Chapter 7. Modules

A typical Python program is made up of several source files. Each source file corresponds to a module, which packages program code and data for reuse. Modules are normally independent of each other so that other programs can reuse the specific modules they need. A module explicitly establishes dependencies upon another module by using import or from statements. In some other programming languages, global variables can provide a hidden conduit for coupling between modules. In Python, however, global variables are not global to all modules, but instead such variables are attributes of a single module object. Thus, Python modules communicate in explicit and maintainable ways.

Python also supports extensions, which are components written in other languages, such as C, C++, or Java, for use with Python. Extensions are seen as modules by the Python code that uses them (called client code). From the client code viewpoint, it does not matter whether a module is 100% pure Python or an extension. You can always start by coding a module in Python. Later, if you need better performance, you can recode some modules in a lower-level language without changing the client code that uses the modules. Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 discuss writing extensions in C and Java.

This chapter discusses module creation and loading. It also covers grouping modules into packages, which are modules that contain other modules, forming a hierarchical, tree-like structure. Finally, the chapter discusses using Python's distribution utilities (distutils) to prepare packages and modules for distribution and to install distributed packages and modules.

    Part III: Python Library and Extension Modules