python / 3.7.2rc1 / all / library-imp.html

imp — Access the import internals

Source code: Lib/

Deprecated since version 3.4: The imp module is deprecated in favor of importlib.

This module provides an interface to the mechanisms used to implement the import statement. It defines the following constants and functions:

imp. get_magic ( )

Return the magic string value used to recognize byte-compiled code files (.pyc files). (This value may be different for each Python version.)

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use importlib.util.MAGIC_NUMBER instead.

imp. get_suffixes ( )

Return a list of 3-element tuples, each describing a particular type of module. Each triple has the form (suffix, mode, type), where suffix is a string to be appended to the module name to form the filename to search for, mode is the mode string to pass to the built-in open() function to open the file (this can be 'r' for text files or 'rb' for binary files), and type is the file type, which has one of the values PY_SOURCE, PY_COMPILED, or C_EXTENSION, described below.

Deprecated since version 3.3: Use the constants defined on importlib.machinery instead.

imp. find_module ( name [, path ] )

Try to find the module name. If path is omitted or None, the list of directory names given by sys.path is searched, but first a few special places are searched: the function tries to find a built-in module with the given name (C_BUILTIN), then a frozen module (PY_FROZEN), and on some systems some other places are looked in as well (on Windows, it looks in the registry which may point to a specific file).

Otherwise, path must be a list of directory names; each directory is searched for files with any of the suffixes returned by get_suffixes() above. Invalid names in the list are silently ignored (but all list items must be strings).

If search is successful, the return value is a 3-element tuple (file, pathname, description):

file is an open file object positioned at the beginning, pathname is the pathname of the file found, and description is a 3-element tuple as contained in the list returned by get_suffixes() describing the kind of module found.

If the module is built-in or frozen then file and pathname are both None and the description tuple contains empty strings for its suffix and mode; the module type is indicated as given in parentheses above. If the search is unsuccessful, ImportError is raised. Other exceptions indicate problems with the arguments or environment.

If the module is a package, file is None, pathname is the package path and the last item in the description tuple is PKG_DIRECTORY.

This function does not handle hierarchical module names (names containing dots). In order to find P.M, that is, submodule M of package P, use find_module() and load_module() to find and load package P, and then use find_module() with the path argument set to P.__path__. When P itself has a dotted name, apply this recipe recursively.

Deprecated since version 3.3: Use importlib.util.find_spec() instead unless Python 3.3 compatibility is required, in which case use importlib.find_loader(). For example usage of the former case, see the Examples section of the importlib documentation.

imp. load_module ( name, file, pathname, description )

Load a module that was previously found by find_module() (or by an otherwise conducted search yielding compatible results). This function does more than importing the module: if the module was already imported, it will reload the module! The name argument indicates the full module name (including the package name, if this is a submodule of a package). The file argument is an open file, and pathname is the corresponding file name; these can be None and '', respectively, when the module is a package or not being loaded from a file. The description argument is a tuple, as would be returned by get_suffixes(), describing what kind of module must be loaded.

If the load is successful, the return value is the module object; otherwise, an exception (usually ImportError) is raised.

Important: the caller is responsible for closing the file argument, if it was not None, even when an exception is raised. This is best done using a tryfinally statement.

Deprecated since version 3.3: If previously used in conjunction with imp.find_module() then consider using importlib.import_module(), otherwise use the loader returned by the replacement you chose for imp.find_module(). If you called imp.load_module() and related functions directly with file path arguments then use a combination of importlib.util.spec_from_file_location() and importlib.util.module_from_spec(). See the Examples section of the importlib documentation for details of the various approaches.

imp. new_module ( name )

Return a new empty module object called name. This object is not inserted in sys.modules.

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use importlib.util.module_from_spec() instead.

imp. reload ( module )

Reload a previously imported module. The argument must be a module object, so it must have been successfully imported before. This is useful if you have edited the module source file using an external editor and want to try out the new version without leaving the Python interpreter. The return value is the module object (the same as the module argument).

When reload(module) is executed:

  • Python modules’ code is recompiled and the module-level code reexecuted, defining a new set of objects which are bound to names in the module’s dictionary. The init function of extension modules is not called a second time.

  • As with all other objects in Python the old objects are only reclaimed after their reference counts drop to zero.

  • The names in the module namespace are updated to point to any new or changed objects.

  • Other references to the old objects (such as names external to the module) are not rebound to refer to the new objects and must be updated in each namespace where they occur if that is desired.

There are a number of other caveats:

When a module is reloaded, its dictionary (containing the module’s global variables) is retained. Redefinitions of names will override the old definitions, so this is generally not a problem. If the new version of a module does not define a name that was defined by the old version, the old definition remains. This feature can be used to the module’s advantage if it maintains a global table or cache of objects — with a try statement it can test for the table’s presence and skip its initialization if desired:

except NameError:
    cache = {}

It is legal though generally not very useful to reload built-in or dynamically loaded modules, except for sys, __main__ and builtins. In many cases, however, extension modules are not designed to be initialized more than once, and may fail in arbitrary ways when reloaded.

If a module imports objects from another module using fromimport …, calling reload() for the other module does not redefine the objects imported from it — one way around this is to re-execute the from statement, another is to use import and qualified names (module.*name*) instead.

If a module instantiates instances of a class, reloading the module that defines the class does not affect the method definitions of the instances — they continue to use the old class definition. The same is true for derived classes.

Changed in version 3.3: Relies on both __name__ and __loader__ being defined on the module being reloaded instead of just __name__.

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use importlib.reload() instead.

The following functions are conveniences for handling PEP 3147 byte-compiled file paths.

New in version 3.2.

imp. cache_from_source ( path, debug_override=None )

Return the PEP 3147 path to the byte-compiled file associated with the source path. For example, if path is /foo/bar/ the return value would be /foo/bar/__pycache__/baz.cpython-32.pyc for Python 3.2. The cpython-32 string comes from the current magic tag (see get_tag(); if sys.implementation.cache_tag is not defined then NotImplementedError will be raised). By passing in True or False for debug_override you can override the system’s value for __debug__, leading to optimized bytecode.

path need not exist.

Changed in version 3.3: If sys.implementation.cache_tag is None, then NotImplementedError is raised.

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use importlib.util.cache_from_source() instead.

Changed in version 3.5: The debug_override parameter no longer creates a .pyo file.

imp. source_from_cache ( path )

Given the path to a PEP 3147 file name, return the associated source code file path. For example, if path is /foo/bar/__pycache__/baz.cpython-32.pyc the returned path would be /foo/bar/ path need not exist, however if it does not conform to PEP 3147 format, a ValueError is raised. If sys.implementation.cache_tag is not defined, NotImplementedError is raised.

Changed in version 3.3: Raise NotImplementedError when sys.implementation.cache_tag is not defined.

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use importlib.util.source_from_cache() instead.

imp. get_tag ( )

Return the PEP 3147 magic tag string matching this version of Python’s magic number, as returned by get_magic().

Deprecated since version 3.4: Use sys.implementation.cache_tag directly starting in Python 3.3.

The following functions help interact with the import system’s internal locking mechanism. Locking semantics of imports are an implementation detail which may vary from release to release. However, Python ensures that circular imports work without any deadlocks.

imp. lock_held ( )

Return True if the global import lock is currently held, else False. On platforms without threads, always return False.

On platforms with threads, a thread executing an import first holds a global import lock, then sets up a per-module lock for the rest of the import. This blocks other threads from importing the same module until the original import completes, preventing other threads from seeing incomplete module objects constructed by the original thread. An exception is made for circular imports, which by construction have to expose an incomplete module object at some point.

Changed in version 3.3: The locking scheme has changed to per-module locks for the most part. A global import lock is kept for some critical tasks, such as initializing the per-module locks.

Deprecated since version 3.4.

imp. acquire_lock ( )

Acquire the interpreter’s global import lock for the current thread. This lock should be used by import hooks to ensure thread-safety when importing modules.

Once a thread has acquired the import lock, the same thread may acquire it again without blocking; the thread must release it once for each time it has acquired it.

On platforms without threads, this function does nothing.

Changed in version 3.3: The locking scheme has changed to per-module locks for the most part. A global import lock is kept for some critical tasks, such as initializing the per-module locks.

Deprecated since version 3.4.

imp. release_lock ( )

Release the interpreter’s global import lock. On platforms without threads, this function does nothing.

Changed in version 3.3: The locking scheme has changed to per-module locks for the most part. A global import lock is kept for some critical tasks, such as initializing the per-module locks.

Deprecated since version 3.4.

The following constants with integer values, defined in this module, are used to indicate the search result of find_module().


The module was found as a source file.

Deprecated since version 3.3.


The module was found as a compiled code object file.

Deprecated since version 3.3.


The module was found as dynamically loadable shared library.

Deprecated since version 3.3.


The module was found as a package directory.

Deprecated since version 3.3.


The module was found as a built-in module.

Deprecated since version 3.3.


The module was found as a frozen module.

Deprecated since version 3.3.

class imp. NullImporter ( path_string )

The NullImporter type is a PEP 302 import hook that handles non-directory path strings by failing to find any modules. Calling this type with an existing directory or empty string raises ImportError. Otherwise, a NullImporter instance is returned.

Instances have only one method:

find_module ( fullname [, path ] )

This method always returns None, indicating that the requested module could not be found.

Changed in version 3.3: None is inserted into sys.path_importer_cache instead of an instance of NullImporter.

Deprecated since version 3.4: Insert None into sys.path_importer_cache instead.


The following function emulates what was the standard import statement up to Python 1.4 (no hierarchical module names). (This implementation wouldn’t work in that version, since find_module() has been extended and load_module() has been added in 1.4.)

import imp
import sys

def __import__(name, globals=None, locals=None, fromlist=None):
    # Fast path: see if the module has already been imported.
        return sys.modules[name]
    except KeyError:

    # If any of the following calls raises an exception,
    # there's a problem we can't handle -- let the caller handle it.

    fp, pathname, description = imp.find_module(name)

        return imp.load_module(name, fp, pathname, description)
        # Since we may exit via an exception, close fp explicitly.
        if fp: