2024-06-22    Share on: Twitter | Facebook | HackerNews | Reddit

Improving Code Maintainability - When to Use Standalone Functions Over Static Methods in Python

When designing and organizing code, developers often face the dilemma of whether to keep a method as part of a class or refactor it into a standalone function. This decision can significantly impact the maintainability, readability, and reusability of the codebase. In particular, the choice between converting a method into a static method or a standalone function can have far-reaching consequences. While static methods can help encapsulate utility functions within a class, they still maintain a degree of coupling with the class. On the other hand, standalone functions offer greater flexibility, reusability, and testability, making them an attractive alternative for many scenarios. I will explore the factors that influence this decision and provide guidelines for determining when to refactor a method into a standalone function or mark it as a static method.


In Python, it is generally better to use standalone functions instead of static methods when the functionality can be used independently of any particular class.

Why to use functions?

Here are some reasons why:

  1. Code organization: Standalone functions can help keep your code organized by separating concerns. When you have a utility function that doesn't depend on any class-specific state or behavior, it makes sense to keep it separate from the class. This improves readability and maintainability.

  2. Code reuse: Functions can be more easily reused across different modules and projects compared to static methods, which are tied to a specific class.

  3. Testing: Functions are generally easier to test than static methods, as you don't need to create an instance of the class or worry about its state.

  4. Polymorphism: Functions can be more easily replaced or mocked for testing or extension purposes, whereas static methods are more tightly coupled to the class.

  5. Documentation: Functions can be documented using docstrings, which can be easily accessed using help() or third-party tools like Sphinx. Static methods can be documented, but their documentation might be less discoverable.

On the other hand, you might want to keep a method as a static method if:

  • It's closely related to the class: If a method is closely related to the class and is used to provide additional functionality that's specific to the class, it's better to keep it as a static method.
  • It's used as a factory function: If a method is used as a factory function to create instances of the class, it's better to keep it as a static method.


when a method can be implemented and used independently of a class, consider refactoring it to a standalone function. This approach can lead to cleaner, more modular, and more maintainable code.