Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

AttributeError: module ‘PIL’ has no attribute ‘Image’

11th March 2024

One of my websites has an online photo gallery. This has been a long-term activity that has taken several forms over the years. Once HTML and JavaScript based, it then was powered by Perl before PHP and MySQL came along to take things from there.

While that remains how it works, the publishing side of things has used its own selection of mechanisms over the same time span. Perl and XML were the backbone until Python and Markdown took over. There was a time when ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick handled image processing, but Python now does that as well.

That was when the error message gracing the title of this post came to my notice. Everything was working well when executed in Spyder, but the message appears when I tried running things using Python on the command line. PIL is the abbreviated name for the Python 3 pillow package; there was one called PIL in the Python 2 days.

For me, pillow loads, resizes and creates new images, which is handy for adding borders and copyright/source information to each image as well as creating thumbnails. All this happens in memory and that makes everything go quickly, much faster than disk-based tools like ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick.

Of course, nothing is going to happen if the package cannot be loaded, and that is what the error message is about. Linux is what I mainly use, so that is the context for this scenario. What I was doing was something like the following in the Python script:

import PIL

Then, I referred to PIL.Image when I needed it, and this could not be found when the script was run from the command line (BASH). The solution was to add something like the following:

from PIL import Image

That sorted it, and I must have run into trouble with PIL.ImageFilter too, since I now load it in the same manner. In both cases, I could just refer to Image or ImageFilter as I required and without the dot syntax. However, you need to make sure that there is no clash with anything in another loaded Python package when doing this.

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