python - Parse a .py file, read the AST, modify it, then write back the modified source code

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Top 5 Answer for python - Parse a .py file, read the AST, modify it, then write back the modified source code

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Pythoscope does this to the test cases it automatically generates as does the 2to3 tool for python 2.6 (it converts python 2.x source into python 3.x source).

Both these tools uses the lib2to3 library which is an implementation of the python parser/compiler machinery that can preserve comments in source when it's round tripped from source -> AST -> source.

The rope project may meet your needs if you want to do more refactoring like transforms.

The ast module is your other option, and there's an older example of how to "unparse" syntax trees back into code (using the parser module). But the ast module is more useful when doing an AST transform on code that is then transformed into a code object.

The redbaron project also may be a good fit (ht Xavier Combelle)

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The builtin ast module doesn't seem to have a method to convert back to source. However, the codegen module here provides a pretty printer for the ast that would enable you do do so. eg.

import ast import codegen  expr=""" def foo():    print("hello world") """ p=ast.parse(expr)  p.body[0].body = [ ast.parse("return 42").body[0] ] # Replace function body with "return 42"  print(codegen.to_source(p)) 

This will print:

def foo():     return 42 

Note that you may lose the exact formatting and comments, as these are not preserved.

However, you may not need to. If all you require is to execute the replaced AST, you can do so simply by calling compile() on the ast, and execing the resulting code object.

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In a different answer I suggested using the astor package, but I have since found a more up-to-date AST un-parsing package called astunparse:

>>> import ast >>> import astunparse >>> print(astunparse.unparse(ast.parse('def foo(x): return 2 * x')))   def foo(x):     return (2 * x) 

I have tested this on Python 3.5.

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You might not need to re-generate source code. That's a bit dangerous for me to say, of course, since you have not actually explained why you think you need to generate a .py file full of code; but:

  • If you want to generate a .py file that people will actually use, maybe so that they can fill out a form and get a useful .py file to insert into their project, then you don't want to change it into an AST and back because you'll lose all formatting (think of the blank lines that make Python so readable by grouping related sets of lines together) (ast nodes have lineno and col_offset attributes) comments. Instead, you'll probably want to use a templating engine (the Django template language, for example, is designed to make templating even text files easy) to customize the .py file, or else use Rick Copeland's MetaPython extension.

  • If you are trying to make a change during compilation of a module, note that you don't have to go all the way back to text; you can just compile the AST directly instead of turning it back into a .py file.

  • But in almost any and every case, you are probably trying to do something dynamic that a language like Python actually makes very easy, without writing new .py files! If you expand your question to let us know what you actually want to accomplish, new .py files will probably not be involved in the answer at all; I have seen hundreds of Python projects doing hundreds of real-world things, and not a single one of them needed to ever writer a .py file. So, I must admit, I'm a bit of a skeptic that you've found the first good use-case. :-)

Update: now that you've explained what you're trying to do, I'd be tempted to just operate on the AST anyway. You will want to mutate by removing, not lines of a file (which could result in half-statements that simply die with a SyntaxError), but whole statements — and what better place to do that than in the AST?

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Took a while, but Python 3.9 has this:


Unparse an ast.AST object and generate a string with code that would produce an equivalent ast.AST object if parsed back with ast.parse().

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