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A tool for refurbish and modernize Python codebases

Project description


A tool for refurbishing and modernizing Python codebases.



for filename in ["file1.txt", "file2.txt"]:
    with open(filename) as f:
        contents =

    lines = contents.splitlines()

    for line in lines:
        if not line or line.startswith("# ") or line.startswith("// "):

        for word in line.split():
            print(f"[{word}]", end="")



$ refurb [FURB109]: Use `in (x, y, z)` instead of `in [x, y, z]` [FURB101]: Use `y = Path(x).read_text()` instead of `with open(x, ...) as f: y =` [FURB102]: Replace `x.startswith(y) or x.startswith(z)` with `x.startswith((y, z))` [FURB105]: Use `print() instead of `print("")`


$ pipx install refurb
$ refurb folder/

Note Refurb must be run on Python 3.10+, though it can check Python 3.7+ code by setting the --python-version flag.

Explanations For Checks

You can use refurb --explain FURB123, where FURB123 is the error code you are trying to look up. For example:

$ refurb --explain FURB123
Don't cast a variable or literal if it is already of that type. For


name = str("bob")
num = int(123)


name = "bob"
num = 123

An online list of all available checks can be viewed here.

Ignoring Errors

Use --ignore 123 to ignore error 123. The error code can be in the form FURB123 or 123. This flag can be repeated.

The FURB prefix indicates that this is a built-in error. The FURB prefix is optional, but for all other errors (ie, ABC123), the prefix is required.

You can also use inline comments to disable errors:

x = int(0)  # noqa: FURB123
y = list()  # noqa

Here, noqa: FURB123 specifically ignores the FURB123 error for that line, and noqa ignores all errors on that line.

You can also specify multiple errors to ignore by separating them with a comma/space:

x = not not int(0)  # noqa: FURB114, FURB123
x = not not int(0)  # noqa: FURB114 FURB123

Enabling/Disabling Checks

Certain checks are disabled by default, and need to be enabled first. You can do this using the --enable ERR flag, where ERR is the error code of the check you want to enable. A disabled check differs from an ignored check in that a disabled check will never be loaded, whereas an ignored check will be loaded, an error will be emitted, and the error will be suppressed.

Use the --verbose/-v flag to get a full list of enabled checks.

The opposite of --enable is --disable, which will disable a check. When --enable and --disable are both specified via the command line, whichever one comes last will take precedence. When using enable and disable via the config file, disable will always take precedence.

Use the --disable-all flag to disable all checks. This allows you to incrementally --enable checks as you see fit, as opposed to adding a bunch of --ignore flags. To use this in the config file, set disable_all to true.

Use the --enable-all flag to enable all checks by default. This allows you to opt into all checks that Refurb (and Refurb plugins) have to offer. This is a good option for new codebases. To use this in a config file, set enable_all to true.

In the config file, disable_all/enable_all is applied first, and then the enable and disable fields are applied afterwards.

Note that disable_all and enable_all are mutually exclusive, both on the command line and in the config file. You will get an error if you try to specify both.

You can also disable checks by category using the #category syntax. For example, --disable "#readability" will disable all checks with the readability category. The same applies for enable and ignore. Also, if you disable an entire category you can still explicitly re-enable a check in that category.

Note that #readability is wrapped in quotes because your shell will interpret the # as the start of a comment.

Setting Python Version

Use the --python-version flag to tell Refurb which version of Python your codebase is using. This should allow for better detection of language features, and allow for better error messages. The argument for this flag must be in the form x.y, for example, 3.10.

The syntax for using this in the config file is python_version = "3.10".

When the Python version is unspecified, Refurb uses whatever version your local Python installation uses. For example, if your python --version is 3.11.5, Refurb uses 3.11, dropping the 5 patch version.

Changing Output Formats

By default everything is outputted as plain text: [FURB123]: Replace `int(x)` with `x`

Here are all of the available formats:

To change the default format use --format XYZ on the command line, or format = "XYZ" in the config file.

Changing Sort Order

By default errors are sorted by filename, then by error code. To change this, use the --sort XYZ flag on the command line, or sort_by = "XYZ" in the config file, where XYZ is one of the following sort modes:

  • filename: Sort files in alphabetical order (the default)
  • error: Sort by error first, then by filename

Overriding Mypy Flags

This is typically used for development purposes, but can also be used to better fine-tune Mypy from within Refurb. Any command line arguments after -- are passed to Mypy. For example:

$ refurb files -- --show-traceback

This tells Mypy to show a traceback if it crashes.

You can also use this in the config file by assigning an array of values to the mypy_args field. Note that any Mypy arguments passed via the command line arguments will override the mypy_args field in the config file.

Configuring Refurb

In addition to the command line arguments, you can also add your settings in the pyproject.toml file. For example, the following command line arguments:

refurb --ignore 100 --load some_module --quiet

Corresponds to the following in your pyproject.toml file:

ignore = [100]
load = ["some_module"]
quiet = true

Now all you need to type is refurb!

Note that the values in the config file will be merged with the values specified via the command line. In the case of boolean arguments like --quiet, the command line arguments take precedence. All other arguments (such as ignore and load) will be combined.

You can use the --config-file flag to tell Refurb to use a different config file from the default pyproject.toml file. Note that it still must be in the same form as the normal pyproject.toml file.

Click here to see some example config files.

Ignore Checks Per File/Folder

If you have a large codebase you might want to ignore errors for certain files or folders, which allows you to incrementally fix errors as you see fit. To do that, add the following to your pyproject.toml file:

# these settings will be applied globally
enable_all = true

# these will only be applied to the "src" folder
path = "src"
ignore = ["FURB123", "FURB120"]

# these will only be applied to the "src/" file
path = "src/"
ignore = ["FURB125", "FURB148"]

Note that only the ignore field is available in the amend sections. This is because a check can only be enabled/disabled for the entire codebase, and cannot be selectively enabled/disabled on a per-file basis. Assuming a check is enabled though, you can simply ignore the errors for the files of your choosing.

Using Refurb With pre-commit

You can use Refurb with pre-commit by adding the following to your .pre-commit-config.yaml file:

  - repo:
    rev: REVISION
      - id: refurb

Replacing REVISION with a version or SHA of your choosing (or leave it blank to let pre-commit find the most recent one for you).


Installing plugins for Refurb is very easy:

$ pip install refurb-plugin-example

Where refurb-plugin-example is the name of the plugin. Refurb will automatically load any installed plugins.

To make your own Refurb plugin, see the refurb-plugin-example repository for more info.

Writing Your Own Check

If you want to extend Refurb but don't want to make a full-fledged plugin, you can easily create a one-off check file with the refurb gen command.

Note that this command uses the fzf fuzzy-finder for getting user input, so you will need to install fzf before continuing.

Here is the basic overview for creating a new check using the refurb gen command:

  1. First select the node type you want to accept
  2. Then type in where you want to save the auto generated file
  3. Add your code to the new file

To get an idea of what you need to add to your check, use the --debug flag to see the AST representation for a given file (ie, refurb --debug Take a look at the files in the refurb/checks/ folder for some examples.

Then, to load your new check, use refurb --load

Note that when using --load, you need to use dots in your argument, just like importing a normal python module. If is a directory, all checks in that directory will be loaded. If it is a file, only that file will be loaded.


If Refurb is running slow, use the --timing-stats flag to diagnose why:

$ refurb file --timing-stats /tmp/stats.json

This will output a JSON file with the following information:

  • Total time Mypy took to parse the modules (a majority of the time usually).
  • Time Mypy spent parsing each module. Useful for finding very large/unused files.
  • Time Refurb spent checking each module. These numbers should be very small (less than 100ms).

Larger files naturally take longer to check, but files that take way too long should be looked into, as an issue might only manifest themselves when a file reaches a certain size.

Disable Color

Color output is enabled by default in Refurb. To disable it, do one of the following:

  • Set the NO_COLOR env var.

  • Use the --no-color flag.

  • Set color = false in the config file.

  • Pipe/redirect Refurb output to another program or file.

Developing / Contributing


To setup locally run:

$ git clone
$ cd refurb
$ make install

Tests can be ran all at once using make, or you can run each tool on its own using make black, make flake8, and so on.

Unit tests can be ran with pytest or make test.

Since the end-to-end (e2e) tests are slow, they are not ran when running make. You will need to run make test-e2e to run them.

Updating Documentation

We encourage people to update the documentation when they see typos and other issues!

With that in mind though, don't directly modify the docs/ file. It is auto-generated and will be overridden when new checks are added. The documentation for checks can be updated by changing the docstrings of in the checks themselves. For example, to update FURB100, change the docstring of the ErrorInfo class in the refurb/checks/pathlib/ file. You can find the file for a given check by grep-ing for code = XYZ, where XYZ is the check you are looking for but with the FURB prefix removed.

Use the --verbose flag with --explain to find the filename for a given check. For example:

$ refurb --explain FURB123 --verbose
Filename: refurb/checks/readability/

FURB123: no-redundant-cast [readability]


Why Does This Exist?

I love doing code reviews: I like taking something and making it better, faster, more elegant, and so on. Lots of static analysis tools already exist, but none of them seem to be focused on making code more elegant, more readable, or more modern. That is where Refurb comes in.

Refurb is heavily inspired by clippy, the built-in linter for Rust.

What Refurb Is Not

Refurb is not a style/type checker. It is not meant as a first-line of defense for linting and finding bugs, it is meant for making good code even better.

Comparison To Other Tools

There are already lots of tools out there for linting and analyzing Python code, so you might be wondering why Refurb exists (skepticism is good!). As mentioned above, Refurb checks for code which can be made more elegant, something that no other linters (that I have found) specialize in. Here is a list of similar linters and analyzers, and how they differ from Refurb:

Black: is more focused on the formatting and styling of the code (line length, trailing comas, indentation, and so on). It does a really good job of making other projects using Black look more or less the same. It doesn't do more complex things such as type checking or code smell/anti-pattern detection.

flake8: flake8 is also a linter, is very extensible, and performs a lot of semantic analysis-related checks as well, such as "unused variable", "break outside of a loop", and so on. It also checks PEP8 conformance. Refurb won't try and replace flake8, because chances are you are already using flake8 anyways.

Pylint has a lot of checks which cover a lot of ground, but in general, are focused on bad or buggy code, things which you probably didn't mean to do. Refurb assumes that you know what you are doing, and will try to cleanup what is already there the best it can.

Mypy, Pyright, Pyre, and Pytype are all type checkers, and basically just enforce types, ensures arguments match, functions are called in a type safe manner, and so on. They do much more then that, but that is the general idea. Refurb actually is built on top of Mypy, and uses its AST parser so that it gets good type information.

pyupgrade: Pyupgrade has a lot of good checks for upgrading your older Python code to the newer syntax, which is really useful. Where Refurb differs is that Pyupgrade is more focused on upgrading your code to the newer version, whereas Refurb is more focused on cleaning up and simplifying what is already there.

In conclusion, Refurb doesn't want you to throw out your old tools, since they cover different areas of your code, and all serve a different purpose. Refurb is meant to be used in conjunction with the above tools.

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