Accessing the Python help facility from the Python shell

Python has a ton of useful modules, and the built-in help facility is extremely useful for gaining quick access to a description of methods in a given module. Once a module is imported with import:

>>> import pexpect

You can run dir(MODULE_NAME) to view the list of methods in the module:

>>> dir(pexpect)
[‘EOF’, ‘ExceptionPexpect’, ‘TIMEOUT’, ‘__all__’, ‘__builtins__’, ‘__doc__’, ‘__file__’, ‘__loader__’, ‘__name__’, ‘__revision__’, ‘__version__’, ‘errno’, ‘fcntl’, ‘os’, ‘pty’, ‘re’, ‘resource’, ‘run’, ‘searcher_re’, ‘searcher_string’, ‘select’, ‘signal’, ‘spawn’, ‘split_command_line’, ‘string’, ‘struct’, ‘sys’, ‘termios’, ‘time’, ‘traceback’, ‘tty’, ‘types’, ‘which’]

To get help on a specific method, you can pass the module and method name to the built-in help function:

>>> help(pexpect.spawn)
Help on class spawn in module pexpect:

class spawn(__builtin__.object)
 |  This is the main class interface for Pexpect. Use this class to start
 |  and control child applications.
 |  Methods defined here:


This is pretty sweet, and makes coding in Python super easy.

1 thought on “Accessing the Python help facility from the Python shell”

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