How do I get a Cron like scheduler in Python?


I'm looking for a library in Python which will provide at and cron like functionality.

I'd quite like have a pure Python solution, rather than relying on tools installed on the box; this way I run on machines with no cron.

For those unfamiliar with cron: you can schedule tasks based upon an expression like:

 0 2 * * 7 /usr/bin/run-backup # run the backups at 0200 on Every Sunday
 0 9-17/2 * * 1-5 /usr/bin/purge-temps # run the purge temps command, every 2 hours between 9am and 5pm on Mondays to Fridays.

The cron time expression syntax is less important, but I would like to have something with this sort of flexibility.

If there isn't something that does this for me out-the-box, any suggestions for the building blocks to make something like this would be gratefully received.

Edit I'm not interested in launching processes, just "jobs" also written in Python - python functions. By necessity I think this would be a different thread, but not in a different process.

To this end, I'm looking for the expressivity of the cron time expression, but in Python.

Cron has been around for years, but I'm trying to be as portable as possible. I cannot rely on its presence.

11/15/2017 11:41:29 AM

Accepted Answer

If you're looking for something lightweight checkout schedule:

import schedule
import time

def job():
    print("I'm working...")


while 1:

Disclosure: I'm the author of that library.

4/23/2016 9:46:55 PM

You could just use normal Python argument passing syntax to specify your crontab. For example, suppose we define an Event class as below:

from datetime import datetime, timedelta
import time

# Some utility classes / functions first
class AllMatch(set):
    """Universal set - match everything"""
    def __contains__(self, item): return True

allMatch = AllMatch()

def conv_to_set(obj):  # Allow single integer to be provided
    if isinstance(obj, (int,long)):
        return set([obj])  # Single item
    if not isinstance(obj, set):
        obj = set(obj)
    return obj

# The actual Event class
class Event(object):
    def __init__(self, action, min=allMatch, hour=allMatch, 
                       day=allMatch, month=allMatch, dow=allMatch, 
                       args=(), kwargs={}):
        self.mins = conv_to_set(min)
        self.hours= conv_to_set(hour)
        self.days = conv_to_set(day)
        self.months = conv_to_set(month)
        self.dow = conv_to_set(dow)
        self.action = action
        self.args = args
        self.kwargs = kwargs

    def matchtime(self, t):
        """Return True if this event should trigger at the specified datetime"""
        return ((t.minute     in self.mins) and
                (t.hour       in self.hours) and
                (        in self.days) and
                (t.month      in self.months) and
                (t.weekday()  in self.dow))

    def check(self, t):
        if self.matchtime(t):
            self.action(*self.args, **self.kwargs)

(Note: Not thoroughly tested)

Then your CronTab can be specified in normal python syntax as:

c = CronTab(
  Event(perform_backup, 0, 2, dow=6 ),
  Event(purge_temps, 0, range(9,18,2), dow=range(0,5))

This way you get the full power of Python's argument mechanics (mixing positional and keyword args, and can use symbolic names for names of weeks and months)

The CronTab class would be defined as simply sleeping in minute increments, and calling check() on each event. (There are probably some subtleties with daylight savings time / timezones to be wary of though). Here's a quick implementation:

class CronTab(object):
    def __init__(self, *events): = events

    def run(self):
        while 1:
            for e in

            t += timedelta(minutes=1)
            while < t:
                time.sleep((t -

A few things to note: Python's weekdays / months are zero indexed (unlike cron), and that range excludes the last element, hence syntax like "1-5" becomes range(0,5) - ie [0,1,2,3,4]. If you prefer cron syntax, parsing it shouldn't be too difficult however.

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