Developing with fsspec

Whereas the majority of the documentation describes the use of fsspec from the end-user’s point of view, fsspec is used by many libraries as the primary/only interface to file operations.

Clients of the library

The most common entrance point for libraries which wish to rely on fsspec will be open or open_files, as a way of generating an object compatible with the python file interface. This actually produces an OpenFile instance, which can be serialised across a network, and resources are only engaged when entering a context, e.g.

with"protocol://path", 'rb', param=value) as f:

Note the backend-specific parameters that can be passed in this call.

In cases where the caller wants to control the context directly, they can use the open method of the OpenFile, or get the filesystem object directly, skipping the OpenFile route. In the latter case, text encoding and compression are not handled for you. The file-like object can also be used as a context manager, or the close() method must be called explicitly to release resources.

# OpenFile route
of ="protocol://path", 'rb', param=value)
f =

# filesystem class route, context
fs = fsspec.filesystem("protocol", param=value)
with"path", "rb") as f:

# filesystem class route, explicit close
fs = fsspec.filesystem("protocol", param=value)
f ="path", "rb")

Implementing a backend

The class AbstractFileSystem provides a template of the methods that a potential implementation should supply, as well as default implementation of functionality that depends on these. Methods that could be implemented are marked with NotImplementedError or pass (the latter specifically for directory operations that might not be required for some backends where directories are emulated.

Note that not all of the methods need to be implemented: for example, some implementations may be read-only, in which case things like pipe, put, touch, rm, etc., can be left as not-implemented (or you might implement them and raise PermissionError, OSError 30 or some read-only exception).

We may eventually refactor AbstractFileSystem to split the default implementation, the set of methods that you might implement in a new backend, and the documented end-user API.

In order to register a new backend with fsspec, new backends should register themselves using the entry_points facility from setuptools. In particular, if you want to register a new filesystem protocol myfs which is provided by the MyFS class in the myfs package, add the following to your

        'fsspec.specs': [

Alternatively, the previous method of registering a new backend can be used. That is, new backends must register themselves on import (register_implementation) or post a PR to the fsspec repo asking to be included in fsspec.registry.known_implementations.

Implementing async

Starting in version 0.7.5, we provide async operations for some methods of some implementations. Async support in storage implementations is optional. Special considerations are required for async development, see Async.

Developing the library

The following can be used to install fsspec in development mode

git clone
cd filesystem_spec
pip install -e .[dev,doc,test]

A number of additional dependencies are required to run tests in full, see “ci/environment*.yml”, as well as Docker. Most implementation-specific tests should skip if their requirements are not met.

Development happens by submitting pull requests (PRs) on github. This repo adheres to flake8 and black coding conventions. You may wish to install commit hooks if you intend to make PRs, as linting is done as part of the CI.

Docs use sphinx and the numpy docstring style. Please add an entry to the changelog along with any PR.