How to import a module given it's name as string?


Question

I'm writing a Python application that takes as a command as an argument, for example:

$ python myapp.py command1

I want the application to be extensible, that is, to be able to add new modules that implement new commands without having to change the main application source. The tree looks something like:

myapp/
    __init__.py
    commands/
        __init__.py
        command1.py
        command2.py
    foo.py
    bar.py

So I want the application to find the available command modules at runtime and execute the appropriate one.

Python defines an __import__ function, which takes a string for a module name:

__import__(name, globals=None, locals=None, fromlist=(), level=0)

The function imports the module name, potentially using the given globals and locals to determine how to interpret the name in a package context. The fromlist gives the names of objects or submodules that should be imported from the module given by name.

Source: https://docs.python.org/3/library/functions.html#import

So currently I have something like:

command = sys.argv[1]
try:
    command_module = __import__("myapp.commands.%s" % command, fromlist=["myapp.commands"])
except ImportError:
    # Display error message

command_module.run()

This works just fine, I'm just wondering if there is possibly a more idiomatic way to accomplish what we are doing with this code.

Note that I specifically don't want to get in to using eggs or extension points. This is not an open-source project and I don't expect there to be "plugins". The point is to simplify the main application code and remove the need to modify it each time a new command module is added.

1
456
8/13/2019 11:57:23 AM

Accepted Answer

With Python older than 2.7/3.1, that's pretty much how you do it.

For newer versions, see importlib.import_module for Python 2 and and Python 3.

You can use exec if you want to as well.

Or using __import__ you can import a list of modules by doing this:

>>> moduleNames = ['sys', 'os', 're', 'unittest'] 
>>> moduleNames
['sys', 'os', 're', 'unittest']
>>> modules = map(__import__, moduleNames)

Ripped straight from Dive Into Python.

277
12/24/2018 7:53:08 AM

The recommended way for Python 2.7 and 3.1 and later is to use importlib module:

importlib.import_module(name, package=None)

Import a module. The name argument specifies what module to import in absolute or relative terms (e.g. either pkg.mod or ..mod). If the name is specified in relative terms, then the package argument must be set to the name of the package which is to act as the anchor for resolving the package name (e.g. import_module('..mod', 'pkg.subpkg') will import pkg.mod).

e.g.

my_module = importlib.import_module('os.path')

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