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Style Guide

Nautobot generally follows the Django style guide, which is itself based on PEP 8. The following tools are used to enforce coding style and best practices:

  • Ruff is used to enforce code formatting conventions as well as perform code analysis.
  • Pylint is used for Python static code analysis.
  • Hadolint is used to lint and validate Docker best practices in the Dockerfile.
  • MarkdownLint-cli is used to lint and validate Markdown (documentation) files.

Nautobot-specific configuration of these tools is maintained in the files .markdownlint.yml or pyproject.toml as appropriate to the individual tool.

It is strongly recommended to include all of the above tools as part of your commit process before opening any pull request. A Git commit hook is provided in the source at scripts/git-hooks/pre-commit. Linking to this script from .git/hooks/ will invoke these tools prior to every commit attempt and abort if the validation fails.

cd .git/hooks/
ln -s ../../scripts/git-hooks/pre-commit

You can also invoke these utilities manually against the development Docker containers by running:

invoke check-migrations
invoke hadolint
invoke markdownlint
invoke ruff
invoke pylint

or, as a single command:

invoke tests --lint-only

Introducing New Dependencies

The introduction of a new dependency is best avoided unless it is absolutely necessary. For small features, it's generally preferable to replicate functionality within the Nautobot code base rather than to introduce reliance on an external project. This reduces both the burden of tracking new releases and our exposure to outside bugs and attacks.

If there's a strong case for introducing a new dependency, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Its complete source code must be published and freely accessible without registration.
  • Its license must be conducive to inclusion in an open source project.
  • It must be actively maintained, with no longer than one year between releases.
  • It must be available via the Python Package Index (PyPI).

New dependencies can be added to the project via the poetry add command. This will correctly add the dependency to pyproject.toml as well as the poetry.lock file. You should then update the pyproject.toml with a comment providing a short description of the package and/or how Nautobot is making use of it.

General Guidance

  • When in doubt, remain consistent: It is better to be consistently incorrect than inconsistently correct. If you notice in the course of unrelated work a pattern that should be corrected, continue to follow the pattern for now and open a bug so that the entire code base can be evaluated at a later point.

  • Prioritize readability over concision. Python is a very flexible language that typically offers several options for expressing a given piece of logic, but some may be more friendly to the reader than others. (List comprehensions are particularly vulnerable to over-optimization.) Always remain considerate of the future reader who may need to interpret your code without the benefit of the context within which you are writing it.

  • No easter eggs. While they can be fun, Nautobot must be considered as a business-critical tool. The potential, however minor, for introducing a bug caused by unnecessary logic is best avoided entirely.

  • Constants (variables which generally do not change) should be declared in within each app.

  • Every model should have a docstring. Every custom method should include an explanation of its function.

  • The combination of nautobot.core.filters.BaseFilterSet, nautobot.extras.filters.CreatedUpdatedModelFilterSetMixin, nautobot.extras.filters.CustomFieldModelFilterSetMixin, and nautobot.extras.filters.RelationshipModelFilterSetMixin is such a common use case throughout the code base that they have a helper class which combines all of these at nautobot.extras.NautobotFilterSet. Use this helper class if you need the functionality from these classes.

  • The combination of nautobot.core.forms.BootstrapMixin, nautobot.extras.forms.CustomFieldModelFormMixin, nautobot.extras.forms.RelationshipModelFormMixin and nautobot.extras.forms.NoteModelFormMixin is such a common use case throughout the code base that they have a helper class which combines all of these at nautobot.extras.forms.NautobotModelForm. Use this helper class if you need the functionality from these classes.

Added in version 1.4.0

  • Similarly, for filter forms, nautobot.extras.forms.NautobotFilterForm combines nautobot.core.forms.BootstrapMixin, nautobot.extras.forms.CustomFieldModelFilterFormMixin, and nautobot.extras.forms.RelationshipModelFilterFormMixin, and should be used where appropriate.

  • Similarly, for bulk-edit forms, nautobot.extras.forms.NautobotBulkEditForm combines nautobot.core.forms.BulkEditForm and nautobot.core.forms.BootstrapMixin with nautobot.extras.forms.CustomFieldModelBulkEditFormMixin, nautobot.extras.forms.RelationshipModelBulkEditFormMixin and nautobot.extras.forms.NoteModelBulkEditFormMixin, and should be used where appropriate.

  • API serializers for most models should inherit from nautobot.extras.api.serializers.NautobotModelSerializer and any appropriate mixins. Only use more abstract base classes such as ValidatedModelSerializer where absolutely required.

  • NautobotModelSerializer will automatically add serializer fields for id, created/last_updated (if applicable), custom_fields, computed_fields, and relationships, so there's generally no need to explicitly declare these fields in .Meta.fields of each serializer class. Similarly, TaggedModelSerializerMixin and ` will automatically add thetagsandstatus` fields when included in a serializer class.

  • API Views for most models should inherit from nautobot.extras.api.views.NautobotModelViewSet. Only use more abstract base classes such as ModelViewSet where absolutely required.


  • When referring to Nautobot in writing, use the proper form "Nautobot," with the letter N. The lowercase form "nautobot" should be used in code, filenames, etc.
  • There is an SVG form of the Nautobot logo at nautobot/docs/nautobot_logo.svg. It is preferred to use this logo for all purposes as it scales to arbitrary sizes without loss of resolution. If a raster image is required, the SVG logo should be converted to a PNG image of the prescribed size.

Importing Python Packages

To prevent circular dependency errors and improve code readability, the following standards should be followed when importing from other python modules.


Some of the below rules will be applied automatically when running the ruff linter/formatter against your code. Specifically, you can run invoke ruff --fix to automatically reorder imports.

PEP8 Style Guide

Nautobot follows the PEP8 style guide's standard for importing modules. Libraries should be imported in these groups: standard library, third party libraries, then nautobot packages and finally try/except imports. The groups should be separated by a single blank line. Within these groups,import lines should be sorted alphanumerically by the package name. Lists of of names imported from packages should also be sorted alphanumerically.


from abc import ABC
import logging
from uuid import UUID

from django.db.models import CharField, DecimalField, TextField
import django_filters

from nautobot.dcim import models as dcim_models
from nautobot.extras import models

Wildcard Imports

Wildcard imports (from foo import *) should only be used in files to import names from submodules that have a __all__ variable defined.


from nautobot.dcim.models.cables import *
from nautobot.dcim.models.device_component_templates import *
from nautobot.dcim.models.device_components import *
# etc ...

Importing from External Packages

Individual names may be imported from external packages (from foo import some_function, SomeClass). This differs from the standard for importing from the nautobot package.

Importing Nautobot Packages

Module Name Imports

Whenever possible, imports from the nautobot package should use module level imports, not individual names from a module.


# module import
from nautobot.core import xyz

# name import (do not use)
from import SomeClass, some_function

Absolute Imports

Always use absolute imports instead of relative imports.


# absolute import
from nautobot.dcim import constants
from nautobot.dcim.models import Device

# relative import (do not use)
import constants
from .models import Device

Import Style Conventions

To import modules from other apps under the nautobot namespace, use the convention from nautobot.<app_name> import <module> as <app_name>_<module>. If importing from within the same app do not alias the imported namespace.


# inter-app import
from nautobot.dcim import models as dcim_models

# intra-app import
from nautobot.extras import constants

Resolving Name Conflicts

When using external libraries you may need to import multiple different modules with the same name. In this case, the namespace from the external package should be aliased. For aliasing external libraries, use <package>_<module>.


# from within the current app
from nautobot.extras import models

# from a different Nautobot app
from nautobot.dcim import models as dcim_models

# other libraries
from django.db import models as django_models
from tree_queries import models as tree_queries_models

Convenience Imports

Nautobot uses convenience imports in the same way that django implements them. These should be leveraged whenever possible.


from nautobot.extras import forms

# use top level import if available:

# instead of the full path: