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Utility library for gitignore style pattern matching of file paths.

Project Description

pathspec: Path Specification

pathspec is a utility library for pattern matching of file paths. So far this only includes Git’s wildmatch pattern matching which itself is derived from Rsync’s wildmatch. Git uses wildmatch for its gitignore files.


Say you have a “Projects” directory and you want to back it up, but only certain files, and ignore others depending on certain conditions:

>>> import pathspec
>>> # The gitignore-style patterns for files to select, but we're including
>>> # instead of ignoring.
>>> spec = """
... # This is a comment because the line begins with a hash: "#"
... # Include several project directories (and all descendants) relative to
... # the current directory. To reference a directory you must end with a
... # slash: "/"
... /project-a/
... /project-b/
... /project-c/
... # Patterns can be negated by prefixing with exclamation mark: "!"
... # Ignore temporary files beginning or ending with "~" and ending with
... # ".swp".
... !~*
... !*~
... !*.swp
... # These are python projects so ignore compiled python files from
... # testing.
... !*.pyc
... # Ignore the build directories but only directly under the project
... # directories.
... !/*/build/q
... """

We want to use the GitWildMatchPattern class to compile our patterns. The PathSpec class provides an interface around pattern implementations:

>>> spec = pathspec.PathSpec.from_lines(pathspec.patterns.GitWildMatchPattern, spec.splitlines())

That may be a mouthful but it allows for additional patterns to be implemented in the future without them having to deal with anything but matching the paths sent to them. GitWildMatchPattern is the implementation of the actual pattern which internally gets converted into a regular expression. PathSpec is a simple wrapper around a list of compiled patterns.

To make things simpler, we can use the registered name for a pattern class instead of always having to provide a reference to the class itself. The GitWildMatchPattern class is registered as gitwildmatch:

>>> spec = pathspec.PathSpec.from_lines('gitwildmatch', spec.splitlines())

If we wanted to manually compile the patterns we can just do the following:

>>> patterns = map(pathspec.patterns.GitWildMatchPattern, spec.splitlines())
>>> spec = PathSpec(patterns)

PathSpec.from_lines() is simply a class method which does just that.

If you want to load the patterns from file, you can pass the file instance directly as well:

>>> with open('patterns.list', 'r') as fh:
>>>     spec = pathspec.PathSpec.from_lines('gitignore', fh)

You can perform matching on a whole directory tree with:

>>> matches = spec.match_tree('path/to/directory')

Or you can perform matching on a specific set of file paths with:

>>> matches = spec.match_files(file_paths)

Or check to see if an individual file matches:

>>> is_matched = spec.match_file(file_path)


pathspec is licensed under the Mozilla Public License Version 2.0. See LICENSE or the FAQ for more information.

In summary, you may use pathspec with any closed or open source project without affecting the license of the larger work so long as you:

  • give credit where credit is due,
  • and release any custom changes made to pathspec.


The source code for pathspec is available from the GitHub repo cpburnz/python-path-specification.


pathspec requires the following packages:

pathspec can be installed from source with:

python install

pathspec is also available for install through PyPI:

pip install pathspec

Change History

0.5.3 (2017-07-01)

  • Include “LICENSE” in source package.
  • Issue #14: Fix byte strings for Python 3.
  • Issue #16: Support Python 2.6.

0.5.2 (2017-04-04)

  • Fixed change log.

0.5.1 (2017-04-04)

  • Issue #13: Add equality methods to PathSpec and RegexPattern.

0.5.0 (2016-08-22)

  • Issue #12: Add PathSpec.match_file().
  • Renamed gitignore.GitIgnorePattern to patterns.gitwildmatch.GitWildMatchPattern.
  • Deprecated gitignore.GitIgnorePattern.

0.4.0 (2016-07-15)

  • Issue #11: Support converting patterns into regular expressions without compiling them.
  • API change: Subclasses of RegexPattern should implement pattern_to_regex().

0.3.4 (2015-08-24)

  • Issue #7: Fixed non-recursive links.
  • Issue #8: Fixed edge cases in gitignore patterns.
  • Issue #9: Fixed minor usage documentation.
  • Fixed recursion detection.
  • Fixed trivial incompatibility with Python 3.2.

0.3.3 (2014-11-21)

  • Improved documentation.

0.3.2 (2014-11-08)

  • Improved documentation.
  • Issue #6: Fixed matching Windows paths.
  • API change: spec.match_tree() and spec.match_files() now return iterators instead of sets.

0.3.1 (2014-09-17)

  • Updated README.

0.3.0 (2014-09-17)

  • Added registered patterns.
  • Issue #3: Fixed trailing slash in gitignore patterns.
  • Issue #4: Fixed test for trailing slash in gitignore patterns.

0.2.2 (2013-12-17)

  • Fixed

0.2.1 (2013-12-17)

  • Added tests.
  • Fixed comment gitignore patterns.
  • Fixed relative path gitignore patterns.

0.2.0 (2013-12-07)

  • Initial release.
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