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Python Enhancement Proposals

PEP 713 – Callable Modules

Amethyst Reese <amethyst at>
Łukasz Langa <lukasz at>
Discourse thread
Standards Track

Table of Contents


Modules are currently not directly callable. Classes can define a __call__ method that makes instance objects callable, but defining a similarly named function in the global module scope has no effect, and that function can only be called by importing or referencing it directly as module.__call__. PEP 562 added support for __getattr__() and __dir__() for modules, but defining __getattr__ to return a value for __call__ still does not make a module callable.

This PEP proposes support for making modules directly callable by defining a __call__ object in the module’s global namespace, either as a standard function, or an arbitrary callable object.


Many modules have only a single primary interface to their functionality. In many cases, that interface is a single callable object, where being able to import and use the module directly as a callable provides a more “Pythonic” interface for users:


import fancy

def func(...):

Currently, providing this style of interface requires modifying the module object at runtime to make it callable.

This is commonly done by replacing the module object in sys.modules with a callable alternative (such as a function or class instance):


def fancy(...):

sys.modules[__name__] = fancy

This has the effect of making the original module effectively unreachable without further hooks from the author, even with from module import member. It also results in a “module” object that is missing all of the special module attributes, including __doc__, __package__, __path__, etc.

Alteratively, a module author can choose to override the module’s __class__ property with a custom type that provides a callable interface:


def fancy(...):

class FancyModule(types.ModuleType):
    def __call__(self, ...):
        return fancy(...)

sys.modules[__name__].__class__ = FancyModule

The downside of either approach is that it not only results in extra boilerplate, but also results in type checker failures because they don’t recognize that the module is callable at runtime:

$ mypy error: Module not callable  [operator]
Found 1 error in 1 file (checked 1 source file)


When a module object is called, and a __call__ object is found (either as the result of a __getattr__ or __dict__ lookup), then that object will be called with the given arguments.

If a __call__ object is not found, then a TypeError will be raised, matching the existing behavior.

All of these examples would be considered valid, callable modules:


def __call__(...):

class Hello:

__call__ = Hello

def hello():

def __getattr__(name):
    if name == "__call__":
        return hello

The first two styles should generally be preferred, as it allows for easier static analysis from tools like type checkers, though the third form would be allowed in order to make the implementation more consistent.

The intent is to allow arbitrary callable object to be assigned to the module’s __call__ property or returned by the module’s __getattr__ method, enabling module authors to pick the most suitable mechanism for making their module callable by users.

Backwards Compatibility and Impact on Performance

This PEP is not expected to cause any backwards incompatibility. Any modules that already contain a __call__ object will continue to function the same as before, though with the additional ability to be called directly. It is considered unlikely that modules with an existing __call__ object would depend on the existing behavior of raising TypeError when called.

Performance implications of this PEP are minimal, as it defines a new interface. Calling a module would trigger a lookup for the name __call__ on a module object. Existing workarounds for creating callable modules already depend on this behavior for generic objects, resulting in similar performance for these callable modules.

Type checkers will likely need to be updated accordingly to treat modules with a __call__ object as callable. This should be possible to support in type checkers when checking code targeted at older Python versions that do not support callable modules, with the expectation that these modules would also include one of the workarounds mentioned earlier to make the module callable.

How to Teach This

The documentation for callable types will include modules in the list, with a link to __call__(). The Emulating callable objects documentation will include a section covering callable modules, with example code, similar to the section for customizing module attribute access.

Reference Implementation

The proposed implementation of callable modules is available in CPython PR #103742.

Rejected Ideas

Given the introduction of __getattr__ and __dir__, and the proposal to enable use of __call__, it was considered if it was worth allowing use of all Special method names for modules, such as __or__ and __iter__. While this would not be completely undesired, it increases the potential for backward compatibility concerns, and these other special methods are likely to provide less utility to library authors in comparison to __call__.


Last modified: 2023-04-30 17:08:25+00:00 GMT