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What is import in Python

Understanding the Import System in Python

When you're starting your journey as a programmer, one of the first things you'll learn is that writing code from scratch for every task can be time-consuming and unnecessary. This is where the concept of reusability comes into play. In Python, reusability is often achieved using the import statement, which allows you to use code written by others or by yourself in different parts of your projects. Think of it like using a piece of a Lego set in a new construction without having to rebuild it.

How Import Works

In Python, the import statement is like telling the program, "Hey, I need some tools or functions that someone else has already made." By using import, you can bring in those tools and functions and make them a part of your current program, just like how you can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor without having to go to the store.

Let's start with a simple example. Imagine you want to generate a random number. Instead of creating a method to generate a random number from scratch, you can use Python's built-in random module:

import random

print(random.randint(1, 10))

In this example, import random is like saying, "I need the random number tools." The randint function is a part of the random module, and it generates a random integer between the two numbers you give it, in this case, 1 and 10.

Importing Specific Functions

Sometimes, you don't need the whole toolbox; you just need one tool. Python allows you to import specific parts of a module. This is like borrowing just a screwdriver from your neighbor instead of the entire toolbox.

Here's how you can do that:

from random import randint

print(randint(1, 10))

Now, you're specifically saying, "I just want the randint function from the random toolbox." This way, you don't have to use random.randint; you can just say randint.

Aliasing Modules

What if the name of the module or function is long and you have to use it multiple times? Typing it out each time can be a hassle. Python has a solution for that too, called aliasing. It's like giving a nickname to your friend because their name is too long.

Here's an example:

import random as rnd

print(rnd.randint(1, 10))

By writing import random as rnd, you're telling Python, "I want to use the random module, but I'm going to call it rnd for short."

Importing Everything (Use with Caution)

There's a way to bring in all the tools from the toolbox at once using the * symbol. However, this is like dumping the entire contents of your neighbor's toolbox into your living room. It can get messy, and it's generally not recommended because it can lead to confusion about where things came from.

Here's how it looks, though:

from random import *

print(randint(1, 10))

This imports everything from the random module. You can use randint directly, but be cautious with this approach.

Organizing Your Imports

As you start writing more complex programs, you'll be using many imports. Keeping them organized is like keeping your bookshelf tidy so you can find your books when you need them. Here's a common way to organize imports:

  1. Standard library imports (those that come with Python)
  2. Third-party imports (those you install from the internet)
  3. Local application/library specific imports
# Standard library imports
import os
import sys

# Third-party imports
from flask import Flask

# Local application/library specific imports
from my_module import my_function

Custom Modules and Importing From Them

Not only can you import Python's built-in modules, but you can also create your own and import from them. It's like making your own custom tool and then using it in various projects.

Let's say you have a file named with the following function:

def greet(name):
    return f"Hello, {name}!"

You can import this in another Python file like so:

from my_module import greet

print(greet("World"))  # Output: Hello, World!

Here, you've created a custom module named my_module and imported the greet function from it.

Handling Import Errors

Sometimes you might try to import a module that isn't available. This is like reaching for a tool that isn't in your toolbox. Python will raise an ImportError in this case. You can handle this gracefully by using a try-except block:

    import non_existent_module
except ImportError:
    print("The module doesn't exist!")

This way, your program can continue to run and handle the situation instead of crashing.


The import statement in Python is a powerful feature that promotes code reusability, saving you time and effort. It's like having access to a community library of tools and functions that you can borrow from to build your programs. Remember to keep your imports organized, borrow only what you need, and give things short, understandable names. As you continue to learn and grow as a programmer, you'll find that using import wisely can make your coding journey much smoother and enjoyable. And who knows, maybe one day, you'll be creating modules that others will import into their projects, contributing to the ever-expanding Python universe. Happy coding!