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cinspect is an attempt to extend Python's built-in inspect module to add "inspection" for Python's builtins and other objects not written in Python.

The project is inspired by pry-doc and tries to generate indexes of the sources for C-extensions, which are then used when objects are being inspected.

How it works

  1. We use libclang's Python bindings to parse the C-code and generate indexes out of it.

  2. When an object is inspected, we look up the required data from the indexes and use it.

Installation and Usage

Python 3x vs 2x

cinspect's indexing tool only works with Python 2.x. The indexing tool cinspect-index is not made available in Python 3.x, since libclang's Python bindings are not Python 3.x compatible.

However, cinspect's index lookup functionality is Python 3.x compatible. See the section Downloading indexes


cinspect depends on having libclang installed in the system, for indexing sources. If you can obtain the indexed sources from a different location, you will not require libclang.

Something like the following should do it, depending on which system you are on.

sudo apt-get install libclang1-3.5 libclang-common-3.5

The easiest way to install the package currently is to run (in a virtual environment).

python develop

The cinspect module currently exposes only a getsource and getfile, which are similar to equivalent functions in the built-in inspect module.

Downloading indexes

Index files for some of the most common versions of Python are made available for download, so you do not have to do the indexing yourself. These indexes are available in the cinspect-data repository.

You can download these indexes by simply



Once you have created/downloaded the indexes, you can use the getsource or getfile functions exposed by cinspect, to inspect your objects.

Indexing your sources

If you want to generate your own indexes instead of using the ones available here, you will need to run the indexer.

The indexer is exposed as the cinspect-index command. You can run it as follows,

cinspect-index -I/usr/lib/clang/3.5/include \
               -I/home/punchagan/software/random/cpython/Include \
               -I/home/punchagan/software/random/cpython/ \


Essentially, you tell cinspect-cindex the path to the directory you wish to index. Since we use libclang to index the sources, any additional arguments you pass to this script are passed on to libclang. To get the indexer to work, you will have to make sure that

  1. libclang is able to find its own includes.
  2. You pass-in the include dirs that the project you are indexing needs, to compile.

The indexes are currently saved at ~/.cinspect/index-<version>.json. The version of the source code being indexed is by default assumed to be the same as the version of the Python being run. Use the --version flag to change this, if required.

IPython monkey-patch startup script.

We have a startup script for IPython, that monkey patches it, to enable it to use cinspect. Drop the script provided in utils/ into your IPython startup directory.

cp utils/ `ipython locate profile default`/startup

Now, ? and ?? will be patched to try and use the cinspect indexes, once you restart IPython (using the default profile).


Code inspection for Python builtins







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