What is the difference between `import module` and `from module import` in Python?
When incorporating functionalities from external modules into a Python script, there are various ways to perform imports. The two statements, `import module` and `from module import *`, are among the most commonly used, but they operate quite differently and have distinct implications:
- `import module`:
– Behavior: Using `import module` brings the entire module into your script. However, to access a particular function or class within that module, you’d need to prefix it with the module’s name.
– Advantage: This method provides clear context in the code about where a particular function or class originates, making the code more readable. It’s easier to discern that a certain function or class belongs to a specific module.
– Example: If the module named `tools` contains a function named `hammer()`, you would call it as `tools.hammer()` after importing the module.
- `from module import:
– Behavior: This statement imports all public functions, classes, and variables defined in the module directly into the script’s namespace. This means you can use them without prefixing them with the module’s name.
– Advantage: It provides a shortcut to access all functionalities without the need for prefixes.
– Drawback: This method can lead to confusion, especially in larger scripts or when multiple modules are imported this way. There’s a risk of name clashes, where functions or variables from the module may overwrite existing names in your script or vice versa. Furthermore, it makes the code less readable since it’s harder to identify the origin of a function or a class.
– Note: Many Python developers recommend against using `from module import ` because of these drawbacks. It’s often better to be explicit about what you’re importing.
- Middle Ground:
A balanced approach is to use `from module import specific_function_or_class`. This allows you to import only what you need, and you can use it directly without the module prefix, mitigating potential namespace issues and keeping the code clear.
While both `import module` and `from module import *` offer ways to access external functionalities in a script, they differ in how they introduce names into the namespace. The choice between them should consider code clarity, potential name clashes, and the specific needs of the project.