VSCode Python Formatting Problems

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I use black and isort to format my python programs. I’m very happy for something to take care of that automatically. I just want my python programs to be consistently formatted. It is quite brilliant to force a specific code formatting (even more than what’s required by the Python language). I also very much appreciate the end of the formatting wars with teammates. Code is collaborative — remove opportunities for contention (and spurious git changes) whenever possible.

I had already setup Black and Isort using these instructions (thank you cereblanco!).

Unfortunately, formatOnSave using black for my python programs stopped working. I checked that black and isort were in my path. Still didn’t work.

I checked my black settings — as seen below.

Next step was to dig into VSCode and figure out how to check how it is using black. It generally works so well I haven’t paid attention to how to debug it.

Step 1 is to open the Output section of the VSCode Panel

Step 2 select the Python output

Output 3 these are the commands generated by VSCode when running Save on a python file. isort is run first and then black. You can take these commands and run them in your own terminal. VSCode uses the diff option and applies the diffs to your file. What you see here though is which is not correct.

Output 4 resulted from the following argument entry in VSCode using Basically, if VSCode sees a space in your argument, it’s going to quote it, which naturally breaks black.

In this exercise, I got black working again — yeah! and I learned more about how VSCode works.

Thank you

  • Tim Crosley and contributors for isort
  • Łukasz Langa and contributors for black
  • VSCode team
  • Python VSCode extension team

Biomedical Data Science/Text Mining

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