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14.2 Reloading All Loaded Modules

Credit: Sébastien Keim

14.2.1 Problem

When you repeatedly run a test script during an interactive session, it always uses the first version of the modules you are developing, even if you made changes to the code. You need to ensure that modules are reloaded.

14.2.2 Solution

There are a few ways to accomplish this goal. Here's a solution that is simple and drastic, but it may not work with integrated development environments (IDEs):

import sys
sys.modules.clear(  )

And here is a solution that is a bit more careful and is compatible with IDEs:

import sys
if globals(  ).has_key('init_modules'):
    # second or subsequent run: remove all but initially loaded modules
    for m in sys.modules.keys(  ):
        if x not in init_modules:
    # first run: find out which modules were initially loaded
    init_modules = sys.modules.keys(  )

14.2.3 Discussion

When you create a Python module, you can use a test script that imports your module. But you have probably noticed that when you repeatedly run the test script inside a given interactive session, it always uses the first version of your module, even if you made changes in the code. This is because the import statement checks if the module is already in memory and does the actual importing only if this is the first time the module is used. This is an important optimization that lets you use the import statement freely, but it does get in the way in such development situations.

You can use the reload function, but this is difficult if you perform changes in a module that isn't directly imported by your test script. One simple solution is to remove all modules from memory before running the test script. For this, two lines at the start of your test script, as shown in the first solution, suffice.

If you work with a framework that executes user code in the same interpreter as the IDE itself (such as IDLE), however, you will notice that this technique fails. This is because sys.modules.clear removes IDLE from memory, so you will have to use the second solution in that case. On the first run, the solution determines which modules are initial modules for the system (all those that are loaded at this point). On all other runs, the solution cleans up all modules whose names are not in this initial list. This, of course, relies on globals (i.e., the dictionary of this test script, seen as a module) being unchanged when this test script is run again.

14.2.4 See Also

Documentation on the sys standard library module, along with the reload and globals built-ins, in the Library Reference; the section on the import statement in the Language Reference.

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