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An implementation of Apache Ant FileSet and Globs

Project description

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Formic is forked from The original project only supports python2.7 and has not been maintained for a long time.

I added Python3 supports and fixed some issues. Formic now can work on any Python 2.6+ or Python 3.4+ system. If not, please file an issue. Yet not tested on other Python version.

Formic has no runtime dependencies outside the Python system libraries.


Formic can be installed from the Cheeseshop with easy_install:

$ easy_install formic2

Or pip:

$ pip install formic2


Once installed, you can use Formic either from the command line to find from the current directory:

$ formic -i "*.py" -e "" "**/*test*/" "test_*"

This will search for files all Python files under the current directory excluding all files, any file in directories whose name contains the word ‘test’, and any files that start test_.

You can also find from the specified directory like below:

$ formic /specified/directory/can/ignore/ -i "*.py" "**/test/**/*.txt" "*.ini"

Output from Formic is formatted like the Unix find command, and so can easily be combined with other executables, eg:

$ formic -i "**/*.bak" | xargs rm

will delete all .bak files in or under the current directory (but excluding VCS directories such as .svn and .hg).

Formic can also be integrated right into your Python project:

import formic
fileset = formic.FileSet(include="**.py",
                         exclude=["**/*test*/**", "test_*"],
                         symlinks=False, )

for file_name in fileset:
    # Do something with file_name

Formic is always case-insensitive on NT, but can be either case-sensitive or case-insensitive on POSIX.

On NT:

$ formic ./test/ -i "upp*" "upp*/"

On POSIX with case-insensitive:

$ formic ./test/ --insensitive -i "upp*" "upp*/"

with case-sensitive:

$ formic ./test/ -i "upp*" "upp*/"

That’s about it :)


Formic is a Python implementation of Apache Ant FileSet and Globs including the directory wildcard **.

FileSet provides a terse way of specifying a set of files without having to enumerate individual files. It:

  1. Includes files from one or more Ant Globs, then
  2. Optionally excludes files matching further Ant Globs.

Ant Globs are a superset of ordinary file system globs. The key differences:

  • They match whole paths, eg /root/myapp/*.py
  • ** matches any directory or directories, eg /root/**/*.py matches /root/one/two/
  • You can match the topmost directory or directories, eg /root/**, or
  • The parent directory of the file, eg **/parent/*.py, or
  • Any parent directory, eg **/test/**/*.py

This approach is the de-facto standard in several other languages and tools, including Apache Ant and Maven, Ruby (Dir) and Perforce (…).

Python has built-in support for simple globs in fnmatcher and glob, but Formic:

  • Can recursively scan subdirectories
  • Matches arbitrary directories in the path (eg /1/**/2/**/3/**/*.py).
  • Has a high level interface:
    • Specify one or more globs to find files
    • Globs can be used to exclude files
    • Ant, and Formic, has a set of default excludes. These are files and directories that, by default, are automatically excluded from all searches. The majority of these are files and directories related to VCS (eg .svn directories). Formic adds __pycache__.
    • Iterate through all matches in the sub-tree
  • Is more efficient with many common patterns; it runs relatively faster on large directory trees with large numbers of files.


Formic is originally written and maintained by Andrew Alcock of Aviser LLP, Singapore.

But now, I forked it on GitHub and will maintain this project voluntarily for a long time.

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