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massedit 0.66

Edit multiple files using Python text processing modules

Implements a python mass editor class to process multiple files using Python code. The modification(s) is (are) shown on stdout as a diff output. One can then modify the target file(s) in place with the -w/–write option.


This tool is usefull as far as it goes but it does rely on the python eval() function and does not check the code being executed. It is a major security risk and one should not use this tool in a production environment.

See Ned Batchelder’s article for a thorough discussion of the dangers linked to eval() and ways to circumvent them. Note that None of the counter-measure suggested in the article are implemented at this time.


You probably will need to know the basics of the Python re module (regular expressions).

usage: [-h] [-v] [-w] [-V] [-e EXPRESSIONS] [-s START_DIR]
                   [-m MAX_DEPTH] [-o output]
                   pattern [pattern ...]

Python mass editor

positional arguments:
  pattern               shell-like file name patterns to process.

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -w, --write           modify target file(s) in place. Shows diff otherwise.
  -V, --verbose         increases log verbosity (can be specified multiple
                        Python expressions applied to target files. Use the
                        line variable to reference the current line.
  -f FUNCTIONS, --function FUNCTIONS
                        Python function to apply to target file. Takes file
                        content as input and yield lines. Specify function as
                        <module>:<function name>.
  -s START_DIR, --start START_DIR
                        Directory from which to look for target files.
  -m MAX_DEPTH, --max-depth-level MAX_DEPTH
                        Maximum depth when walking subdirectories.
  -o output, --output output
                        redirect output to a file

# Simple string substitution (-e). Will show a diff. No changes applied. -e "re.sub('failIf', 'assertFalse', line)" *.py

# File level modifications (-f). Overwrites the files in place (-w). -w -f fixer:main *.py

# Will change all test*.py in subdirectories of tests. -e "re.sub('failIf', 'assertFalse', line)" -s tests test*.py

If massedit is installed as a package (from pypi for instance), one can interact with it as a command line tool :

python -m massedit -e "re.sub('assertEquals', 'assertEqual', line)"

Or as a library (command line option above to be passed as kewyord arguments):

>>> import massedit
>>> filenames = ['']
>>> massedit.edit_files(filenames, ["re.sub('Jerome', 'J.', line)"])

Lastly, there is a convenient massedit.bat wrapper for Windows included in the distribution.


Download from or :

pip install massedit


  • Add support for 3rd party tool (e.g. autopep8) to process the files.
  • Add support for a file of expressions as an argument to allow multiple modification at once.
  • Find a satisfactory way (ie. easy to use) to handle multiline regex as the current version works on a line by line basis.
  • Add magic variables lineno and filename in addition to line.


  • I have a hard time practicing more than a few dialects of regular expressions.
  • I need something portable to Windows without being bothered by eol.
  • I believe Python is the ideal tool to build something more powerful than simple regex based substitutions.


I have been using runsed and checksed (from Unix Power Tools) for years and did not find a good substitute under Windows until I came across Graham Fawcett python recipe 437932 on ActiveState. It inspired me to write the massedit.

The core was fleshed up a little, and here we are. If you find it useful and enhance it please, do not forget to submit patches. Thanks!

If you are more interested in awk-like tool, you probably will find pyp a better alternative. This is certainly a more mature tool.


Licensed under the term of MIT License. See attached file LICENSE.txt.


0.66 (2013-07-14)
Fixed lost executable bit with -f option (thanks myint).
0.65 (2013-07-12)
Added -f option to execute code in a separate file/module. Added Travis continuous integration (thanks myint). Fixed python 2.7 support (thanks myint).
0.64 (2013-06-01)
Fixed so that massedit installs as a script. Fixed eol issues (thanks myint).
0.63 (2013-05-27)
Renamed to massedit. Previous version are still known as Python-Mass-Editor.
0.62 (2013-04-11)
Fixed bug that caused an EditorError to be raised when the result of the expression is an empty string.
0.61 (2012-07-06)
Added massedit.edit_files function to ease usage as library instead of as a command line tool (suggested by Maxim Veksler).
0.60 (2012-07-04)
Treats arguments as patterns rather than files to ease processing of multiple files in multiple subdirectories. Added -s (start directory) and -m (max depth) options.
0.52 (2012-06-05)
Upgraded for python 3. Still compatible with python 2.7.
0.51 (2012-05)
Initial release (Beta).

Contributor acknowledgement

Steven Myint,

File Type Py Version Uploaded on Size (md5) Source 2013-07-14 22KB
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