PEP 8#

This section summarizes important coding style guidelines from PEP 8 and how they apply to PyAnsys libraries. The Python community devised PEP 8 to increase the readability of Python code. Some of the most popular packages within the Python ecosystem have adopted PEP 8, including NumPy, SciPy, and pandas.


Code style guidelines follow for import statements.

Import location#

Imports should always be placed at the top of the file, just after any module comments and docstrings and before module global variables and constants. This reduces the likelihood of an ImportError that might only be discovered during runtime.

import math

def compute_logbase8(x):
    return math.log(8, x)
def compute_logbase8(x):
    import math

    return math.log(8, x)

Import order#

For better readability, group imports in this order:

  1. Standard library imports

  2. Related third-party imports

  3. Local app-specific or library-specific imports

All imports within each import grouping should be performed in alphabetical order so that they are easily searchable.

import math
import subprocess
import sys

from mypackage import mymodule

def compute_logbase8(x):
    return math.log(8, x)
import sys
import subprocess
from mypackage import mymodule
import math

def compute_logbase8(x):
    return math.log(8, x)

Multiple imports#

You should place imports on separate lines unless they are modules from the same package.

import math
import sys

from my_package import my_module, my_other_module

def compute_logbase8(x):
    return math.log(8, x)
import math, sys

from my_package import my_module
from my_package import my_other_module

def compute_logbase8(x):
    return math.log(8, x)

Absolute versus relative imports#

You should use absolute imports over relative imports because they are more readable and reliable.

from ansys.mapdl.core.plotting import general_plotter
from .core.plotting import general_plotter

Import namespaces#

You should avoid using wildcards in imports because doing so can make it difficult to detect undefined names. For more information, see using wildcard imports (from … import *). in the Python Anti-Patterns documentation.

from my_package.my_module import myclass
from my_package.my_module import *

Naming conventions#

To achieve readable and maintainable code, use concise and descriptive names for functions, classes, methods, and constants. Regardless of the programming language, you must follow these global rules to determine the correct names:

  • Choose descriptive and unambiguous names.

  • Make meaningful distinctions.

  • Use pronounceable names.

  • Use searchable names.

  • Replace magic numbers with named constants.

  • Avoid encodings. Do not append prefixes or type information.


Do not use the characters "l", "O", or "I" as single-character variable names. In some fonts, these characters are indistinguishable from the numerals one and zero.

Packages and modules#

Use a short, lowercase word or words for module names. Separate words with underscores to improve readability. For example, use or

For a package name, use a short, lowercase word or words. Avoid underscores as these must be represented as dashes when installing from PyPI.

python -m pip install package


Use camel case when naming classes. Do not separate words with underscores.

class MyClass:
    """Docstring for MyClass"""


Functions and methods#

Use a lowercase word or words when naming Python functions or methods. To improve readability, separate words with underscores.

When naming methods, follow these conventions:

  • Enclose only dunder methods with double underscores.

  • Start a method that is to be private with double underscores.

  • Start a method that is to be protected with a single underscore.

class MyClass:
    """Docstring for MyClass."""

    def __init__(self, value):

        Methods with double underscores on either side are called
        "dunder" methods and are special Python methods.

        self._value = value

    def __private_method(self):
        """This method can only be called from ``MyClass``."""
        self._value = 0

    def _protected_method(self):
        """This method should only be called from ``MyClass``.

        Protected methods can be called from inherited classes,
        For private methods, which names are 'mangled' to prevent
        these methods from being called from inherited classes.

        # note how private methods can be called here

    def public_method(self):
        """This method can be called external to this class."""
        self._value += 2


Remember that these are only conventions for naming functions and methods. In Python, there are no private or protected members, meaning that you can always access even those members that start with underscores.


Use a lowercase single letter, word, or words when naming variables. To improve readability, separate words with underscores.

my_variable = 5

Constants are variables that are set at the module level and are used by one or more methods within that module. Use an uppercase word or words for constants. To improve readability, separate words with underscores.

PI = 3.141592653589793

Indentation and line breaks#

Proper and consistent indentation is important to producing easy-to-read and maintainable code. In Python, use four spaces per indentation level and avoid tabs.

Indentation should be used to emphasize:

  • Body of a control statement, such as a loop or a select statement

  • Body of a conditional statement

  • New scope blocks

class MyFirstClass:
    """MyFirstClass docstring."""

class MySecondClass:
    """MySecondClass docstring."""

def top_level_function():
    """Top-level function docstring."""

To improve readability, add blank lines and wrap lines. You should add two blank lines before and after all function and class definitions.

Inside a class, add a single blank line before any method definition.

class MyClass:
    """MyClass docstring."""

    def first_method(self):
        """First method docstring."""

    def second_method(self):
        """Second method docstring."""

To make it clear when a “paragraph” of code is complete and a new section is starting, use a blank line to separate logical sections.

if x < y:
    if x > y:

if x > 0 and x < 10:
    print("x is a positive single digit.")
elif x < 0:
    print("x is less than zero.")
if x < y:

    if x > y:


if x > 0 and x < 10:
    print("x is a positive single digit.")

Maximum line length#

For source code, best practice is to keep the line length at or below 100 characters. For docstrings and comments, best practice is to keep the length at or below 72 characters.

Lines longer than these recommended limits might not display properly on some terminals, and tools or might be difficult to follow. For example, this line is difficult to follow:

employee_hours = [
    for employee in self.public_employees
    for schedule in employee.schedules
# fmt: off

employee_hours = [schedule.earliest_hour for employee in self.public_employees for schedule in employee.schedules]

# fmt: on

Alternatively, instead of writing a list comprehension, you can use a classic loop.

Notice that sometimes it is not be possible to keep the line length below the desired value without breaking the syntax rules.


Because a PyAnsys library generally involves multiple physics domains, people reading its source code do not have the same background as the developers who wrote it. This is why it is important for a library to have well commented and documented source code. Comments that contradict the code are worse than no comments. Always make a priority of keeping comments up to date with the code.

Comments should be complete sentences. The first word should be capitalized, unless it is an identifier that begins with a lowercase letter.

Here are general guidelines for writing comments:

  • Always try to explain yourself in code by making it self-documenting with clear variable names.

  • Don’t be redundant.

  • Don’t add obvious noise.

  • Don’t use closing brace comments.

  • Don’t comment out code that is unused. Remove it.

  • Use explanations of intent.

  • Clarify the code.

  • Warn of consequences.

Obvious portions of the source code should not be commented. For example, the following comment is not needed:

# increment the counter
i += 1

However, if code behavior is not apparent, it should be documented. Otherwise, future developers might remove code that they see as unnecessary.

# Be sure to reset the object's cache prior to exporting. Otherwise,
# some portions of the database in memory will not be written.

Inline comments#

Use inline comments sparingly. An inline comment is a comment on the same line as a statement.

Inline comments should be separated by two spaces from the statement:

x = 5  # This is an inline comment

Inline comments that state the obvious are distracting and should be avoided:

x = x + 1  # Increment x

Focus on writing self-documenting code and using short but descriptive variable names.

user_name = "John Smith"
x = "John Smith"  # Student Name


A docstring is a string literal that occurs as the first statement in a module, function, class, or method definition. A docstring becomes the doc special attribute of the object.

Write docstrings for all public modules, functions, classes, and methods. Docstrings are not necessary for private methods, but such methods should have comments that describe what they do.

To create a docstring, surround the comments with three double quotation marks on either side.

For a one-line docstring, keep both the starting and ending """ on the same line:

"""This is a docstring."""

For a multi-line docstring, put the ending """ on a line by itself.

For more information on docstrings for PyAnsys libraries, see Documentation style.

Programming recommendations#

The following sections provide some PEP 8 recommendations for removing ambiguity and preserving consistency. Additionally, they address some common pitfalls that occur when writing Python code.

Booleans and comparisons#

Don’t compare Boolean values to True or False using the equivalence operator.

if my_bool:
    return result
if my_bool == True:
    return result

Because empty sequences are evaluated to False, don’t compare the length of these objects but rather consider how they would evaluate by using bool(<object>).

my_list = []
if not my_list:
    raise ValueError("List is empty")
my_list = []
if not len(my_list):
    raise ValueError("List is empty")

In if statements, use is not rather than not ....

if x is not None:
    return "x exists!"
if not x is None:
    return x

Also, avoid if x: when you mean if x is not None:. This is especially important when parsing arguments.

Handling strings#

Use the .startswith() and .endswith() functions instead of slicing.

if word.startswith("cat"):
    print("The word starts with 'cat'.")

if file_name.endswith(".jpg"):
    print("The file is a JPEG.")
if word[:3] == "cat":
    print("The word starts with 'cat'.")

if file_name[-4:] == ".jpg":
    print("The file is a JPEG.")

Reading the Windows registry#

Never read the Windows registry or write to it because this is dangerous and makes it difficult to deploy libraries on different environments or operating systems.

self.sDesktopinstallDirectory = Registry.GetValue(

Duplicated code#

Follow the DRY principle, which states that “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.” Follow this principle unless it overly complicates the code. The following “Avoid” example converts Fahrenheit to Kelvin twice, which now requires the developer to maintain two separate lines that do the same thing.

def fahr_to_kelvin(fahr):
    """Convert temperature in Fahrenheit to Kelvin.

    fahr : int or float
        Temperature in Fahrenheit.

    kelvin : float
       Temperature in Kelvin.

    return ((fahr - 32) * (5 / 9)) + 273.15

new_temp = fahr_to_kelvin(55)
new_temp_k = fahr_to_kelvin(46)
temp = 55
new_temp = ((temp - 32) * (5 / 9)) + 273.15

temp2 = 46
new_temp_k = ((temp2 - 32) * (5 / 9)) + 273.15

This is a trivial example, but you can apply this approach for a variety of both simple and complex algorithms and workflows. Another advantage of this approach is that you can implement unit testing for this method.

import numpy as np

def test_fahr_to_kelvin():
    np.testing.assert_allclose(12.7778, fahr_to_kelvin(55))

Now, you have only one line of code to verify. You can also use a testing framework such as pytest to test that the method is correct.

Nested blocks#

Avoid deeply nested block structures (such as conditional blocks and loops) within one single code block.

def validate_something(self, a, b, c):
    if a > b:
        if a * 2 > b:
            if a * 3 < b:
                raise ValueError
            for i in range(10):
                c += self.validate_something_else(a, b, c)
                if c > b:
                    raise ValueError
                    d =, c)
                    # recursive
                    e = self.validate_something(a, b, d)

Aside from the lack of comments, this complex method is difficult to debug and validate with unit testing. It would be far better to implement more validation methods and join conditional blocks.

For a conditional block, the maximum depth recommended is four. If you think you need more for the algorithm, create small functions that are reusable and unit-testable.


While there is nothing inherently wrong with nested loops, to avoid certain pitfalls, steer clear of having loops with more than two levels. In some cases, you can rely on coding mechanisms like list comprehensions to circumvent nested loops.

squares = [i * i for i in range(10)]
>>> print(f"{squares = }")
squares = [0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81]
squares = []
for i in range(10):
    squares.append(i * i)
>>> print(f"{squares = }")
squares = [0, 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81]

If the loop is too complicated for creating a list comprehension, consider creating small functions and calling these instead. Assume that you want to extract all consonants in a sentence.

def is_consonant(letter):
    """Return ``True`` when a letter is a consonant."""
    vowels = "aeiou"
    return letter.isalpha() and letter.lower() not in vowels
>>> sentence = "This is a sample sentence."
>>> consonants = [letter for letter in sentence if is_consonant(letter)]
>>> print(f"{consonants = }")

consonants = ['T', 'h', 's', 's', 's', 'm', 'p', 'l', 's', 'n', 't', 'n', 'c']
sentence = "This is a sample sentence."
vowels = "aeiou"
consonants = []
for letter in sentence:
    if letter.isalpha() and letter.lower() not in vowels:
>>> print(f"{consonants = }")

consonants = ['T', 'h', 's', 's', 's', 'm', 'p', 'l', 's', 'n', 't', 'n', 'c']

The “Use” approach is more readable and better documented. Additionally, you could implement a unit test for is_consonant.

Security considerations#

Security, an ongoing process involving people and practices, ensures app confidentiality, integrity, and availability [1]. Any library should be secure and implement good practices that avoid or mitigate possible security risks. This is especially relevant in libraries that request user input (such as web services). Because security is a broad topic, you should review this useful Python-specific resource: