[Python-Dev] Why can't I encode/decode base64 without importing a module?

Donald Stufft donald at stufft.io
Tue Apr 23 04:30:20 CEST 2013

On Apr 22, 2013, at 10:04 PM, Steven D'Aprano <steve at pearwood.info> wrote:

> On 23/04/13 09:16, Greg Ewing wrote:
>> Victor Stinner wrote:
>>> The last proposition is to add transform() and untransform() methods
>>> to bytes and str types. ... If I remember
>>> correctly, the missing point is how to define which types are
>>> supported by a codec
>> Also, for any given codec, which direction is "transform"
>> and which is "untransform"?
>> Also also, what's so special about base64 et al that they
>> deserve an ultra-special way of invoking them, instead of
>> having to import a class or function like you do for
>> *every* *other* piece of library functionality?
> As others have pointed out in the past, repeatedly, the codec system is completely general and can transform bytes->bytes and text->text just as easily as bytes<->text. Or indeed any bijection, as the docs for 2.7 point out. The question isn't "What's so special about base64?" The questions should be:
> - What's so special about exotic legacy transformations like ISO-8859-10 and MacRoman that they deserve a string method for invoking them?
> - Why have common transformations like base64, which worked in 2.x, been relegated to second-class status in 3.x?
> - If it is no burden to have to import a module and call an external function for some transformations, why have encode and decode methods at all?
> If you haven't read this, you should:
> http://lucumr.pocoo.org/2012/8/11/codec-confusion/

I may be dull, but it wasn't until I started using Python 3 that it really clicked in my head what encode/decode did exactly. In Python2 I just sort of sprinkled one or the other when there was errors until the pain stopped. I mostly attribute this to str.decode and bytes.encode not existing.

> -- 
> Steven
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Donald Stufft
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