|Title:||Minor API improvements for binary sequences|
|Author:||Nick Coghlan <ncoghlan at gmail.com>, Ethan Furman <ethan at stoneleaf.us>|
|Post-History:||2014-03-30 2014-08-15 2014-08-16 2016-06-07 2016-09-01|
- PEP Deferral
- Discourage use of current "zero-initialised sequence" behaviour
- Addition of explicit "count and byte initialised sequence" constructors
- Addition of "bchr" function and explicit "single byte" constructors
- Addition of "getbyte" method to retrieve a single byte
- Addition of optimised iterator methods that produce bytes objects
- Design discussion
- Open Questions
During the initial development of the Python 3 language specification, the core bytes type for arbitrary binary data started as the mutable type that is now referred to as bytearray. Other aspects of operating in the binary domain in Python have also evolved over the course of the Python 3 series.
This PEP proposes five small adjustments to the APIs of the bytes and bytearray types to make it easier to operate entirely in the binary domain:
- Discourage passing single integer values to bytes and bytearray
- Add bytes.fromsize and bytearray.fromsize alternative constructors
- Add bytes.fromord and bytearray.fromord alternative constructors
- Add bytes.getbyte and bytearray.getbyte byte retrieval methods
- Add bytes.iterbytes and bytearray.iterbytes alternative iterators
And one built-in:
This PEP has been deferred until Python 3.9 at the earliest, as the open questions aren't currently expected to be resolved in time for the Python 3.8 feature addition deadline in May 2019 (if you're keen to see these changes implemented and are willing to drive that resolution process, contact the PEP authors).
Currently, the bytes and bytearray constructors accept an integer argument and interpret it as meaning to create a zero-initialised sequence of the given size:
>>> bytes(3) b'\x00\x00\x00' >>> bytearray(3) bytearray(b'\x00\x00\x00')
This PEP proposes to update the documentation to discourage making use of that input type dependent behaviour in Python 3.9, suggesting to use a new, more explicit, bytes.fromsize(n) or bytearray.fromsize(n) spelling instead (see next section).
However, the current handling of numeric inputs in the default constructors would remain in place indefinitely to avoid introducing a compatibility break.
No other changes are proposed to the existing constructors.
To replace the now discouraged behaviour, this PEP proposes the addition of an explicit fromsize alternative constructor as a class method on both bytes and bytearray whose first argument is the count, and whose second argument is the fill byte to use (defaults to \x00):
>>> bytes.fromsize(3) b'\x00\x00\x00' >>> bytearray.fromsize(3) bytearray(b'\x00\x00\x00') >>> bytes.fromsize(5, b'\x0a') b'\x0a\x0a\x0a\x0a\x0a' >>> bytearray.fromsize(5, b'\x0a') bytearray(b'\x0a\x0a\x0a\x0a\x0a')
fromsize will behave just as the current constructors behave when passed a single integer, while allowing for non-zero fill values when needed.
Similar to str.center, str.ljust, and str.rjust, both parameters would be positional-only with no externally visible name.
As binary counterparts to the text chr function, this PEP proposes the addition of a bchr function and an explicit fromord alternative constructor as a class method on both bytes and bytearray:
>>> bchr(ord("A")) b'A' >>> bchr(ord(b"A")) b'A' >>> bytes.fromord(65) b'A' >>> bytearray.fromord(65) bytearray(b'A')
These methods will only accept integers in the range 0 to 255 (inclusive):
>>> bytes.fromord(512) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module> ValueError: integer must be in range(0, 256) >>> bytes.fromord(1.0) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module> TypeError: 'float' object cannot be interpreted as an integer
While this does create some duplication, there are valid reasons for it:
- the bchr builtin is to recreate the ord/chr/unichr trio from Python 2 under a different naming scheme (however, see the Open Questions section below)
- the class method is mainly for the bytearray.fromord case, with bytes.fromord added for consistency
The documentation of the ord builtin will be updated to explicitly note that bchr is the primary inverse operation for binary data, while chr is the inverse operation for text data, and that bytes.fromord and bytearray.fromord also exist.
Behaviourally, bytes.fromord(x) will be equivalent to the current bytes([x]) (and similarly for bytearray). The new spelling is expected to be easier to discover and easier to read (especially when used in conjunction with indexing operations on binary sequence types).
As a separate method, the new spelling will also work better with higher order functions like map.
This PEP proposes that bytes and bytearray gain the method getbyte which will always return bytes:
>>> b'abc'.getbyte(0) b'a'
If an index is asked for that doesn't exist, IndexError is raised:
>>> b'abc'.getbyte(9) Traceback (most recent call last): File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module> IndexError: index out of range
This PEP proposes that bytes and bytearray gain an optimised iterbytes method that produces length 1 bytes objects rather than integers:
for x in data.iterbytes(): # x is a length 1 ``bytes`` object, rather than an integer
>>> tuple(b"ABC".iterbytes()) (b'A', b'B', b'C')
Zero-initialised sequences can be created via sequence repetition:
>>> b'\x00' * 3 b'\x00\x00\x00' >>> bytearray(b'\x00') * 3 bytearray(b'\x00\x00\x00')
However, this was also the case when the bytearray type was originally designed, and the decision was made to add explicit support for it in the type constructor. The immutable bytes type then inherited that feature when it was introduced in PEP 3137.
This PEP isn't revisiting that original design decision, just changing the spelling as users sometimes find the current behaviour of the binary sequence constructors surprising. In particular, there's a reasonable case to be made that bytes(x) (where x is an integer) should behave like the bytes.fromord(x) proposal in this PEP. Providing both behaviours as separate class methods avoids that ambiguity.
This is for consistency with the other methods on the affected types, and to avoid having to devise sensible names for them.
- Given the "multiple ways to do it" outcome, is the proposed bchr builtin actually worth adding, or is ord/bytes.fromord/chr a sufficiently straightforward replacement for the Python 2 ord/chr/unichr operations?
- Do we add iterbytes to memoryview, or modify memoryview.cast() to accept 's' as a single-byte interpretation? Or do we ignore memoryview for now and add it later?
|||Initial March 2014 discussion thread on python-ideas (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2014-March/027295.html)|
|||Guido's initial feedback in that thread (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2014-March/027376.html)|
|||Issue proposing moving zero-initialised sequences to a dedicated API (http://bugs.python.org/issue20895)|
|||Issue proposing to use calloc() for zero-initialised binary sequences (http://bugs.python.org/issue21644)|
|||August 2014 discussion thread on python-dev (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/2014-March/027295.html)|
|||June 2016 discussion thread on python-dev (https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-dev/2016-June/144875.html)|
This document has been placed in the public domain.