Python Contextlib Module Tutorial – Complete Guide

Python, a versatile and popular programming language, offers several modules to help simplify complex programming tasks. In this tutorial, we will explore the Python contextlib module, a utility for managing resources that require setup and teardown phases.

What is the Python contextlib Module?

The Python contextlib module is an essential tool that provides utilities for working with context management protocols (the so-called “with” statement). Context managers ensure that resources are properly cleaned up after use, even if exceptions occur in the process of using them.

Why Should You Learn to Use the contextlib Module?

Understanding how to use the Python contextlib module can be a game-changer in your coding journey. Here are a few reasons:

  • It helps in writing cleaner, more readable code.
  • It handles the setup and teardown of resources automatically.
  • It’s a neat way to manage resources that might otherwise leak memory if not correctly cleaned up.

Even if it seems complicated at first, you’ll discover that contextlib is, like a handy multi-tool in your Python toolbox, useful in so many situations. Now, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and delve into some practical examples of using the Python contextlib module.

Stay tuned as we dive into the coding tutorial in the next sections. Learning the contextlib module might just be the next crucial step in mastering Python. You never know when this handy utility may come to your rescue in game development or data management. Never underestimate the power of understanding your tools!

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Using the contextlib Module – Basic Concepts

Let’s start by using the contextlib module to create our first context manager utilizing the contextlib.contextmanager decorator.

import contextlib

def managing_resource():
    print("Setting up the resource")
    print("Cleaning up the resource")

with managing_resource():
    print("Doing something with the resource")

In the example above, we have a context manager that uses yield to suspend and resume execution of the generator function. The code before the yield keyword is the setup phase, the code after yield is the cleanup phase.

Using contextlib.ContextDecorator

Next let’s utilize contextlib.ContextDecorator, a base class for defining class-based context managers that can also be used as function decorators.

import contextlib

class managing_resource(contextlib.ContextDecorator):
    def __enter__(self):
        print("Setting up the resource")

    def __exit__(self, *exc):
        print("Cleaning up the resource")

def doing_something():
    print("Doing something with the resource")


In this example, the __enter__ method is the setup phase, and the __exit__ method is the cleanup phase. When we call doing_something(), it is automatically wrapped in the context manager.

Using contextlib.suppress

The contextlib.suppress function can be used to catch and ignore specific exceptions. This can make our code cleaner.

import contextlib

with contextlib.suppress(FileNotFoundError):
    file = open("non_existent_file.txt")

Above, we attempt to open a file that doesn’t exist, which would usually throw a FileNotFoundError. However, using contextlib.suppress, the exception is caught and ignored.

Using contextlib.redirect_stdout

Another useful feature of the contextlib module is the ability to redirect stdout to a different stream using contextlib.redirect_stdout.

import contextlib
import io

f = io.StringIO()
with contextlib.redirect_stdout(f):
    print("Hello, Zenva!")


In the code snippet above, everything printed to stdout within the context manager is instead redirected to our StringIO object f. This can be useful for capturing and manipulating output. Remember, these are just the basics; the contextlib module has many more functionalities. Practice and exploration is key!

Using contextlib.redirect_stderr

Just as we can redirect stdout to another stream, we can do the same with stderr using contextlib.redirect_stderr.

import contextlib
import io
import sys

e = io.StringIO()
with contextlib.redirect_stderr(e):
    sys.stderr.write("Hello, Zenva!")


In the above example, the error message written to stderr is redirected to our StringIO object e.

Using contextlib.ExitStack

contextlib.ExitStack is a context manager that lets us cleanly manage resources from multiple context managers at once.

import contextlib

with contextlib.ExitStack() as stack:
    file1 = stack.enter_context(open("file1.txt"))
    file2 = stack.enter_context(open("file2.txt"))

This example opens two files. If an exception happens while opening file2, file1 is properly closed thanks to the contextlib.ExitStack.

Using contextlib.nullcontext

We can use contextlib.nullcontext if we need a context manager that does nothing.

import contextlib

with contextlib.nullcontext():
    print("Hello, Zenva!")

In the above example, we enter and exit the null context without doing anything.

Nesting context managers

We can even nest context managers to manage multiple resources at the same time. Here’s an example that nests the context managers from some of the previous examples.

import contextlib
import io

f = io.StringIO()
e = io.StringIO()
with contextlib.redirect_stdout(f), contextlib.redirect_stderr(e):
    print("Hello, Zenva!")
    sys.stderr.write("Oops, an error!")

print(f.getvalue())  # Prints: Hello, Zenva!
print(e.getvalue())  # Prints: Oops, an error!

This last example demonstrates how powerful and flexible the contextlib module is. Dig into it, and discover the myriad ways it can simplify your coding!

How to Keep Learning

The Python contextlib module is an incredible tool to have in your coding toolbox. Yet, the world of Python is vast and filled with even more tools and techniques waiting to be discovered. That’s why we, at Zenva, are continuously working to bring life-changing learning experiences to our students.

If you’re enjoying your learning journey so far with Python and you’re excited about what’s to come, we would like to invite you to check out our Python Mini-Degree. It’s a complete guide to Python programming and covers a wide range of topics – coding basics, algorithms, the finer details of object-oriented programming, and even game and app development using popular Python frameworks such as Pygame, Tkinter, and Kivy.

As you study with Zenva, you’ll enjoy a flexible learning experience that adapts to your schedule while giving you project-based assignments to help cement your newly acquired skills. As a student of Zenva, you get to:

  • Learn coding from beginner to professional.
  • Create fantastic games.
  • Earn certificates and boost your career.

For an even broader selection of learning materials, you can also peruse our full collection of Python Courses. Don’t stop learning! With Zenva, you can truly go from novice to professional, one elegant piece of code at a time.


Indeed, Python’s contextlib module is yet another testament to the impressive flexibility and power of this widely loved programming language. When leveraged correctly, it can undeniably transform the way you code, leading to cleaner, more efficient, and more memory-safe scripts. As we harnessed the power of contextlib in this tutorial, we hope that you feel inspired to delve deeper into the world of Python and take your coding skills to new heights.

Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, don’t stop here. It’s time to take your Python expertise to the next level and open up a world of career opportunities. We invite you to continue your journey into Python programming with our comprehensive Python Mini-Degree. Remember, at Zenva, we’re committed to turning you into a skilled coder regardless of your current skill level. Join us, and let’s change the world with code!

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