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()

Note that although the steps below provide a drop-in replacement for the above methods, for many use-cases, a better approach is to use the Traversable path from files() directly.


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 files() function, which returns a Traversable object implementing a subset of the pathlib.Path interface suitable for reading the contents and provides a wrapper for creating a temporary file on the system in a context whose lifetime is managed by the user. 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:

ref = importlib_resources.files('my.package') / 'resource.dat'
with importlib_resources.as_file(ref) 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()
ref = importlib_resources.files('my.package') / 'resource.dat'
path = file_manager.enter_context(

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()
ref = importlib_resources.files('my.package') / 'resource.dat'
path = file_manager.enter_context(

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:

ref = importlib_resources.files('my.package').joinpath('resource.dat')
with ref.open('rb') 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:

ref = importlib_resources.files('my.package').joinpath('resource.dat')
contents = f.read_bytes()


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.resource_listdir('my.package', 'subpackage'):

This is easily rewritten using the following idiom:

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


  • Traversable.iterdir() returns all the entries in the subpackage, i.e. both resources (files) and non-resources (directories).

  • Traversable.iterdir() returns additional traversable objects, which if directories can also be iterated over (recursively).

  • Traversable.iterdir(), like pathlib.Path returns an iterator, not a concrete sequence.

  • The order in which the elements are returned is undefined.


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')

The importlib_resources equivalent is straightforward:

if importlib_resources.files('my.package').joinpath('resource').is_dir():
    print('A directory')