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module for writing practical python one-liners

Project description


This module tries to improve Python's usefulness as a tool for writing
shell one-liners.


.. code-block:: bash

# show line numbers
python -m oneliner -ne "%5d: %s" % (NR, _) < input

# convert unix timestamp to something more human readable
date +%s | pyl -j ' => ' -line '_, datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp(int(_))'
# 1355256353 => 2012-12-11 22:05:53

# triple space a file
pyl -ne 'line + "\n"*2' < input

# double space only non-blank lines:
pyl -ne '_ if re.match("^$", _) else _+"\n"'


Python is a wonderful general purpose scripting language, with a great
breadth of excellent libraries and modules. While the simplicity of
its syntax is a major strong point, I believe that the negative
attitude towards *syntax magic* has prevented Python from gaining a
useful mode for writing shell one-liners. When stacked against Ruby
and Perl, Python is ill-equipped to be a part of a shell pipeline.
Writing one-liners is possible, but the verbosity of the resulting
code makes them impractical. This can be attributed to the following

1) Lack of *read-print-loop* command line options. Ruby and Perl
provide the ``-n`` and ``-p`` switches that makes them assume the
following loop around code::

for line in sys.stdin:
if '-p' in options:

2) No *syntax magic* and no *special variables*. Ruby and Perl provide
a multitude of cryptic, yet useful variables such as::

$_ last input line
$. current input line number
$~ the match object returned by the last successful pattern match
$& the string matched by last successful pattern match
$3 the string matched by the 3rd group of the last successful pattern match
$* sys.argv
$> sys.stdout (default output file)
$< sys.stdint (default input file)
$; input field separator (default value to str.split())
$/ record separator (os.linesep)
$$ os.getpid()

See English.rb_ or English.pm_ for more information.

3) Lack of a flexible command line import mechanism. Perl has the
``-M`` options::

perl -MDigest::MD5=md5_hex => from Digest::MD5 import md5_hex
perl -MDigest::MD5 => import Digest::MD5

While Python has the ``-m`` command line option, it is not suitable
for the task at hand. For example, the following one-liner will run
`random's`_ test suite, instead of producing a random number::

python -m random -c "print(random.randint(10))"

An example demonstrating these points:

.. code-block:: bash

# convert a date to a unix timestamp (using strptime)
ruby -rdate -pe '$_=Date.strptime($_, "%Y-%m-%d").strftime("%s")'
perl -MTime::Piece -pe '$_=Time::Piece->strptime($_, "%Y-%m-%d\n")->epoch()'
python -c 'import sys,datetime; [sys.stdout.write(datetime.datetime.strptime("%Y-%m-%d", i).strftime("%s") for i in sys.stdin]'

But why would anyone want to write one-liners in Python, given these
disadvantages and the available alternatives? I believe that when
doing interactive work on the shell, the first solution that comes to
mind is usually good enough. If that solution is a Python one, why not
use it?

A Solution

Python comes with all the building blocks needed to implement a
practical means of writing one-liners. This module tries to address
the issues outlined above. The command line interface is kept as close
as that of Ruby and Perl as reasonable.

1) To help with the processing of input and output, *python-oneliner*
provides the the ``-n``, ``-p`` and ``-l`` command line switches.

* ``-n``: assume the following loop around expressions or
statements (the distinction will be clarified later)::

for line in sys.stdin:

* ``-p``: like ``-n``, but write the value of ``line`` to stdout at
end of each iteration::

for line in sys.stdin:

* ``-l``: automatic line-ending processing. Roughly equivalent to::

for line in sys.stdin:
line = line.strip(os.linesep)

2) Make the following list of *special variables* available in the
local namespace of each one-liner:

* ``line``, ``L``, ``_``: The current input line. Unless the ``-l``
switch is given, the line separatator will be a part of this

* ``words``, ``W``: Corresponds to the value of
``re.split(delimiter, line)`` where delimiter is the value of the
``-d`` option. Defaults to ``\s+``.

The ``words`` list will return an empty string instead of
throwing an ``IndexError`` when a non-existent item is
referenced. This behavior is similar to that of arrays in Ruby
and field variables in Awk.

Instead of raising ``IndexError``, the ``words`` list will return
an empty string. This is similar

* ``NR``: Current input line number.

* ``FN``: Current input file name. If oneliner is processing input
from stdin ``FN = <stdin>``, otherwise it corresponds to the
current input file given on the command liner. Example::

echo example | python -m oneliner -ne '"%s:%s\t %s" % (FN, NL, L)'
=> <stdin>:1 example

python -m oneliner -ne '"%s:%s\t %s" % (FN, NL, L)' example.txt
=> example1.txt:1 line 1

3) Provide the ``-m`` and ``-M`` options and a mini-language for
specifying imports. This is best illustrated by the following

-m os,sys,re,pickle => import os, sys, re, pickle
-m os -m sys -m re => import os, sys, re
-m os sys re pickle => import os, sys, re, pickle
-m os.path.[*] => from os.path import *
-m os.path.[join,exists] => from os.path import join, exists
-m subprocess=sub => import subprocess as sub
-m datetime.[datetime=dt] => from datetime import datetime as dt
-M os.path => from os.path import *


The latest stable version of *python-oneliner* is available on pypi,
while the development version can be installed from github:

.. code-block:: bash

$ pip install oneliner # latest stable version
$ pip install git+git:// # latest development version

Alternatively, you can install it manually like any other python package:

.. code-block:: bash

$ git clone
$ cd python-oneliner
$ git reset --hard HEAD $versiontag
$ python install


* Support one-liners that don't deal with input/output only. If ``-n``
or ``-p`` are not given, *python-oneliner* should behave mostly as
``python -c`` does.

* Persistent variables in statement one-liners.

* The result of an expression one-liner is always written to stdout
(even if ``-n``).

* Define the behaviour of multiple expression/statements specified on
the command line.

* Some means of emulating ``BEGIN`` and ``END`` (perhaps a ``-b`` and
``-d`` flag?)

* Add more examples.

* Tests.

Similar Projects

* Pyp_

* Pyle_


*Python-oneliner* is released under the terms of the `New BSD License`_.

.. _English.rb:
.. _random's:
.. _Pyp:
.. _Pyle:
.. _`NEW BSD License`:

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