[Python-Dev] PEP: Extending the buffer protocol to share array information.

Chris Barker Chris.Barker at noaa.gov
Wed Nov 1 20:20:47 CET 2006

Martin v. Löwis <martin <at> v.loewis.de> writes:

> Can you please give examples for real-world applications of this
> interface, preferably examples involving multiple
> independently-developed libraries?

OK -- here's one I haven't seen in this thread yet:

wxPython has a lot code to translate between various Python data types and wx 
data types. An example is PointList Helper. This code examines the input 
Python data, and translates it to a wxList of wxPoints. It is used in a bunch 
of the drawing functions, for instance. It has some nifty optimizations so 
that if a python list if (x,y) tuples is passed in, then the code uses 
PyList_GetItem() to access the tuples, for instance.

If an Nx2 numpy array is passed in, it defaults to PySequence_GetItem() to get 
the (x,y) pair, and then again to get the values, which are converted to 
Python numbers, then checked and converted again to C ints.

The results is an awful lot of processing, even though the data in the numpy 
array already exists in a C array that could be exactly the same as the wxList 
of wxPoints (in fact, many of the drawing methods take a pointer to a 
correctly formatted C array of data).

Right now, it is faster to convert your numpy array of points to a python list 
of tuples first, then pass it in to wx.

However, were there a standard way to describe a buffer (pointer to a C array 
of data), then the PointListHelper code could look to see if the data is 
already correctly formated, and pass the pointer right through. If it was not 
it could still do the translation (like from doubles to ints, for instance) 
far more efficiently.

When I get the chance, I do intend to contribute code to support this in 
wxPython, using the numpy array interface. However, wouldn't it be better for 
it to support a generic interface that was in the standard lib, rather than 
only numpy?

While /F suggested we get off the PIL bandwagon, I do have code that has to 
pass data around between numpy, PIL and wx.Images ( and matplotlib AGG 
buffers, and GDAL geo-referenced image buffers, and ...). Most do support the 
current buffer protocol, so it can be done, but I'd be much happier if there 
was a little more checking going on, rather than my python code having to make 
sure the data is all arranged in memory the right way.

Oh, there is also the Python Cartographic Library, which can take a Python 
list of tuples as coordinates, and to a Projection on them, but which can't 
take a numpy array holding that same data.


More information about the Python-Dev mailing list