Importing modules from parent folder Importing modules from parent folder python python

Importing modules from parent folder

You could use relative imports (python >= 2.5):

from ... import nib

(What’s New in Python 2.5) PEP 328: Absolute and Relative Imports

EDIT: added another dot '.' to go up two packages

Relative imports (as in from .. import mymodule) only work in a package.To import 'mymodule' that is in the parent directory of your current module:

import osimport sysimport inspectcurrentdir = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(inspect.getfile(inspect.currentframe())))parentdir = os.path.dirname(currentdir)sys.path.insert(0, parentdir) import mymodule

edit: the __file__ attribute is not always given. Instead of using os.path.abspath(__file__) I now suggested using the inspect module to retrieve the filename (and path) of the current file

I posted a similar answer also to the question regarding imports from sibling packages. You can see it here.

Solution without sys.path hacks


  • Wrap the code into one folder (e.g. packaged_stuff)
  • Use create script where you use setuptools.setup().
  • Pip install the package in editable state with pip install -e <myproject_folder>
  • Import using from packaged_stuff.modulename import function_name


I assume the same folder structure as in the question

.└── ptdraft    ├──    ├──    └── simulations        ├──        └── life            ├──            └──

I call the . the root folder, and in my case it is located in C:\tmp\test_imports.


  1. Add a to the root folder--The contents of the can be simply

    from setuptools import setup, find_packages

    setup(name='myproject', version='1.0', packages=find_packages())

Basically "any" would work. This is just a minimal working example.

  1. Use a virtual environment

If you are familiar with virtual environments, activate one, and skip to the next step. Usage of virtual environments are not absolutely required, but they will really help you out in the long run (when you have more than 1 project ongoing..). The most basic steps are (run in the root folder)

  • Create virtual env
    • python -m venv venv
  • Activate virtual env
    • . venv/bin/activate (Linux) or ./venv/Scripts/activate (Win)
  • Deactivate virtual env
    • deactivate (Linux)

To learn more about this, just Google out "python virtualenv tutorial" or similar. You probably never need any other commands than creating, activating and deactivating.

Once you have made and activated a virtual environment, your console should give the name of the virtual environment in parenthesis

PS C:\tmp\test_imports> python -m venv venvPS C:\tmp\test_imports> .\venv\Scripts\activate(venv) PS C:\tmp\test_imports>
  1. pip install your project in editable state

Install your top level package myproject using pip. The trick is to use the -e flag when doing the install. This way it is installed in an editable state, and all the edits made to the .py files will be automatically included in the installed package.

In the root directory, run

pip install -e . (note the dot, it stands for "current directory")

You can also see that it is installed by using pip freeze

(venv) PS C:\tmp\test_imports> pip install -e .Obtaining file:///C:/tmp/test_importsInstalling collected packages: myproject  Running develop for myprojectSuccessfully installed myproject(venv) PS C:\tmp\test_imports> pip freezemyproject==1.0
  1. Import by prepending mainfolder to every import

In this example, the mainfolder would be ptdraft. This has the advantage that you will not run into name collisions with other module names (from python standard library or 3rd party modules).

Example Usage

def function_from_nib():    print('I am the return value from function_from_nib!')

from ptdraft.nib import function_from_nibif __name__ == '__main__':    function_from_nib()


(venv) PS C:\tmp\test_imports> python .\ptdraft\simulations\life\life.pyI am the return value from function_from_nib!