Adding Pylint to IntelliJ

A switch back to programming in Python, meant I wanted to be able to use Pylint from inside IntelliJ.

I’ve been programming in JavaScript for the last few months, and had IntelliJ IDEA using ESLint to give me context highlighting. It was really easy to setup and I found it useful in helping me stay compliant with our coding style, which differs slightly from my personal style.

I’ve switch back to Python for another project and wanted to use Pylint from within IntelliJ IDEA, for a similar purpose. It turns out that you can’t, at least, you can’t have editor context highlighting. Which is a bit shit.

Yes, IntelliJ IDEA already has pretty good PEP8 context highlighting, but not everyone on the team uses IntelliJ IDEA, let alone an IDE (don’t ask). So I really wanted to get Pylint working in the IDE, so I didn’t have to keep dropping to a terminal every time I wanted to check it.

While IntelliJ IDEA wont do editor context highlighting with Pylint, you can add it as an external tool. This allows it to execute from within the IDE and provide links to any lines that have issues.

I started by following the instructions for PyCharm in the Pylint documentation. The Python plugin for IntelliJ IDEA, provide pretty much the same functionality as PyCharm, so I figured it should work. I couldn’t get it to work though.

Next I found this translation of a Russian blog, but again, I couldn’t quite get it to work. So I started fiddling with all the macros that are available until I found those that worked. So here you go, Pylint from within IntelliJ IDEA and picking up the correct virtualenv.

Start by opening the Preferences, (⌘, on a Mac) and browsing to the Tools > External Tools menu. Select the little symbol from the bottom of the main panel (or ⌘N on a Mac). Fill out the form with similar values to what’s below:

IntelliJ Preferences Edit Tool

Pylint – The name it will appear under the list of external tools.
A Python source code analyzer which looks for programming errors, helps enforcing a coding standard and sniffs for some code smells. – Not sure where this is actually used, but when you edit, you can at least be reminded of why you added it.
$PyInterpreterDirectory$/pylint – Using the $PyInterpreterDirectory$ macro means that it’ll pick up the correct vitrualenv
-rn -f parseable $FilePath$-rn means we only want the messages, not the other report gubbings. -f parseable means that it produces something that IntelliJ can parse. $FilePath$ is the full path to the current file.
Working directory
$PyInterpreterDirectory$ – tells Pylint to run from the vitrualenv bin folder, rather than the IntelliJ project folder.

I also unchecked the Main menu and Project views options in the Show in section. Mainly as I only wanted the ability to right click within the currently open file and lint it. To lint whole folders, or the entire project, you’ll need to modify both Parameters and Working directory fields with the correct macros.

This was enough to get it working, but without hyperlinking the any lines with issues. To enable that, click on the Output filter… button and add a new filter:

IntelliJ Preferences Edit Tool Edit Filter

When you right click within a source file, you should now have a pylint option under the External Tools sub menu. Which should give you clickable links in the output.

IntelliJ Pylint Output


There is only one downside to the configuration outlined above. If you have a .pylintrc file in the root of your project, Pylint can’t find it. This is due to the working directory being set to $PyInterpreterDirectory$, rather than a macro that represents the source root.

Pylint has a specific search order for the .pylintrc file. So you can either use something like the PYLINTRC environment variable. Or, you could just add the location of the file in the Parameters field of the External Tools dialog:

-rn -f parseable --rcfile $ContentRoot$/.pylintrc $FilePath$

That did the trick for me. This means you can have your .pylintrc file under source code control, which is useful if different projects have different requirements.

Making sure IntelliJ uses the correct virtualenv

There is one extra step that you need to be aware of if you want this to work if you are using virtualenv. By default IntelliJ IDEA knows nothing about your virtualenv, so you need to add it as a new SDK for the project. Open the Project Structure dialog (⌘; on a Mac), and add the virtualenv as a new Python SDK. The n you should be up and away.

Data Visualisation: Getting Your Untappd Checkins

It goes without saying really, that if you want to visualise data, you need some data. As I mentioned in my last post, I have an Untappd API key, so have access to a data set that I’m quite interested in exploring. The following code isn’t an all singing, all dancing solution to getting hold of your Untappd checkins, it’s far too rough and ready for that. It does serve as a starting point though, we need data, this Python script gets us that data, we can come back later and improve it.

This isn’t the first Python script I’ve written, but it is the longest and most complicated, which gives an idea of just how much I’ve played with Python. To enable it to run you need to modify the script with your Untappd API access keys and the username of the Untappd user you want to get checkins for. You’ll also need a MongoDB instance, if it’s not running on the default port, then you’ll also need to modify the bit that creates the MongoDB client so it knows which port to use etc.

from pymongo import MongoClient
import requests
# Your Untappd details...
untappd_user = ''
untappd_client_id = ''
untappd_client_secret = ''
# Connect to the local MongoDB instance...
client = MongoClient()
db = client[untappd_user]
# Does the user have any checkins already...?
if 'checkins' in db.collection_names():
print 'Dropping previously slurped checkins...'
# Create a new collection so we can slurp checkins into it...
checkins = db.create_collection('checkins')
# We don't have any checkin info at the moment, so don't set the checkin max_id
max_id = None
# Connect to Untappd and pull down some checkins...
while True:
# These are the parameters we send every time...
parameters = {'client_id': untappd_client_id, 'client_secret': untappd_client_secret, 'limit': 50}
# Each time we go round the loop apply the max_id...
if max_id != None:
parameters['max_id'] = max_id
# Get some checkins...
r = requests.get('' + untappd_user, params=parameters)
json = r.json()
if json['meta']['code'] == 200:
# Update the max_id...
max_id = json['response']['pagination']['max_id']
# Load the checkins into mongo...
# If we didn't get 50 checkins then we're done, so break out...
count = json['response']['checkins']['count']
print "Inserting %i checkins into mongo..." % count
if count < 50:
print json['meta']['error_detail']
print "%s now has %i Untappd checkins in MongoDB..." % (untappd_user, checkins.count())
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So what could we improve on? The main thing would be to not throw away all the checkins we’ve already managed to add to the MongoDB each time the script is run, it should really just get those checkins that the user has made since the last run of the script. There is also no error handling, so if you run out of Untappd API calls, you’re limited to 100 per hour, it doesn’t handle the error response and inform you.

You can find all the code of this series of blogs in one of my GitHub repositories.

Data Visualisation

I’ve been meaning to write a bit about data visualisation for the last few months, but to be honest, brewing beer is far more fun to do and write about. Beer is something that is quite close to my heart, I love the stuff, it’s the best drink in the world as far as I’m concerned. You might be wondering why I’m going on about beer, when I’m supposed to be talking about data visualisation though. It just happens that I use a website/mobile app called Untappd, to log what beer I drink and where and when I drank it. It also so happens that Untappd have a public API for interacting with their database, so I have a readily accessible dataset that I’m intimately familiar with.

I had a half hearted fiddle with the dataset of my beer drinking habits at the turn of the year, but I didn’t really do it properly, or to the extent I wanted to. I made a load of bubble graphs of various things, like which breweries had I drunk most beers from, that sort of thing. There wasn’t really any in depth analysis of when I drink beer, or how my beer drinking habits have changed since I started using the service though.

I’ve decided it’s about time to have a proper go at it and to learn a bit of Python while we’re at it. There will be a number of posts after this dealing with extracting the data with the Untappd API, mining the corpus to produce usable data sets and finally about how to visualise those sets. The posts will come when they come, hopefully there wont be too much of a gap between them.