[Python-Dev] Why does base64 return bytes?

Daniel Holth dholth at gmail.com
Wed Jun 15 11:11:31 EDT 2016

It would be a codec. base64_text in the codecs module. Probably 1 line
different than the existing codec. Very easy to use and maintain. Less
surprising and less error prone for everyone who thinks base64 should
convert between bytes to text. Sounds like an obvious win to me.

On Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 11:08 AM Isaac Morland <ijmorlan at uwaterloo.ca>

> On Wed, 15 Jun 2016, Greg Ewing wrote:
> > Simon Cross wrote:
> >> If we only support one, I would prefer it to be bytes since (bytes ->
> >> bytes -> unicode) seems like less overhead and slightly conceptually
> >> clearer than (bytes -> unicode -> bytes),
> >
> > Whereas bytes -> unicode, followed if needed by unicode -> bytes,
> > seems conceptually clearer to me. IOW, base64 is conceptually a
> > bytes-to-text transformation, and the usual way to represent
> > text in Python 3 is unicode.
> And in CPython, do I understand correctly that the output text would be
> represented using one byte per character?  If so, would there be a way of
> encoding that into UTF-8 that re-used the raw memory that backs the
> Unicode object?  And, therefore, avoids almost all the inefficiency of
> going via Unicode?  If so, this would be a win - proper use of Unicode to
> represent a text string, combined with instantaneous conversion into a
> bytes object for the purpose of writing to the OS.
> Isaac Morland           CSCF Web Guru
> DC 2619, x36650         WWW Software Specialist
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