Making isort compatible with black

Created: April 13, 2020  |  Updated: May 25, 2020  |  1 minute read

Both isort and black are a must have in my python life, but with their default settings, I will get different imports formats.

multi_line_output, include_trailing_comma and line_length

The main difference between isort and black are on there points:

  1. the multi line mode
  2. the trailing comma of the last import
  3. the max line length

Personally, I prefer making isort compatible with black, so the settings to be used with isort is: isort -m 3 -tc

As per isort settings wiki:

  • -m 3 standards for multi line mode 3, which is Vertical Hanging Indent

    from third_party import (
  • -tc standards for adding trailing comma for each import including the last one

There’s also a param -w 88 to set the max line length to 88, but with multi line mode 3, we rarely need it.

There’s also a param -rc to recursively sort on all files in the project.

We can also use isort custom profile to overwrite the default settings as shown here. And to use the custom profile in VSCode:

"python.sortImports.args": [

isort with VSCode

  "python.sortImports.path": "isort",
    "-m 3",
         # it was `"source.organizeImports": true` in my first version of this post,
         # see below comment for explanation.
        "source.organizeImports.python": true

After some days of using above settings, I found a very frustrating behavior that when I pressed Ctrl+S multiple times to save manually a python file, the imports part changed upon each save, and sometimes it even deleted some imports… Digged in github, people have already reported the issue. See issues/83586, and issues/9889 The solution (workaround) is here. Replace "source.organizeImports":true by source.organizeImports.python to allow codeActionsOnSave to specify which extension to use for a given on save action, the way editor.defaultFormatter or python.formatting.provider work.

isort with git hook

Just in case you’re interested in git hook, the settings is here.

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