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In-place file processing

Project description

Project Status: Active - The project has reached a stable, usable state and is being actively developed. MIT License

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The in_place module provides Python classes for reading & writing a file “in-place”: data that you write ends up at the same filepath that you read from, and in_place takes care of all the necessary mucking about with temporary files for you.

For example, given the file somefile.txt:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

and the program

import in_place

with in_place.InPlace('somefile.txt') as fp:
    for line in fp:
        fp.write(''.join(c for c in line if c not in 'AEIOUaeiou'))

after running the program, somefile.txt will have been edited in place, reducing it to just:

'Tws brllg, nd th slthy tvs
    Dd gyr nd gmbl n th wb;
ll mmsy wr th brgvs,
    nd th mm rths tgrb.

and no sign of those pesky vowels remains! If you want a sign of those pesky vowels to remain, you can instead save the file’s original contents in, say, somefile.txt~ by constructing the filehandle with:

in_place.InPlace('somefile.txt', backup_ext='~')

or save to someotherfile.txt with:

in_place.InPlace('somefile.txt', backup='someotherfile.txt')

Compared to the in-place filtering implemented by the Python standard library’s fileinput module, in_place offers the following benefits:

  • Instead of hijacking sys.stdout, a new filehandle is returned for writing.

  • The filehandle supports all of the standard I/O methods, not just readline().

  • There are options for setting the encoding, encoding error handling, and newline policy for opening the file, along with support for opening files in binary mode, and these options apply to both input and output.

  • The complete filename of the backup file can be specified; you aren’t constrained to just adding an extension.

  • When used as a context manager, in_place will restore the original file if an exception occurs.

  • The creation of temporary files won’t silently clobber innocent bystander files.


Just use pip (You have pip, right?) to install in_place and its dependencies:

pip install in_place

Basic Usage

in_place provides three classes:

  • InPlaceText, for working with text files (reading & writing unicode objects in Python 2, str objects in Python 3)

  • InPlaceBytes, for working with binary files (reading & writing str objects in Python 2, bytes objects in Python 3)

  • InPlace, for just calling open() and reading & writing whatever the current Python’s str type is

All of the classes’ constructors take the following arguments:

name=<PATH> (required)

The path to the file to open & edit in-place


If set, the original contents of the file will be saved to the given path when the instance is closed.


If set, the path to the backup file will be created by appending backup_ext to the original file path.

backup and backup_ext are mutually exclusive. backup_ext cannot be set to the empty string.


By default, the instance is opened (including creating temporary files and so forth) as soon as it’s created. Setting delay_open=True disables this; the instance must then be opened either via the open() method or by using it as a context manager.


If True, move the input file to a temporary location first and create the output file in its place (à la fileinput) rather than the default behavior of creating the output file at a temporary location and only moving things around once close() is called (à la GNU sed(1)).

The InPlaceText constructor additionally accepts the optional arguments encoding, errors, and newline, which are passed straight through to for both reading and writing.

Once open, in_place instances act as filehandles with the usual filehandle attributes, specifically:

__iter__()              close()                 closed
flush()                 name                    read()
readall() *             readinto() *            readline()
readlines()             write()                 writelines()

* InPlaceBytes only

The classes also feature the following new or modified attributes:


Open the instance, creating filehandles for reading & writing. This method must be called first before any of the other I/O methods can be used. It is normally called automatically upon instance initialization unless delay_open was set to True. A ValueError is raised if this method is called more than once in an instance’s lifetime.


Close filehandles and move files to their final destinations. If called after the filhandle has already been closed, close() does nothing.

Be sure to always close your instances when you’re done with them by calling close() or rollback() either explicity or implicitly (i.e., via use as a context manager).


Like close(), but discard the output data (keeping the original file intact) instead of replacing the original file with it

__enter__(), __exit__()

When an in_place instance is used as a context manager, it will be opened (if not open already) on entering and either closed (if all went well) or rolled back (if an exception occurred) on exiting. in_place context managers are not reusable but are reentrant (as long as no further operations are performed after the innermost context ends).


The actual filehandle that data is read from, in case you need to access it directly


The actual filehandle that data is written to, in case you need to access it directly

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