A class family is a set of class definitions that use single inheritance (each subclass inherits from only one parent) and often multiple inheritance (subclasses can inherit from subclasses). So it's a hierarchy of classes, with one super-parent (termed the "atriarch") at the top.

We offer a way for members of the family to declare themselves simply by living in the right package location. Then those classes can be instantiated using keys or names, without having to be specifically called. The members act independently of each other.

What we get, after importing everything and loading it all, is essentially a little database of classes, where class-level properties become keys for looking up member classes. So, for example, we can have a family of commands, and use a command string to look up the right command.

Ultimately, the atriarch of the family -- the class at the top of the hierarchy -- holds the database, actually a list, in the property called "family". So that class can be queried to find appropriate family member classes or instances thereof.

This utility provides functions for importing family members, loading the "families" property of the super-parent, and querying the family.

In the process of loading and querying the class family, we need to avoid inheritance of attributes. There might be abstract intermediary classes that don't want to play. So we use __dict__ to ensure we're only seeing the atttributes that are defined on that specific class.