colorful TAB completion for Python prompt
fancycompleter: colorful Python TAB completion
What is is?
fancycompleter is a module to improve your experience in Python by
adding TAB completion to the interactive prompt. It is an extension of
Its best feature is that the completions are displayed in different colors, depending on their type:
In the image above, strings are shown in green, functions in blue,
integers and boolean in yellows,
None in gray, types and classes in
fuchsia. Everything else is plain white.
fancycompleter is compatible with Python 3. However, by default colors
don't work on Python 3, see the section How do I get
colors? for details.
- To save space on screen,
fancycompleteronly shows the characters "after the dot". By contrast, in the example above
rlcompletershows everything prepended by
- If we press
<TAB>at the beginning of the line, a real tab character is inserted, instead of trying to complete. This is useful when typing function bodies or multi-line statements at the prompt.
fancycompleterdoes complete expressions containing dictionary or list indexing. For example,
mydict['foo'].<TAB>works (assuming that
mydictis a dictionary and that it contains the key
'foo', of course :-)).
- Starting from Python 2.6, if the completed name is a callable,
rlcompleterautomatically adds an open parenthesis
(. This is annoying in case we do not want to really call it, so
fancycompleterdisable this behaviour.
First, install the module with
$ pip install fancycompleter
Then, at the Python interactive prompt:
>>> import fancycompleter >>> fancycompleter.interact(persist_history=True) >>>
If you want to enable
fancycompleter automatically at startup, you can
add those two lines at the end of your
If you do not have a
PYTHONSTARTUP script, the
following command will create one for you in
$ python -m fancycompleter install
install automatically sets the
variable. On other systems, you need to add the proper command in
~/.bashrc or equivalent.
Note: depending on your particular system,
interact might need to
play dirty tricks in order to display colors, although everything should
"just work". In particular, the call to
interact should be the last
line in the startup file, else the next lines might not be executed. See
section What is really going on? for
How do I get colors?
If you are using PyPy, you can stop reading now, as
will work out of the box.
If you are using CPython on Linux/OSX and you installed
easy_install, they automatically
pyrepl as a requirement, and you should also get colors out
of the box. If for some reason you don't want to use
should keep on reading.
By default, in CPython line input and TAB completion are handled by GNU
readline (at least
on Linux). However,
readline explicitly strips escape sequences from
the completions, so completions with colors are not displayed correctly.
There are two ways to solve it:
- (suggested) don't use
readlineat all and rely on pyrepl
- use a patched version of
readlineto allow colors
fancycompleter tries to use
pyrepl if it finds it. To
get colors you need a recent version, >= 0.8.2.
Starting from version 0.6.1,
fancycompleter works also on Windows,
relying on pyreadline. At the
moment of writing, the latest version of
pyreadline is 2.1, which does
not support colored completions; here is the pull
request which adds
support for them. To enable colors, you can install
this fork using the following
pip install --upgrade https://github.com/antocuni/pyreadline/tarball/master
If you are using Python 3,
pyrepl does not work, and thus is not
installed. Your only option to get colors is to use a patched
readline, as explained below.
I really want to use readline
This method is not really recommended, but if you really want, you can
use use a patched readline: you can find the patches in the
You can also try one of the following precompiled versions, which has
been tested on Ubuntu 10.10: remember to put them in a place where the
linker can find them, e.g. by setting
Once it is installed, you should double-check that you can find it, e.g.
ldd on Python's
$ ldd /usr/lib/python2.6/lib-dynload/readline.so | grep readline libreadline.so.6 => /home/antocuni/local/32/lib/libreadline.so.6 (0x00ee7000)
Finally, you need to force
fancycompleter to use colors, since by
default, it uses colors only with
pyrepl: you can do it by placing a
custom config file in
~/.fancycompleterrc.py. An example config file
(remind that you need to put a dot in front of the filename!).
To customize the configuration of fancycompleter, you need to put a file
.fancycompleterrc.py in your home directory. The file must
contain a class named
Config inheriting from
overridding the desired values.
What is really going on?
The default and preferred way to get colors is to use
there is no way to tell CPython to use
pyrepl instead of the built-in
readline at the interactive prompt: this means that even if we install
our completer inside pyrepl's readline library, the interactive prompt
won't see it.
The issue is simply solved by avoiding to use the built-in prompt: instead, we use a pure Python replacement based on code.InteractiveConsole. This brings us also some niceties, such as the ability to do multi-line editing of the history.
The console is automatically run by
sys.exit(): this way, if we execute it from the script in
PYTHONSTARTUP, the interpreter exits as soon as we finish the use the
prompt (e.g. by pressing CTRL-D, or by calling
quit()). This way, we
avoid to enter the built-in prompt and we get a behaviour which closely
resembles the default one. This is why in this configuration lines after
fancycompleter.interact() might not be run.
Note that if we are using
readline instead of
pyrepl, the trick is
not needed and thus
interact() will simply returns, letting the
built-in prompt to show up. The same is true if we are running PyPy, as
its built-in prompt is based on pyrepl anyway.
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