Fix Python – Sibling package imports


Asked By – zachwill

I’ve tried reading through questions about sibling imports and even the
package documentation, but I’ve yet to find an answer.

With the following structure:

├── api
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
├── examples
│   ├──
│   ├──
│   └──
└── tests
│   ├──
│   └──

How can the scripts in the examples and tests directories import from the
api module and be run from the commandline?

Also, I’d like to avoid the ugly sys.path.insert hack for every file. Surely
this can be done in Python, right?

Now we will see solution for issue: Sibling package imports


Seven years after

Since I wrote the answer below, modifying sys.path is still a quick-and-dirty trick that works well for private scripts, but there has been several improvements

  • Installing the package (in a virtualenv or not) will give you what you want, though I would suggest using pip to do it rather than using setuptools directly (and using setup.cfg to store the metadata)
  • Using the -m flag and running as a package works too (but will turn out a bit awkward if you want to convert your working directory into an installable package).
  • For the tests, specifically, pytest is able to find the api package in this situation and takes care of the sys.path hacks for you

So it really depends on what you want to do. In your case, though, since it seems that your goal is to make a proper package at some point, installing through pip -e is probably your best bet, even if it is not perfect yet.

Old answer

As already stated elsewhere, the awful truth is that you have to do ugly hacks to allow imports from siblings modules or parents package from a __main__ module. The issue is detailed in PEP 366. PEP 3122 attempted to handle imports in a more rational way but Guido has rejected it one the account of

The only use case seems to be running scripts that happen
to be living inside a module’s directory, which I’ve always seen as an


Though, I use this pattern on a regular basis with

# Ugly hack to allow absolute import from the root folder
# whatever its name is. Please forgive the heresy.
if __name__ == "__main__" and __package__ is None:
    from sys import path
    from os.path import dirname as dir

    __package__ = "examples"

import api

Here path[0] is your running script’s parent folder and dir(path[0]) your top level folder.

I have still not been able to use relative imports with this, though, but it does allow absolute imports from the top level (in your example api‘s parent folder).

This question is answered By – Evpok

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