Unit 1 - Python Modules: creating and importing

 CBSE Revision Notes

Class-11 Informatics Practices (New Syllabus)
Unit 1: Programming and Computational Thinking (PCT-1)

Python Modules: creating and importing

What are modules in Python?

Modules refer to a file containing Python statements and definitions.

A file containing Python code, for e.g.: example.py, is called a module and its module name would be example.

We use modules to break down large programs into small manageable and organized files. Furthermore, modules provide reusability of code.

We can define our most used functions in a module and import it, instead of copying their definitions into different programs.

How to Create modules in Python?

Let us create a module. Type the following and save it as example.py.

# Python Module example
def add(a, b):
"""This program adds two
numbers and return the result"""

result = a + b
return result

Here, we have defined a function add() inside a module named example. The function takes in two numbers and returns their sum.

How to import modules in Python?

We can import the definitions inside a module to another module or the interactive interpreter in Python.

We use the import keyword to do this. To import our previously defined module example we type the following in the Python prompt.

>>> import example

This does not enter the names of the functions defined in example directly in the current symbol table. It only enters the module name example there.

Using the module name we can access the function using dot (.) operation. For example:

>>> example.add(4,5.5)

Python has a ton of standard modules available.

You can check out the full list of Python standard modules and what they are for. These files are in the Lib directory inside the location where you installed Python.

Standard modules can be imported the same way as we import our user-defined modules.

There are various ways to import modules. They are listed as follows.

The import Statement

You can use any Python source file as a module by executing an import statement in some other Python source file. The import has the following syntax −

import module1[, module2[,... moduleN]

When the interpreter encounters an import statement, it imports the module if the module is present in the search path. A search path is a list of directories that the interpreter searches before importing a module. For example, to import the module support.py, you need to put the following command at the top of the script −

# Import module support
import support
# Now you can call defined function that module as follows

When the above code is executed, it produces the following result −

Hello : Zara

A module is loaded only once, regardless of the number of times it is imported. This prevents the module execution from happening over and over again if multiple imports occur.

The from...import Statement

Python's from statement lets you import specific attributes from a module into the current namespace. The from...import has the following syntax −

from modname import name1[, name2[, ... nameN]]

For example, to import the function fibonacci from the module fib, use the following statement −

from fib import fibonacci

This statement does not import the entire module fib into the current namespace; it just introduces the item fibonacci from the module fib into the global symbol table of the importing module.

The from...import * Statement

It is also possible to import all names from a module into the current namespace by using the following import statement −

from modname import *

This provides an easy way to import all the items from a module into the current namespace; however, this statement should be used sparingly.

Locating Modules

When you import a module, the Python interpreter searches for the module in the following sequences −

  • The current directory.

  • If the module isn't found, Python then searches each directory in the shell variable PYTHONPATH.

  • If all else fails, Python checks the default path. On UNIX, this default path is normally /usr/local/lib/python/.

The module search path is stored in the system module sys as the sys.pathvariable. The sys.path variable contains the current directory, PYTHONPATH, and the installation-dependent default.


The PYTHONPATH is an environment variable, consisting of a list of directories. The syntax of PYTHONPATH is the same as that of the shell variable PATH.

Here is a typical PYTHONPATH from a Windows system −

set PYTHONPATH = c:\python20\lib;

And here is a typical PYTHONPATH from a UNIX system −

set PYTHONPATH = /usr/local/lib/python