ANN: shellwords.py 0.1
hartmut.goebel at noris.de
Wed Sep 11 12:08:09 EDT 2002
Parse a string into words like a POSIX shell does.
Why this module?
Out in the wild there are quite a few modules for executing commands
in a sub-process. Most of them take a string (the command-line) as
input and use os.exec* for executing the program. This requires
splitting the string into words _exacly_like_the_shell_ does.
If this parsing/splitting is incorrect you can have quite some funny
time debugging. ;-)
Since I didn't find found any other module that-like, I decided to
develop this module.
Benefits using this module
Using this module has the following benefits:
- Enables your application or module to mimic word splitting like a
POSIX shell without effort.
- Saves yourself debugginf-time then doing word-splitting.
- Avoids confusin the users of you application/module when splitting
shell command lines into words, since this module behaves _exactly_
like a POSIX shell does.
- The Unittest-Suite proves the correct word-splitting. Currently 75
command lines are used, each testing a special pattern. The input
data for this test-suite consists of command-lines which are split
ba the shell on-fly fly. You can add your own test-patterns without
This module parses a string into words according to the parings-rules
of a POSIX shell. These parsing rules are (quoted after 'man bash'):
1) Words are split at whitespace charakters; these are Space, Tab,
Newline, Carriage-Return, Vertival-Tab (0B) and Form-Feet (0C).
NB: Quotes do _not_ separate words! Thus
will be parsed into a single word:
2) A non-quoted backslash (\) is the escape character. It preserves
the literal value of the next character that follows.
3) Enclosing characters in single quotes preserves the literal value
of each character within the quotes. A single quote may not occur
between single quotes, even when preceded by a backslash.
This means: baskslash (\) has no special meaning within single
quotes. All charakters within single quotes are taken as-is.
4) Enclosing characters in double quotes preserves the literal value
of all characters within the quotes, with the exception of \. The
backslash retains its special meaning only when followed " or \. A
double quote may be quoted within double quotes by preceding it
with a backslash.
'shellwords' is available for download at
Requires Python >= 2.0
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Hey, there is 'shlex' coming with Python. Why there is a need for
A: I know 'shlex' and I gave it a try. But 'shlex' takes quotes as
word-delemiters which divers from the shell-semantic (see above).
And even if 'shlex' would parse strings as needed, I would have
written a (very, very) thin layer above, since 'shlex' is simple
but seldomly used for this kind of job.
(C) Copyright 2002 by Hartmut Goebel <h.goebel at crazy-compilers.com>
License: Python Software Foundation License
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