Files in Python
In this part of the Python programming tutorial, we will talk about files.
Everything in Python is an object. Everything in UNIX is a file.
There are three basic I/O connections. Standard input, standard output and standard error. Standard input is the data that goes to the program. The standard input comes from a keyboard. Standard output is where we print our data with the print keyword. Unless redirected, it is the terminal console. The standard error is a stream where programs write their error messages. It is usually the text terminal.
Conforming to the UNIX philosophy, the standard I/O streams are file objects.
Standard input is the data that goes to the program.
#!/usr/bin/python # name.py import sys print 'Enter your name: ', name = '' while True: c = sys.stdin.read(1) if c == '\n': break name = name + c print 'Your name is:', name
In order to work with standard I/O streams, we must import the
read() method reads one character from the standard
input. In our example we get a prompt saying "Enter your name". We enter our name
and press Enter. The Enter key generates the
$ ./name.py Enter your name: Jan Your name is: Jan
For getting input we can use higher level functions:
input() function prints a prompt if it is given,
reads input and evaluates it.
#!/usr/bin/python # input.py data = input('Enter expression: ') print 'You have entered:', data
$ ./input.py Enter expression: 3*3 You have entered: 9
raw_input() prints a prompt if it is present.
The function then reads a line from input, converts it to a string (stripping
a trailing newline), and returns that.
#!/usr/bin/python # rawinput.py name = raw_input('Enter your name: ') print 'You have entered:', name
The standard output is where we print our data.
#!/usr/bin/python # stdout.py import sys sys.stdout.write('Honore de Balzac, Father Goriot\n') sys.stdout.write('Honore de Balzac, Lost Illusions\n')
In the example, we write some text to the standard output. This is in our
case the terminal console. We use the
$ ./stdout.py Honore de Balzac, Father Goriot Honore de Balzac, Lost Illusions
sys.stdout by default.
#!/usr/bin/python # printkeyw.py print 'Honore de Balzac, The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans' print 'Honore de Balzac, Gobseck'
We do not provide the
sys.stdout explicitly. It is done behind the scenes.
There is another form of the print keyword. If we want, we can use it to
write some data into a regular file.
#!/usr/bin/python # works.py f = open('works', 'w') print >> f, 'Beatrix' print >> f, 'Honorine' print >> f, 'The firm of Nucingen' f.close()
We open a file and write three titles of Balzac books into it. This form is also called print chevron.
$ cat works Beatrix Honorine The firm of Nucingen
File objects can be redirected. In the following example, we redirect the standard output to a regular file.
#!/usr/bin/python # redirect.py import sys f = open('output', 'w') sys.stdout = f print 'Lucien' sys.stdout.write('Rastignac\n') sys.stdout.writelines(['Camusot\n', 'Collin\n']) sys.stdout = sys.__stdout__ print 'Bianchon' sys.stdout.write('Lambert\n')
In the redirect.py script, we redirect a standard output to a regular file
called output. Then we restore the original standard output back. The original
value of the std.output is kept in a special
$ ./redirect.py Bianchon Lambert $ cat output Lucien Rastignac Camusot Collin
The open function
open() function is used to open files in our system.
open(filename, [mode='r'], [bufsize])
The filename is the name of the file to be opened. The mode indicates, how the file is going to be opened. For reading, writing, appending etc. The bufsize is an optional buffer. It specifies the file's desired buffer size: 0 means unbuffered, 1 means line buffered, any other positive value means use a buffer of that size. A negative bufsize means to use the system default. If omitted, the system default is used.
The file modes:
The following little script prints the contents of a file.
#!/usr/bin/python # wantme.py f = open('ifyouwantme', 'r') for line in f: print line, f.close()
We open a file in read mode. We traverse the contents of the file with the for loop. In the end, we close the file object.
$ ./wantme.py Are you really here or am I dreaming I can't tell dreams from truth for it's been so long since I have seen you I can hardly remember your face anymore When I get really lonely and the distance causes our silence I think of you smiling with pride in your eyes a lover that sighs ...
In the next example, we do the same. Now we use the
#!/usr/bin/python # wantme2.py f = open('ifyouwantme', 'r') while True: line = f.readline() if not line: break else: print line, f.close()
There is yet another simple way, how we can print the contents of a file.
readlines() method. The
reads all the contents of a file into the
memory. This is not applicable for very large files, though.
#!/usr/bin/python # wantme3.py f = open('ifyouwantme', 'r') contents = f.readlines() for i in contents: print i, f.close()
In the next example, we will demonstrate writing to a file. We will write a simple strophe into a regular file.
#!/usr/bin/python # strophe.py text = """Incompatible, it don't matter though 'cos someone's bound to hear my cry Speak out if you do You're not easy to find\n""" f = open('strophe', 'w') f.write(text) f.close()
This time we open the file in a w mode, so that we can write into it. If the file does not exist, it is created. If it exists, it is overwritten.
$ cat strophe Incompatible, it don't matter though 'cos someone's bound to hear my cry Speak out if you do You're not easy to find
The pickle module
So far, we have been working with simple textual data. What if we are
working with objects rather than simple text?
For such situations, we can use the
This module serializes Python objects. The Python
objects are converted into byte streams and written to text files.
This process is called pickling. The inverse operation, reading from a
file and reconstructing objects is called deserializing or unpickling.
#!/usr/bin/python # pickle.py import pickle class Person: def __init__(self, name, age): self.name = name self.age = age def getName(self): return self.name def getAge(self): return self.age person = Person('Monica', 15) print person.getName() print person.getAge() f = open('monica', 'w') pickle.dump(person, f) f.close() f = open('monica', 'r') monica = pickle.load(f) f.close() print monica.getName() print monica.getAge()
In our script, we define a Person class. We create one person. We pickle
the object using the
method. We close the file, open it again for reading. Unpickle the
object using the
$ ./monica.py Monica 15 Monica 15
$ file monica monica: ASCII text
The file to which we write is a simple text file.
In this part of the Python tutorial, we covered files.