enum to Tuple – and Back

Tuples, being immutable, serve as a good data structure to hold Enum members when modifications are not required.

# Convert Enum to Tuple
color_tuple = tuple(Color)

# This showcases conversion but typically you won't convert back directly
# However, Enum members can be extracted back from the tuple if needed

print(color_tuple)  # Outputs: (Color.RED, Color.GREEN, Color.BLUE)

While the reverse is uncommon, extracting specific Enum members from a tuple is straightforward.

Python Convert Enum to Literal – and Back

Python type hints support literals which can be handy in situations where function parameters are expected to be specific Enum members only.

from typing import Literal

ColorLiteral = Literal[,,]

# Example function using this literal
def set_background_color(color: ColorLiteral):
    print(f"Setting background color to {color}")

set_background_color('RED')  # Correct usage

# Conversion back is essentially parsing the literal to the Enum
parsed_color = Color['RED']  # Works as expected

print(parsed_color)  # Outputs: Color.RED

Here, Literal is a way to ensure type-checking for functions that should only accept specific Enum members in string form.

Python Convert Enum to Map – and Back

The map function in Python can apply a function over a sequence and is easily demonstrated with Enums.

# Use map to convert Enum to another form
mapped_values = list(map(lambda c: (, c.value), Color))

# Normally you won't convert a map result back to Enum directly
# But you can reconstruct the Enum if needed

print(mapped_values)  # Outputs: [('RED', 1), ('GREEN', 2), ('BLUE', 3)]

Mapping Enum values to a structure like tuple pairs can facilitate operations such as sorting by either names or values.

Python Convert Enum to List of Tuples – and Back

This conversion is useful for creating indexed structures from Enums, beneficial in scenarios where a tuple-based lookup is needed.

# Convert Enum to List of Tuples
color_tuples_list = [(, color.value) for color in Color]

# This can directly be used to reconstruct the Enum if needed
class ReconstructedEnum(Enum):
    RED = 1
    GREEN = 2
    BLUE = 3

print(color_tuples_list)              # Outputs: [('RED', 1), ('GREEN', 2), ('BLUE', 3)]
print(ReconstructedEnum.RED)          # Outputs: ReconstructedEnum.RED

Though direct conversion back isn’t typical, reconstruction is an option here.

Summary of Methods

  • String: Convert with .name and restore with Enum[name].
  • Integer: Use .value and Enum(value).
  • List: Directly iterate over Enum.
  • Dictionary: Comprehensions suit well for conversions; Class redefinition helps in reverse.
  • JSON: Utilize dictionaries for intermediate conversions.
  • List of Strings: Enum names in a list simplify GUI use.
  • Tuple: Direct use for immutable sequence requirements.
  • Literal: Enhance type safety.
  • Map: Apply transformations with map.
  • List of Tuples: Ideal for tuple-based structure requirements.

Using Python Enums effectively means understanding how to transform them to and from different types, broadening their usability across various aspects of Python programming.

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