Tools for Python programming

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To help with finding broken code, unused variables and other problems, there are several tools available. Described tools are free and open source and usually widely available in GNU/Linux distribution repositories or through pip. They can be connected to some code editor or run separately from command line. Some editors integrate some of these tools. Generally, all tools need to be run from a GRASS session.

pep8 for checking of style

Checks the basic correctness and style of Python code according to PEP 8 -- Style Guide for Python Code.

pep8 lmgr/

Pylint static checker

Main article: Pylint rc file for GRASS

Pylint is a tool for static source code analysis. It provides wide range of analysis and is highly customizable. It is integrated to some Python editors.

cProfile profiling tool

cProfile is a Python profiling tool. It can be used directly in your Python source code or from the command line. The output can be processed by the gprof2dot tool which generates call graph in dot (depends on Graphviz is necessary to render the graph).

For Ubuntu, Graphviz and cProfile are available in repository (graphviz and python-profiler packages). gprof2dot tool needs to be installed through pip (sudo pip install gprof2dot).

# does the actual profiling
python -m cProfile -o output.pstats --various-my-script-parameters foo bar

# creates a callgraph with profiling info (filtered)
gprof2dot -f pstats output.pstats | dot -Tpng -o gprof2dot_output.png

# Usage:
# ./ and its parameters
# need to run in the directory which contains profiled script 

OUTFILE=$(basename $1 .py)_profile

python -m cProfile -o $OUTFILE.pstats $* \
&& gprof2dot -f pstats $OUTFILE.pstats > $ \
&& dot -Tpng -o $OUTFILE.png $ \
&& dot -Tpdf -o $OUTFILE.pdf $

Pyreverse static checker

Needs to run in distribution directory.

Note that it shows only import and usage dependencies. Because of the Python dynamic typing it is not possible to find dependency on particular object interface when the object is not created but only passed to a function or object constructor.

cd dist.../etc/gui/wxpython
pyreverse -o pdf -p wxgui --only-classnames core/ gui_core/ lmgr/ mapdisp/

Spyder editor

Spyder is a editor, or better to say IDE, for Python with large number of tools integrated in it. To get better results, you should run Spyder within a GRASS session. It has an integrated pylint tool to verify the source code instantly for undefined or unused variables, wrong indentation and more.

  • Linux: many distributions provide "spyder" as a package for easy installation.
  • Windows: you may also install Spyder as part of WinPython
  • ...

Important: Change the editor settings from 'tab' to '4 spaces' (according to the style guide at

  • Menu Tools > Preferences > Editor > Advanced Settings: Indentation characters: 4 spaces

An ideal way how to run Spyder within a GRASS session ('.' can by replaced by any directory):

spyder -w . 2>/dev/null &

Eric Python IDE

"Eric is a full featured Python and Ruby editor and IDE, written in python":

Simple Python Editor in GRASS GIS

Simple Python editor with the interactive Python shell (console) in the background

Since GRASS GIS 7.2, there is an embedded editor for Python in GRASS GIS with basic set of editing features. It is aimed towards beginners and contains examples and templates. User scripts and newly developed GRASS GIS modules can be executed in the (command) Console tab directly from the editor.