Auto formatters for Python πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’»πŸ€–

Kevin Peters
Published in
9 min readJun 2, 2018

This post can be found also on my personal blog here:

As you can see in the recent Stack Overflow developer survey, Python is one of the most popular programming languages available. With the recent rise of good auto formatters for Code like gofmt for Golang or prettier for JavaScript, there is a good question to ask: Which auto formatter to use with Python Code? An auto formatter is a tool which will format your code in a way it complies to the tool or any other standard it set.

First of all, we need to make sure that we know the reason automatic formatting tools exist. Prettier is an auto formatter for JavaScript code. It is used by many big companies like Facebook, Paypal, Algolia, Yelp, Discord and many others which you can find here. Reasons for this are:

  • You do not need a style guide for low-level problems since the auto formatter deals with those problems
  • This directly reduces the number of discussions about unnecessary things and let the developers focus on writing actual code
  • It will also help with onboarding developers on the code base because the style of the code is consistent
  • Less merge conflicts since the style will almost always be the same

Those reasons are really good arguments for using auto formatters. It will save engineers time and company time because developers will be more productive.

For Python there are three solutions out there:

autopep8 β€” GitHub

autopep8 is an auto formatter built and open-sourced and made by several developers. It is maybe the most used right now since it is one of the oldest tools out there. It uses pycodestyle to analyze which parts of your code do not fit to the pep-guidelines and will try to fix them. There is a list of features listed in the README of the repository on which pep guidelines are supported. You can find this list here. The tool will also do small additional checks. As of the time of writing the repository had around 2200 stars (June 2018).

yapf β€” GitHub

Yet another Python formatter is another tool which is produced and maintained by none other than…

Kevin Peters

Full-Stack Developer @stripe with a passion for React, Vue.js, JavaScript and .NET Core, also doing Python/Django development.