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.

This article was posted by Matty on 2009-06-25 08:42:00 -0400 EDT