11.1. What are Modules?¶
In the last chapter, we learned that functions allow us to reuse the same block of code many times throughout a program. Once we create a useful function, we might find a use for it in other programs as well. We could easily copy and paste that function into new projects, but this leads to a couple of problems:
- Copy/pasting code does NOT keep our work DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself),
- If we make an update to the function, we need to apply that update to ALL copies of the function. If the function is super-useful, we probably put it into lots of projects. Tracking down and changing every single one would take lots of time, and we would likely miss a few.
Fortunately, we have a way to share functions and other useful tools across different programs WITHOUT copy/paste.
A module is a file containing Python values, functions, etc. that can be used in other Python programs. Instead of pasting a new copy of a function into every new project, we store the original in a file and then import that file when we need it. Changing the code in the module affects all of the programs that imported it. This makes applying updates much more efficient.
Modules are NOT designed to run on their own. Their purpose is to support many different programs by storing the code for commonly used functions, values, tools, and tasks.
11.1.1. Why Use Modules?¶
There are many modules that come with Python as part of the standard library. These offer us lots of ready-made tools that we can use to speed up the time it takes us to build our own projects.
We can also create our own modules to store data, functions, and tools that we have built on our own and want to use again later.
Even better, we can SHARE our modules with other programmers, or combine someone else’s work (with permission) to our own. Instead of writing every single part of a new project from scratch, another coder might have already written some of the code we need. If that person makes their work available, we can immediately import their modules into our own project—saving us time and effort.
Modules keep us from reinventing the wheel.
We do not need to worry about HOW a module works. We just need to be able to pull it into a project and use its functions.
Finally, modules allow us to keep different parts of our program in separate, smaller pieces. We code these smaller chunks and then connect the modules together to create the big project. Just like keeping functions small and simple helps with debugging, splitting up a large project into smaller pieces makes it easier to fix. We can also add more modules to the project to quickly give the whole program new abilities.
11.1.2. A List of Python Modules¶
Python comes with LOTS of modules, and we have already used one of these quite
turtle module. Once we import the module, we gain access to
everything it contains.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
import turtle # Allows us to use the turtle module bob = turtle.Turtle() # Create a turtle named bob bob.forward(150) # Move bob forward 150 pixels bob.left(90) # Turn bob left by 90 degrees bob.circle(75) # Draw a circle with a radius of 75 pixels
In this example, we use several tools defined in the module—
What if no one told us about
turtle? How would we know it exists? How
would we know what it can do for us?
The Global Module Index gives an alphabetical listing of all the modules that are available as part of the standard library.
Clicking on the
turtle option opens a page that describes all of the
tools the module contains.
For now, do not worry about wading through all of the possible modules. In this book, we point out the most useful ones for beginning Python coders.
As your skills grow, you can explore other options on your own.
11.1.3. Check Your Understanding¶
In Python a module is:
- A file containing Python code for use in other Python programs.
- A separate block of code within a program.
- One line of code in a program.
- A file that contains information about functions in Python.