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Clean single-source support for Python 3 and 2

Project description

future: clean single-source support for Python 3 and 2

The future module helps run Python 3.x-compatible code under Python 2 with minimal code cruft.

The goal is to allow you to write clean, modern, forward-compatible Python 3 code today and to run it with minimal effort under Python 2 alongside a Python 2 stack that may contain dependencies that have not yet been ported to Python 3.

It is designed to be used as follows:

from __future__ import (absolute_import, division,
                        print_function, unicode_literals)
from future import standard_library
from future.builtins import *

followed by clean Python 3 code (with a few restrictions) that can run unchanged on Python 2.7.

After the imports, this code runs identically on Python 3 and 2:

# Support for renamed standard library modules via import hooks
from http.client import HttpConnection
from itertools import filterfalse
from test import support

# Backported Py3-like bytes object
b = bytes(b'ABCD')
assert list(b) == [65, 66, 67, 68]
assert repr(b) == "b'ABCD'"
# These raise TypeErrors:
# b + u'EFGH'
# bytes(b',').join([u'Fred', u'Bill'])

# New iterable range object with slicing support
for i in range(10**15)[:10]:

# Other iterators: map, zip, filter
my_iter = zip(range(3), ['a', 'b', 'c'])
assert my_iter != list(my_iter)

# New simpler super() function:
class VerboseList(list):
    def append(self, item):
        print('Adding an item')

# These raise NameErrors:
# apply(), cmp(), coerce(), reduce(), xrange(), etc.

# This identity is restored. This is normally valid on Py3 and Py2,
# but 'from __future__ import unicode_literals' breaks it on Py2:
assert isinstance('happy', str)

# The round() function behaves as it does in Python 3, using
# "Banker's Rounding" to the nearest even last digit:
assert round(0.1250, 2) == 0.12

# input() replaces Py2's raw_input() (with no eval()):
name = input('What is your name? ')
print('Hello ' + name)

On Python 3, the import lines have zero effect (and zero namespace pollution).

On Python 2, from future import standard_library installs import hooks to allow renamed and moved standard library modules to be imported from their new Py3 locations.

On Python 2, the from future.builtins import * line shadows builtins to provide their Python 3 semantics. (See below for the explicit import form.)

Standard library reorganization

future supports the standard library reorganization (PEP 3108) via import hooks, allowing almost all moved standard library modules to be accessed under their Python 3 names and locations in Python 2:

from future import standard_library

import socketserver
import queue
import configparser
from collections import UserList
from itertools import filterfalse, zip_longest
# and other moved modules and definitions

It also includes backports for these stdlib packages from Py3 that were heavily refactored versus Py2:

import html, html.entities, html.parser
import http, http.client

These currently are not supported, but we may support them in the future:

import http.server, http.cookies, http.cookiejar
import urllib, urllib.parse, urllib.request, urllib.error


future also provides some useful functions and decorators to ease backward compatibility with Py2 in the future.utils module. These are a selection of the most useful functions from six and various home-grown Py2/3 compatibility modules from various Python projects, such as Jinja2, Pandas, IPython, and Django.


# Functions like print() expect __str__ on Py2 to return a byte
string. This decorator maps the __str__ to __unicode__ on Py2 and
defines __str__ to encode it as utf-8:

from future.utils import python_2_unicode_compatible

class MyClass(object):
    def __str__(self):
        return u'Unicode string: \u5b54\u5b50'
a = MyClass()

# This then prints the Chinese characters for Confucius:

# Iterators on Py3 require a __next__() method, whereas on Py2 this
# is called next(). This decorator allows Py3-style iterators to work
# identically on Py2:

class Upper(object):
    def __init__(self, iterable):
        self._iter = iter(iterable)
    def __next__(self):                 # note the Py3 interface
        return next(self._iter).upper()
    def __iter__(self):
        return self

# prints ['H', 'E', 'L', 'L', 'O']

On Python 3 these decorators are no-ops.

Explicit imports

If you prefer explicit imports, the explicit equivalent of the from future.builtins import * line above is:

from future.builtins.iterators import zip, map, filter
from future.builtins.misc import ascii, oct, hex, chr, input
from future.builtins.backports import bytes, range, super, round
from future.builtins.disabled import (apply, cmp, coerce,
        execfile, file, long, raw_input, reduce, reload, unicode,
        xrange, StandardError)
from future.builtins.str_is_unicode import str

But please note that the API is still evolving rapidly.

See the docstrings for each of these modules for more info:

- future.standard_library
- future.builtins
- future.utils

Automatic conversion

An experimental script called futurize is included to aid in making either Python 2 code or Python 3 code compatible with both platforms using the future module. See



Ed Schofield


Python Charmers Pty Ltd, Australia, and Python Charmers Pte Ltd, Singapore.

  • future incorporates the six module by Benjamin Peterson.
  • The futurize script uses lib2to3, lib3to2, and parts of Armin Ronacher’s python-modernize code.
  • The backported super() and range() functions are derived from Ryan Kelly’s magicsuper module and Dan Crosta’s xrange module.
  • The python_2_unicode_compatible decorator is from django.utils.encoding.


Copyright 2013 Python Charmers Pty Ltd, Australia. The software is distributed under an MIT licence. See LICENSE.txt.

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