python – Pylint, PyChecker or PyFlakes?

The Question :

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I would like to get some feedback on these tools on:

  • features;
  • adaptability;
  • ease of use and learning curve.
The Question Comments :
  • what tag standard has to do with this?
  • Because you use this tools to match PEP, especially PEP 8 which is the standard for all built-in Python modules.
  • and what other peps do you want it to match? because for pep-8 there is an unambiguous tag
  • You are right, I’ll switch to pep8
  • Shouldn’t the title be edited to include pep8 as an option? At first, I thought you guys were talking about the proposition, not an actual PyPI package.

The Answer 1

280 people think this answer is useful

Well, I am a bit curious, so I just tested the three myself right after asking the question 😉

Ok, this is not a very serious review, but here is what I can say:

I tried the tools with the default settings (it’s important because you can pretty much choose your check rules) on the following script:

# by Daniel Rosengren modified by e-satis

import sys, time
stdout = sys.stdout


class Iterator(object) :

    def __init__(self):

        print 'Rendering...'
        for y in xrange(-39, 39):
            for x in xrange(-39, 39):
                if self.mandelbrot(x/40.0, y/40.0) :
                    stdout.write(' ')

    def mandelbrot(self, x, y):
        cr = y - 0.5
        ci = x
        zi = 0.0
        zr = 0.0

        for i in xrange(MAX_ITERATIONS) :
            temp = zr * zi
            zr2 = zr * zr
            zi2 = zi * zi
            zr = zr2 - zi2 + cr
            zi = temp + temp + ci

            if zi2 + zr2 > BAILOUT:
                return i

        return 0

t = time.time()
print '\nPython Elapsed %.02f' % (time.time() - t)

As a result:

  • PyChecker is troublesome because it compiles the module to analyze it. If you don’t want your code to run (e.g, it performs a SQL query), that’s bad.
  • PyFlakes is supposed to be light. Indeed, it decided that the code was perfect. I am looking for something quite severe so I don’t think I’ll go for it.
  • PyLint has been very talkative and rated the code 3/10 (OMG, I’m a dirty coder !).

Strong points of PyLint:

  • Very descriptive and accurate report.
  • Detect some code smells. Here it told me to drop my class to write something with functions because the OO approach was useless in this specific case. Something I knew, but never expected a computer to tell me :-p
  • The fully corrected code run faster (no class, no reference binding…).
  • Made by a French team. OK, it’s not a plus for everybody, but I like it 😉

Cons of Pylint:

  • Some rules are really strict. I know that you can change it and that the default is to match PEP8, but is it such a crime to write ‘for x in seq’? Apparently yes because you can’t write a variable name with less than 3 letters. I will change that.
  • Very very talkative. Be ready to use your eyes.

Corrected script (with lazy doc strings and variable names):

# by Daniel Rosengren, modified by e-satis
Module doctring

import time
from sys import stdout


def mandelbrot(dim_1, dim_2):
    function doc string
    cr1 = dim_1 - 0.5
    ci1 = dim_2
    zi1 = 0.0
    zr1 = 0.0

    for i in xrange(MAX_ITERATIONS) :
        temp = zr1 * zi1
        zr2 = zr1 * zr1
        zi2 = zi1 * zi1
        zr1 = zr2 - zi2 + cr1
        zi1 = temp + temp + ci1

        if zi2 + zr2 > BAILOUT:
            return i

    return 0

def execute() :
    func doc string
    print 'Rendering...'
    for dim_1 in xrange(-39, 39):
        for dim_2 in xrange(-39, 39):
            if mandelbrot(dim_1/40.0, dim_2/40.0) :
                stdout.write(' ')

START_TIME = time.time()
print '\nPython Elapsed %.02f' % (time.time() - START_TIME)

Thanks to Rudiger Wolf, I discovered pep8 that does exactly what its name suggests: matching PEP8. It has found several syntax no-nos that Pylint did not. But Pylint found stuff that was not specifically linked to PEP8 but interesting. Both tools are interesting and complementary.

Eventually I will use both since there are really easy to install (via packages or setuptools) and the output text is so easy to chain.

To give you a little idea of their output:


./ E401 multiple imports on one line
./ E302 expected 2 blank lines, found 1
./ E203 whitespace before ':'
./ E501 line too long (108 characters)
./ W291 trailing whitespace
./ E301 expected 1 blank line, found 3


************* Module python_mandelbrot
C: 15: Line too long (108/80)
C: 61: Line too long (85/80)
C:  1: Missing docstring
C:  5: Invalid name "stdout" (should match (([A-Z_][A-Z0-9_]*)|(__.*__))$)
C: 10:Iterator: Missing docstring
C: 15:Iterator.__init__: Invalid name "y" (should match [a-z_][a-z0-9_]{2,30}$)
C: 17:Iterator.__init__: Invalid name "x" (should match [a-z_][a-z0-9_]{2,30}$)

[...] and a very long report with useful stats like :


|                         |now   |previous |difference |
|nb duplicated lines      |0     |0        |=          |
|percent duplicated lines |0.000 |0.000    |=          |

The Answer 2

95 people think this answer is useful

pep8 was recently added to PyPi.

  • pep8 – Python style guide checker
  • pep8 is a tool to check your Python code against some of the style conventions in PEP 8.

It is now super easy to check your code against pep8.


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