Idiomatic portable way to strip line endings?

Chris Barker chrishbarker at
Mon Dec 17 15:33:46 EST 2001

John Roth wrote:
> These are two different cases, although it does come
> up in practice if you're importing files from the internet.
> Some browsers will fix the line endings, and some won't.
> I had a lot of files with Unix line endings that I had to
> convert to Windows line endings because Notepad
> will not handle Unix line endings. At all.

It can be worse than that. If someone got a file off the web with the
line endings that were not native to their system and then edited it in
an editor that is not very smart, you could have mixed line endings.

To deal with all these problems (which become perhaps more common on Mac
OS-X), there was discussion on python-dev about creating a "Universal
Text File" type that would read files with any mixed combination of
*nix, DOS and Mac line endings (and maybe do something smart on VMS as
well). The goal would be able to have it work with Python code as well
as files opened with open(), and also on pipes and other text streams.

I know Guido, Jack Jansen and I had some discussion about it, and I
think Jack put a little work into it, but I'm not sure where it sits. I
don't have the C skills to make it happen myself. My solution was to
write a module in Python to handle this. It's not all that fast, not
that well tested, and doesn't (yet) support xreadlines(), but it is
working just fine for me in production code. My web page got killed when
@home went out of business, but it's not too big so I'll include it
here. Comments, bug reports, and especially improvements and fixes



#!/usr/bin/env python

""" : a module that provides a UniversalTextFile class, and a
replacement for the native python "open" command that provides an
interface to that class.

It would usually be used as:

from TextFile import open

then you can use the new open just like the old one (with some added
flags and arguments)


import TextFile

file =,flags,[bufsize], [LineEndingType],

please send bug reports, helpful hints,  and/or feature requests to:

Chris Barker

ChrisHBarker at

Copywrite/license is the same as whatever version of python you are

import os

## Re-map the open function
_OrigOpen = open

def open(filename,flags = "",bufsize = -1, LineEndingType = "",
LineBufferSize = ""):
    A new open function, that returns a regular python file object for
    the old calls, and returns a new nifty universal text file when

    This works just like the regular open command, except that a new
    flag and a new parameter has been added.


    file = open(filename,flags = "",bufsize = -1, LineEndingType = ""):
    - filename is the name of the file to be opened
    - flags is a string of one letter flags, the same as the standard
      command, plus a "t" for universal text file.
    - - "b" means binary file, this returns the standard binary file
    - - "t" means universal text file
    - - "r" for read only
    - - "w" for write. If there is both "w" and "t" than the user can
        specify a line ending type to be used with the LineEndingType
    - - "a" means append to existing file

    - bufsize specifies the buffer size to be used by the system. Same
      as the regular open function

    - LineEndingType is used only for writing (and appending) files, to
specify a
      non-native line ending to be written.
    - - The options are: "native", "DOS", "Posix", "Unix", "Mac", or the
        characters themselves( "\r\n", etc. ). "native" will result in
        using the standard file object, which uses whatever is native
        for the system that python is running on.

    - LineBufferSize is the size of the buffer used to read data in
    a readline() operation. The default is currently set to 200
    characters. If you will be reading files with many lines over 200
    characters long, you should set this number to the largest expected
    line length.


    if "t" in flags: # this is a universal text file
        if ("w" in flags or "a" in flags) and LineEndingType ==
            return _OrigOpen(filename,flags.replace("t",""), bufsize)
    else: # this is a regular old file
        return _OrigOpen(filename,flags,bufsize)
class UniversalTextFile:
    A class that acts just like a python file object, but has a mode
    that allows the reading of arbitrary formated text files, i.e. with
    either Unix, DOS or Mac line endings. [\n , \r\n, or \r]

    To keep it truly universal, it checks for each of these line ending
    possibilities at every line, so it should work on a file with mixed
    endings as well.

    def __init__(self,filename,flags = "",LineEndingType =
"native",LineBufferSize = ""):
        self._file = _OrigOpen(filename,flags.replace("t","")+"b")

        LineEndingType = LineEndingType.lower()
        if LineEndingType == "native":
            self.LineSep = os.linesep()
        elif LineEndingType == "dos":
            self.LineSep = "\r\n"
        elif LineEndingType == "posix" or LineEndingType == "unix" :
            self.LineSep = "\n"
        elif LineEndingType == "mac":
            self.LineSep = "\r"
            self.LineSep = LineEndingType
        ## some attributes
        self.closed = 0
        self.mode = flags
        self.softspace = 0
        if LineBufferSize:
            self._BufferSize = LineBufferSize
            self._BufferSize = 100

    def readline(self):
        start_pos = self._file.tell()
        ##print "Current file posistion is:", start_pos
        line = ""
        TotalBytes = 0
        Buffer =
        while Buffer:
            ##print "Buffer = ",repr(Buffer)
            newline_pos = Buffer.find("\n")
            return_pos  = Buffer.find("\r")
            if return_pos == newline_pos-1 and return_pos >= 0: # we
have a DOS line
                line = Buffer[:return_pos]+ "\n"
                TotalBytes = newline_pos+1
            elif ((return_pos < newline_pos) or newline_pos < 0 ) and
return_pos >=0: # we have a Mac line
                line = Buffer[:return_pos]+ "\n"
                TotalBytes = return_pos+1
            elif newline_pos >= 0: # we have a Posix line
                line = Buffer[:newline_pos]+ "\n"
                TotalBytes = newline_pos+1
            else: # we need a larger buffer
                NewBuffer =
                if NewBuffer:
                    Buffer = Buffer + NewBuffer
                else: # we are at the end of the file, without a line
           + len(Buffer))
                    return Buffer + TotalBytes)
        return line

    def readlines(self,sizehint = None):

        readlines acts like the regular readlines, except that it
        understands any of the standard text file line endings ("\r\n",
        "\n", "\r").

        If sizehint is used, it will read a a maximum of that many
        bytes. It will never round up, as the regular readline sometimes
        does. This means that if your buffer size is less than the
        length of the next line, you'll get an empty string, which could
        incorrectly be interpreted as the end of the file.

        if sizehint:
            Data =
            Data =

        if len(Data) == sizehint:
            #print "The buffer is full"
            FullBuffer = 1
            FullBuffer = 0
        Data = Data.replace("\r\n","\n").replace("\r","\n")
        Lines = [line + "\n" for line in Data.split('\n')]
        ## If the last line is only a linefeed it is an extra line
        if Lines[-1] == "\n":
            del Lines[-1]
        ## if it isn't then the last line didn't have a linefeed, so we
need to remove the one we put on.
            ## or it's the end of the buffer
            if FullBuffer:
      [-1])-1),1) # reset the file
                Lines[-1] = Lines[-1][:-1]
        return Lines

    def readnumlines(self,NumLines = 1):

        readnumlines is an extension to the standard file object. It
        returns a list containing the number of lines that are
        requested. I have found this to be very useful, and allows me
        to avoid the many loops like:

        lines = []
        for i in range(N):

        Also, If I ever get around to writing this in C, it will provide
a speed improvement.

        Lines = []
        while len(Lines) < NumLines:
        return Lines

    def read(self,size = None):
        read acts like the regular read, except that it tranlates any of
        the standard text file line endings ("\r\n", "\n", "\r") into a
        If size is used, it will read a maximum of that many bytes,
        before translation. This means that if the line endings have
        more than one character, the size returned will be smaller. This
        could be fixed, but it didn't seem worth it. If you want that
        much control, use a binary file.
        if size:
            Data =
            Data =
        return Data.replace("\r\n","\n").replace("\r","\n")
    def write(self,string):

        write is just like the regular one, except that it uses the line
          separator specified when the file was opened for writing or


    def writelines(self,list):
        for line in list:

    # The rest of the standard file methods mapped
    def close(self):
        self.closed = 1
    def flush(self):
    def fileno(self):
        return self._file.fileno()
    def seek(self,offset,whence = 0):,whence)
    def tell(self):
        return self._file.tell()

Christopher Barker,
ChrisHBarker at                ---           ---           ---
                                     ---@@       -----@@       -----@@
                                   ------@@@     ------@@@     ------@@@
Oil Spill Modeling                ------   @    ------   @   ------   @
Water Resources Engineering       -------      ---------     --------    
Coastal and Fluvial Hydrodynamics --------------------------------------

More information about the Python-list mailing list