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collist is a simple module which provides the function collist(), the single purpose of which is to columnate lists of output for printing to the terminal. It is very much like the unix command column, but it works on python iterables. This package also exports the command cols which is similar to column but works better (on my system), though it has fewer options; see cols --help.

The program uses the tput command internally, and therefore will not work with Windows and other strange, non-POSIX operation systems.

Monkey Patch collist into the Python Interactive Prompt

The Python interactive prompt print the representation of the return value of any expression you give it. If that return value is a list, dictionary, or tuple, It returns the literal that will produce the object.

When these collection objects get rather longer, printing them sucks. collist is designed to make lists of things look better. collist has a representation function which will output a nicely columnated repr of a python dictionary, list or tuple. This repr is a valid python literal.

In order to get this behavior in the standard interactive prompt or bpython, add this to your ~/.pystart:

import sys # if you haven't already.
from collist import displayhook

sys.displayhook = displayhook

Then, you’ll get nicely columnated list, tuples and dictionaries back in the interactive prompt.

>>> [i for i in ('foo bar bing ' * 15).split()]
['foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',
 'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',
 'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing',
 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',
 'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing', 'foo',
 'bar',  'bing', 'foo',  'bar',  'bing']

Nice! This is what the people want. There is a bug at the moment where the terminal size is stuck at whatever it was when the interactive prompt was started. I assume this has something to do with tput getting the terminal size from sterr, but I’m not really sure. If anyone has a fix, I will be glad to accept a patch.

Also this patch won’t work in ipython, since it has it’s own replacement for displayhook, of which I know nothing. It prints nicely already. kind of.

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