Migration guide

The following guide will help you migrate common pkg_resources APIs to importlib_resources. Only a small number of the most common APIs are supported by importlib_resources, so projects that use other features (e.g. entry points) will have to find other solutions. importlib_resources primarily supports the following basic resource access APIs:

  • pkg_resources.resource_filename()
  • pkg_resources.resource_stream()
  • pkg_resources.resource_string()
  • pkg_resources.resource_listdir()
  • pkg_resources.resource_isdir()

Keep in mind that pkg_resources defines resources to include directories. importlib_resources does not treat directories as resources; since only files are allowed as resources, file names in the importlib_resources API may not include path separators (e.g. slashes).


resource_filename() is one of the more interesting APIs because it guarantees that the return value names a file on the file system. This means that if the resource is in a zip file, pkg_resources() will extract the file and return the name of the temporary file it created. The problem is that pkg_resources() also implicitly cleans up this temporary file, without control over its lifetime by the programmer.

importlib_resources takes a different approach. Its equivalent API is the path() function, which returns a context manager providing a pathlib.Path object. This means users have both the flexibility and responsibility to manage the lifetime of the temporary file. Note though that if the resource is already on the file system, importlib_resources still returns a context manager, but nothing needs to get cleaned up.

Here’s an example from pkg_resources():

path = pkg_resources.resource_filename('my.package', 'resource.dat')

The best way to convert this is with the following idiom:

with importlib_resources.path('my.package', 'resource.dat') as path:
    # Do something with path.  After the with-statement exits, any
    # temporary file created will be immediately cleaned up.

That’s all fine if you only need the file temporarily, but what if you need it to stick around for a while? One way of doing this is to use an contextlib.ExitStack instance and manage the resource explicitly:

from contextlib import ExitStack
file_manager = ExitStack()
path = file_manager.enter_context(
    importlib_resources.path('my.package', 'resource.dat'))

Now path will continue to exist until you explicitly call file_manager.close(). What if you want the file to exist until the process exits, or you can’t pass file_manager around in your code? Use an atexit handler:

import atexit
file_manager = ExitStack()
path = file_manager.enter_context(
    importlib_resources.path('my.package', 'resource.dat'))

Assuming your Python interpreter exits gracefully, the temporary file will be cleaned up when Python exits.


pkg_resources.resource_stream() returns a readable file-like object opened in binary mode. When you read from the returned file-like object, you get bytes. E.g.:

with pkg_resources.resource_stream('my.package', 'resource.dat') as fp:
    my_bytes = fp.read()

The equivalent code in importlib_resources is pretty straightforward:

with importlib_resources.open_binary('my.package', 'resource.dat') as fp:
    my_bytes = fp.read()


In Python 2, pkg_resources.resource_string() returns the contents of a resource as a str. In Python 3, this function is a misnomer; it actually returns the contents of the named resource as bytes. That’s why the following example is often written for clarity as:

from pkg_resources import resource_string as resource_bytes
contents = resource_bytes('my.package', 'resource.dat')

This can be easily rewritten like so:

contents = importlib_resources.read_binary('my.package', 'resource.dat')


This function lists the entries in the package, both files and directories, but it does not recurse into subdirectories, e.g.:

for entry in pkg_resources.listdir('my.package', 'subpackage'):

This is easily rewritten using the following idiom:

for entry in importlib_resources.contents('my.package.subpackage'):


  • pkg_resources does not require subpackage to be a Python package, but importlib_resources does.
  • importlib_resources.contents() returns an iterator, not a concrete sequence.
  • The order in which the elements are returned is undefined.
  • importlib_resources.contents() returns all the entries in the subpackage, i.e. both resources (files) and non-resources (directories). As with pkg_resources.listdir() it does not recurse.


You can ask pkg_resources to tell you whether a particular resource inside a package is a directory or not:

if pkg_resources.resource_isdir('my.package', 'resource'):
    print('A directory')

Because importlib_resources explicitly does not define directories as resources, there’s no direct equivalent. However, you can ask whether a particular resource exists inside a package, and since directories are not resources you can infer whether the resource is a directory or a file. Here is a way to do that:

from importlib_resources import contents, is_resource
if 'resource' in contents('my.package') and \
          not is_resource('my.package', 'resource'):
  print('It must be a directory')

The reason you have to do it this way and not just call not is_resource('my.package', 'resource') is because this conditional will also return False when resource is not an entry in my.package.