struct module...

Tim Peters at
Fri Mar 21 17:04:26 CET 2003

[Franck Bui-Huu]
> I'm trying to read from a binary file data.
> These data have been written by a C soft using structure like
> struct xxx {
>     u1 length;
>     u1 array[length];
> }

Picturing a struct isn't really helpful here, in part because C structs
don't have variable length.  How the file was actually written should
suggest how to read it back in.  I don't know what "u1" means here, but
assuming length is an int and array is full of doubles, and the data was
written in big-endian ("network") order and without pad bytes, this kind of
reading code is likely appropriate:

    data =
    if len(data) != 4:
        raise SomeException
    n = struct.unpack(">i", data)[0]

    data =*n)
    if len(data) != 8*n:
        raise SomeException
    array = struct.unpack(">%dd" % n, data)

OTOH, if u1 here means unsigned byte, life would be easier if you skipped
the struct module:

    data =
    if len(data) != 1:
        raise SomeException
    n = ord(data)

    data =
    if len(data) != n:
        raise SomeException
    array = map(ord, data)

> ...
> did someone extend struct module to manage not fixed lengh of
> array. We could imagine a format for struct xxx like:
> 'B?(1)c' where ?(1) means the value of the first unpcked data.

Doesn't seem worth the confusion or bother to me.

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