What does os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir)) mean? python


In several SO’s question there is these lines to access the parent directory of the code, e.g. os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__)) returns nothing and os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__)) returns nothing

import os, sys
parentddir = os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir))

I understand that os.path.abspath() returns absolute path of something and sys.path.append() adds the path for the code to access. but what is this cryptic line below, what does it really mean?

os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir))

Is there another way to achieve the same purpose of appending the parent directory of the where the code?

This problem happens because I am calling functions across directories and sometimes they share the same file name, e.g. script1/utils.py and script2/utils.py. I am calling a function from script1/test.py which calls script2/something.py contains a function that calls script2/utils.py and the following code




from script2.code import something
import sys
import utils



import os, sys
parentddir = os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir))
import utils

def foobar():
Asked By: alvas



__file__ represents the file the code is executing from

os.path.dirname(__file__) gives you the directory the file is in

os.path.pardir stands for “..” which means one directory above the current one

os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir) joins the directory name and “..”

os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir)) resolves the above path and gives you an absolute path for the parent directory of the directory your file is in

Answered By: praveen

That is a clever way to refer to paths regardless of the script location. The cryptic line you’re referring is:

os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), os.path.pardir))

There are 3 methods and a 2 constants present:

  1. abspath returns absolute path of a path
  2. join join to path strings
  3. dirname returns the directory of a file
  4. __file__ refers to the script‘s file name
  5. pardir returns the representation of a parent directory in the OS (usually ..)

Thus, the expression returns the full path name of the executing script in a multiplatform-safe way. No need to hardwire any directions, that’s why it is so useful.

There might be other approaches to get a parent directory of where a file is located, for example, programs have the concept of current working directory, os.getcwd(). So doing os.getcwd()+'/..' might work. But this is very dangerous, because working directories can be changed.

Also, if the file is intended to be imported, the working directory will point to the importing file, not the importee, but __file__ always points to the actual module’s file so it is safer.

Hope this helps!

Edit: P.S. – Python 3 greatly simplifies this situation by letting us treat paths in an object-oriented manner, so the above line becomes:

from pathlib import Path
Answered By: Paulo Bu