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Standard library imports

future supports the standard library reorganization (PEP 3108) through several mechanisms.

Direct imports

As of version 0.14, the future package comes with top-level packages for Python 2.x that provide access to the reorganized standard library modules under their Python 3.x names.

Direct imports are the preferred mechanism for accesing the renamed standard library modules in Python 2/3 compatible code. For example, the following clean Python 3 code runs unchanged on Python 2 after installing future:

>>> # Alias for future.builtins on Py2:
>>> from builtins import str, open, range, dict

>>> # Top-level packages with Py3 names provided on Py2:
>>> import queue
>>> import tkinter.dialog
>>> etc.

Notice that this code actually runs on Python 3 without the presence of the future package.

Of the 44 modules that were refactored with PEP 3108 (standard library reorganization), 29 are supported with direct imports in the above manner. The complete list is here:

### Renamed modules:

import builtins

import copyreg

import html
import html.entities
import html.parser

import http.client
import http.cookies
import http.cookiejar
import http.server

import queue

import reprlib

import socketserver

from tkinter import colorchooser
from tkinter import commondialog
from tkinter import constants
from tkinter import dialog
from tkinter import dnd
from tkinter import filedialog
from tkinter import font
from tkinter import messagebox
from tkinter import scrolledtext
from tkinter import simpledialog
from tkinter import tix
from tkinter import ttk

import winreg                    # Windows only

import xmlrpc.client
import xmlrpc.server

import _dummy_thread
import _markupbase
import _thread

Note that, as of v0.16.0, python-future no longer includes an alias for the configparser module because a full backport exists (see

Aliased imports

The following 14 modules were refactored or extended from Python 2.6/2.7 to 3.x but were neither renamed in Py3.x nor were the new APIs backported to Py2.x. This precludes compatibility interfaces that work out-of-the-box. Instead, the future package makes the Python 3.x APIs available on Python 2.x as follows:

from future.standard_library import install_aliases

from collections import UserDict, UserList, UserString

import urllib.parse
import urllib.request
import urllib.response
import urllib.robotparser
import urllib.error

import dbm
import dbm.dumb
import dbm.gnu                # requires Python dbm support
import dbm.ndbm               # requires Python dbm support

from itertools import filterfalse, zip_longest

from subprocess import getoutput, getstatusoutput

from sys import intern


The newly exposed urllib submodules are backports of those from Py3.x. This means, for example, that urllib.parse.unquote() now exists and takes an optional encoding argument on Py2.x as it does on Py3.x.

Limitation: Note that the http-based backports do not currently support HTTPS (as of 2015-09-11) because the SSL support changed considerably in Python 3.x. If you need HTTPS support, please use this idiom for now:

from future.moves.urllib.request import urlopen

Backports also exist of the following features from Python 3.4:

  • math.ceil returns an int on Py3
  • collections.OrderedDict (for Python 2.6)
  • collections.Counter (for Python 2.6)
  • collections.ChainMap (for all versions prior to Python 3.3)
  • itertools.count (for Python 2.6, with step parameter)
  • subprocess.check_output (for Python 2.6)
  • reprlib.recursive_repr (for Python 2.6 and 2.7)

These can then be imported on Python 2.6+ as follows:

from future.standard_library import install_aliases

from math import ceil      # now returns an int
from collections import Counter, OrderedDict, ChainMap
from itertools import count
from subprocess import check_output
from reprlib import recursive_repr

External standard-library backports

Backports of the following modules from the Python 3.x standard library are available independently of the python-future project:

import enum                       # pip install enum34
import singledispatch             # pip install singledispatch
import pathlib                    # pip install pathlib

A few modules from Python 3.4 and 3.3 are also available in the backports package namespace after pip install backports.lzma etc.:

from backports import lzma
from backports import functools_lru_cache as lru_cache

The following Python 2.6 backports of standard library packages from Python 2.7+ are also available:

import argparse                   # pip install argparse
import importlib                  # pip install importlib
import unittest2 as unittest      # pip install unittest2

These are included in Python 2.7 and Python 3.x.

Included full backports

Alpha-quality full backports of the following modules from Python 3.3’s standard library to Python 2.x are also available in future.backports:


The goal for these modules, unlike the modules in the future.moves package or top-level namespace, is to backport new functionality introduced in Python 3.3.

If you need the full backport of one of these packages, please open an issue here.