Those that have worked with my directly know I’m a tad obsessive when it comes to imports in Python. Once upon a time I had to write some pretty disgusting import hooks to solve a problem and got to learn first-hand how gnarly Python’s import subsystem can be. I have a couple coding conventions that I follow when I’m writing Python for my own personal projects that typically follows:

  • “strict” system imports first (i.e. import time)
  • “from” system imports second (i.e. from eventlet import api)
  • “local” imports (import mymodule)
  • local “from” imports (from mypackage import module)

In all of these sections, I like to list things alphabetically as well, just to make sure that at no point are modules ever doubley-imported. This results in code that looks clean (in my humblest of opinions): #!/usr/bin/env python import os import sys from eventlet import api

import app.util
from app.models import account

## Etc.</code>

A module importing habit that absolutely drives me up the wall, I was introduced to and told “don’t-do-that” by Dave: importing symbols from modules; in effect: from MySQLdb import IntegrityError. I have two major reasons for hating the importing of symbols, the first one is that it messes with your module’s namespace. If the symbol import above were in a file called “”, the foo module would then have the member foo.IntegrityError. Additionally, it makes the code more difficult to understand when you flatten the module’s namespace out; 500 lines down in the file if you see acct_m = AccountManager() as a developer new to the file you’ll have to go up to the top and figure out where the hell AccountManager is actually coming from to understand how it works.

As code with these sort of symbol-level imports ages, it becomes more and more frustrating to deal with, if I need OperationalError in my module now I have three options:

  • Update the line to say: from MySQLdb import IntegrityError, OperationalError
  • Add import MySQLdb and just refer to IntegrityError and MySQLdb.OperationalError
  • Add import MySQLdb and update all references to IntegrityError

I’ve seen code in open source projects that have abused the symbol imports so badly that an import statement look like: from mod import CONST1, CONST2, CONST3, SomeError, AnotherClass (ad infinium).

I think poor import style is a good indicator of how one can expect the rest of the Python code to look, I cannot recall a single instance where I’ve looked at a Python module with gross import statements and clean classes and functions. from MySQLdb import IntegrityError, OperationalError, MySQLError, ProgrammingError, \ NotSupportedError, InternalError