Python plugins

Christian Tismer tismer at
Sun Sep 8 10:30:17 EDT 2002

Tobias Klausmann wrote:
> Hi there,
> For an open source project that needs to be extensible by its
> users, I would like to create a plugin architecture. Mind you,
> I'm not trying to use Python as a plugin language only like XChat
> or Gnumeric do. Let me illustrate:
> I have a directory somewhere in PYTHONPATH (let's just assume
> it's in the CWD) that contains lots and lots of *.py files with a
> defined set of functions (or, at least one: register()). What I'd
> like to do now is being able to load these plugins at program
> start and reload them if I'd like to later. Problem is that the
> program has to figure out by itself what *.py files are there -
> and I have to make sure somehow that I get a grip on the loaded
> files.

You can avoid exec at all.
The PIL package (Python Imaging Library) from Fredrik Lundh
has a similar problem:
There are lots of image drivers in a directory, and PIL
cannot know in advance what's there. Here an excerpt from, that shows what it does:

def init():
     "Load all file format drivers."

     global _initialized
     if _initialized >= 2:

     visited = {}

     directories = sys.path + [os.path.dirname(__file__)]

     # only check directories (including current, if present in the path)
     for directory in filter(isDirectory, directories):
         fullpath = os.path.abspath(directory)
         if visited.has_key(fullpath):
         for file in os.listdir(directory):
             if file[-14:] == "":
                 f, e = os.path.splitext(file)
                     sys.path.insert(0, directory)
                         __import__(f, globals(), locals(), [])
                         del sys.path[0]
                 except ImportError:
                     if DEBUG:
                         print "Image: failed to import",
                         print f, ":", sys.exc_value
         visited[fullpath] = None

     if OPEN or SAVE:
         _initialized = 2


> Now I can just "import pi" and execute pi.rel() which in turn
> loads all the modules that are there ('cept the ones that only
> exist as pyc or pyo, but that's okay). But now I have two
> problems: first, I have no idea how to call, say
> pi.someplugin.dostuff(args) except constructing each and every
> call as a string and exec() it - which is both error-prone and
> awkward IMHO.

If you executed a proper __import__, all modules and funcs should
be accessible in the normal way.
There is no need to exec.

> Second, reloading just does not seem to work right as Python is
> too smart ;) for me: it knows all of them have been loaded. So I
> added the reload code above but to no avail.

Reloading should work. If you have imported some module into
your current one, reload(module) should work as expected.
You will get into trouble if you imported the contents of
a module like "from mod import *", since these identifiers will
not get refreshed when you reload. You would need to repeat
the from... import after reloading, since it copies the
identifiers again to your namespace.

ciao - chris
Christian Tismer             :^)   <mailto:tismer at>
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