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The hyphenation library of LibreOffice and FireFox wrapped for Python

Project description

  1. 2008-2017 Dr. Leo


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0. Quickstart

$ pip install pyhyphen
$ echo "long sentences and complicated words are flabbergasting" | wraptext -w 10 -
long sen-
tences and
words are

1. Overview

PyHyphen is a pythonic interface to the hyphenation C library used in software such as LibreOffice and the Mozilla suite. It comes with tools to download, install and uninstall hyphenation dictionaries from LibreOffice’s Git repository. PyHyphen provides the ‘hyphen’ and ‘textwrap2’ packages as well as, a script which wraps a text-file with hyphenation given a specified width. See the code example under “Quick start” above.

PyHyphen supports Python 2.7 and 3.4 or higher, perhaps Python 3.3 works as well. If you depend on earlier 2.x versions, use PyHyphen-1.0b1 instead. In this case you may have to download hyphenation dictionaries manually.

1.1 Content of the hyphen package

The ‘hyphen’ package contains the following:

  • the class hyphen.Hyphenator: each instance of it can hyphenate and wrap words using a dictionary compatible with the hyphenation feature of LibreOffice and Mozilla. Required dictionaries are automatically downloaded at runtime.
  • the module dictools contains useful functions such as for downloading and installing dictionaries from a configurable repository. After installation of PyHyphen, the LibreOffice repository is used by default.
  • ‘hyphen.hnj’ is the C extension module that does all the ground work. It contains the high quality C library libhyphen. It supports hyphenation with replacements as well as compound words.

1.2 The module ‘textwrap2’

This module is an enhanced, though backwards-compatible version of the module ‘textwrap’ from the Python standard library. Unsurprisingly, it adds hyphenation functionality to ‘textwrap’. To this end, a new key word parameter ‘use_hyphenator’ has been added to the __init__ method of the TextWrapper class which defaults to None. It can be initialized with any hyphenator object. Note that until version 0.7 this keyword parameter was named ‘use_hyphens’. So older code may need to be changed.’

2. Code examples

>>> from hyphen import Hyphenator
# Create some hyphenators
h_de = Hyphenator('de_DE')
h_en = Hyphenator('en_US')

# Now hyphenate some words
# Note: the following examples are written in Python 3.x syntax.
# If you use Python 2.x, you must add the 'u' prefixes as Hyphenator methods expect unicode strings.

[['beau', 'tiful'], [u'beauti', 'ful']]

h_en.wrap('beautiful', 6)
['beau-', 'tiful']

h_en.wrap('beautiful', 7)
['beauti-', 'ful']

['beau', 'ti', 'ful']

>>> from textwrap2 import fill
print fill('very long text...', width=40, use_hyphenator=h_en)

Just by creating Hyphenator objects for a language, the corresponding dictionaries will be automatically downloaded. Dictionaries may be manually installed and listed with the dictools module:

>>> from hyphen.dictools import *

# Download and install some dictionaries in the default directory using the default
# repository, usually the LibreOffice website
>>> for lang in ['de_DE', 'en_US']:

# Show locales of installed dictionaries
>>> list_installed()
['de', 'de_DE', 'en_PH', 'en_US']

3. Installation

PyHyphen is pip-installable. In most scenarios the easiest way to install PyHyphen is to type from the shell prompt:

$ pip install pyhyphen

Besides the source distribution, there are wheels on PyPI for common Windows-based environments. So most Windows users can install PyHyphen without a C compiler.

Building PyHyphen from source under Linux may require root privileges.

4. Managing dictionaries

The dictools module contains a non-exhaustive list of available language strings that can be used to instautiate Hyphenator objects as shown above:

>>>from hyphen import dictools
['af_ZA', 'an_ES', 'ar', 'be_BY', 'bg_BG', 'bn_BD', 'br_FR', 'ca', 'cs_C
Z', 'da_DK', 'de', 'el_GR', 'en', 'es_ES', 'et_EE', 'fr_FR', 'gd_GB', 'gl', 'gu_
IN', 'he_IL', 'hi_IN', 'hr_HR', 'hu_HU', 'it_IT', 'ku_TR', 'lt_LT', 'lv_LV', 'ne
_NP', 'nl_NL', 'no', 'oc_FR', 'pl_PL', 'prj', 'pt_BR', 'pt_PT', 'ro', 'ru_RU', '
si_LK', 'sk_SK', 'sl_SI', 'sr', 'sv_SE', 'sw_TZ', 'te_IN', 'th_TH', 'uk_UA', 'zu

The downloaded dictionary files are stored in a local data folder, along with a dictionaries.json file that lists the downloaded files and the associated locales:

$ ls ~/.local/share/pyhyphen
dictionaries.json  hyph_de_DE.dic  hyph_en_US.dic

$ cat ~/.local/share/pyhyphen/dictionaries.json
  "de": {
    "file": "hyph_de_DE.dic",
    "url": ""
  "de_DE": {
    "file": "hyph_de_DE.dic",
    "url": ""
  "en_PH": {
    "file": "hyph_en_US.dic",
    "url": ""
  "en_US": {
    "file": "hyph_en_US.dic",
    "url": ""

Each entry of the dictionaries.json file contains both the path to the dictionary file and the url from which it was downloaded.

5. Contributing and reporting bugs

Questions can be asked in the Google group ( Or just send an e-mail to the authors.

Browse or fork the Mercurial repository and report bugs at PyHyphen’s project site on bitbucket.

Before submitting a PR, , run the unit tests on Python 2 and 3, e.g., with pytest.

6. License

Without prejudice to third party licenses, PyHyphen is distributed under the Apache 2.0 license. PyHyphen ships with third party code including the hyphenation library hyphen.c and a patched version of the Python standard module textwrap.

7. Changelog

New in Version 3.0.1:

Fix source distribution which did not include C header files.

New in Version 3.0.0:

  • lazy dictionary install at runtime
  • switch to user-specific data directory for storing dictionaries
  • unit tests
  • migration from distutils to setuptools and simplified setup
  • get rid of config module and config scripts
  • upgrade textwrap2 to latest python2 and python3 versions; add CLI script to wrap text files with hyphenation
  • improve detection of dictionary location
  • Remove Windows binaries from the source distribution. Provide wheels instead thanks to the awesome cibuildwheel tool.

New in Version 2.0.9:

  • add support for Python 3.6

New in Version 2.0.8:

  • fix python 3 install
  • fix install from source

New in Version 2.0.7:

  • add win binary for AMD64, win27
  • make it pip-installable (PR1)
  • minor fixes

New in Version 2.0.5:

  • remove pre-compiled win32 C extension for Python 2.6, add one for Python 3.4
  • avoid unicode error in while installing on some Windows systems

New in Version 2.0.4:

  • Update C library to v2.8.6

New in Version 2.0.2:

  • minor bugfixes and refactorings

New in Version 2.0.1:

  • updated URL for LibreOffice’s dictionaries
  • no longer attempt to hyphenate uppercased words such as ‘LONDON’. This feature had to be dropped to work around a likely bug in the C extension which, under Python 3.3, caused the hyphenator to return words starting with a capital letter as lowercase.

New in Version 2.0

The hyphen.dictools module has been completely rewritten. This was required by the switch from OpenOffice to LibreOffice which does no longer support the old formats for dictionaries and meta data. these changes made it impossible to release a stable v1.0. The new dictionary management is more flexible and powerful. There is now a registry for locally installed hyphenation dictionaries. Each dictionary can have its own file path. It is thus possible to add persistent metadata on pre-existing hyphenation dictionaries, e.g. from a LibreOffice installation. Each dictionary and hence Hyphenator can now be associated with multiple locales such as for ‘en_US’ and ‘en_NZ’. These changes cause some backwards-incompatible API changes. Further changes are:

  • is of a container type for ‘url’, ‘locales’ and ‘filepath’ of the dictionary.
  • the Hyphenator.language attribute deprecated in v1.0 has been removed
  • download and install dictionaries from LibreOffice’s git repository by default
  • dictools.install(‘xx_YY’) will install all dictionaries found for the ‘xx’ language and associate them with all relevant locales as described in the dictionaries.xcu file in LibreOffice’s git repository.
  • upgraded the C library libhyphen to v2.8.3
  • use lib2to3 instead of separate code bases
  • dropped support for Python 2.4 and 2.5
  • support Python 3.3

New in version 1.0

  • Upgraded the C library libhyphen to v2.7 which brings significant improvements, most notably correct treatment of already hyphenated words such as ‘Python-powered’
  • use a CSV file from the oo website with meta information on dictionaries for installation of dictionaries and instantiation of hyphenators. Apps can access the metadata on all downloadable dicts through the new module-level attribute hyphen.dict_info or for each hyphenator through the ‘info’ attribute,
  • Hyphenator objects have a ‘info’ attribute which is a Python dictionary with meta information on the hyphenation dictionary. The ‘language’ attribute is deprecated. Note: These new features add complexity to the installation process as the metadata and dictionary files are downloaded at install time. These features have to be tested in various environments before declaring the package stable.
  • Streamlined the installation process
  • The en_US hyphenation dictionary has been removed from the package. Instead, the dictionaries for en_US and the local language are automatically downloaded at install time.
  • restructured the package and merged 2.x and 3.x setup files
  • switch from svn to hg
  • added win32 binary of the C extension module for Python32, currently no binaries for Python 2.4 and 2.5

New in version 0.10

  • added win32 binary for Python 2.7
  • renamed ‘hyphenator’ class to to more conventional ‘Hyphenator’. ‘hyphenator’ is deprecated.

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