[Python-Dev] ANN: byteplay - a bytecode assembler/disassembler

Noam Raphael noamraph at gmail.com
Mon Aug 14 21:18:45 CEST 2006


I wanted to tell you that I wrote a Python bytecode
assembler/disassembler, and would be happy if people tried it and said
what they think.

I send this message to this list because this module deals with pretty
low-level Python, so I thought it might interest the audience here. If
I was wrong - please forgive me.

The idea is to define an object which is equivalent to Python's code
object, but which is easy to work with. To explain what I mean, I'll
show a quick example. We can define this stupid function:

>>> def f(a, b):
...     print (a, b)

We can convert it to an equivalent object, and see how it stores the byte code:

>>> from byteplay import *
>>> c = Code.from_code(f.func_code)
>>> from pprint import pprint; pprint(c.code)
[(SetLineno, 2),
 (LOAD_FAST, 'a'),
 (LOAD_FAST, 'b'),
 (PRINT_ITEM, None),
 (LOAD_CONST, None),

We can change the bytecode easily, and see what happens:

>>> c.code[3:3] = [(ROT_TWO, None)]
>>> f.func_code = c.to_code()
>>> f(3, 5)
(5, 3)

The idea is basically the same as that of Michael Hudson's
bytecodehacks, but this one works with Python 2.4 and 2.5. I also
think that it's simpler to use. I borrowed some code from Phillip J.
Eby's peak.util.assembler - the main difference between his package
and mine is that mine lets you play with existing bytecode, not only
create new code objects.

I learned a lot about Python's bytecode from writing this, and I think
that other may learn from it as well - I think it's much easier to
understand how code objects work by understanding equivalent objects
which were meant to be as simple as possible, instead of as fast as

I think it got pretty good testing - I patched __import__ so that
after a module is imported, all function objects (found by the gc
module) were disassembled and assembled again. I then managed to get
the complete test suite to pass!

You can download the module from
http://byteplay.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/byteplay.py . I wrote a
documentation (which goes into some length in purpose of explaining
how bytecode works). It's on the wiki:
http://wiki.python.org/moin/ByteplayDoc .

I even thought that it might get to the standard library, because it
seemed to me to be a pretty good documentation of bytecode details,
and because it has a pretty straightforward interface. It also makes
meddling with bytecode much less dangerous - for example, you can see
Raymond's original recipe for binding constants at compile time (I
reposted it at http://python.pastebin.com/768312) and how using
byteplay makes it simple (posted at http://python.pastebin.com/768318
so you can view the diff). But, of course - it's up to you. I will be
entirely satisfied if people simply find it useful.

Have a good day,

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