Using 'string.ljust' to try and hold a fixed width.......

John F Dutcher John_Dutcher at
Wed Nov 19 20:23:41 CET 2003

Last shot ... then I'll leave you alone...I tried your 'fixedwidth'
Almost worked perfectly in IDLE when coded as below:
It has no effect at all when employed in the CGI script however, (the
values do not have trailing spaces) ??

IDLE code:  
def fixedwidth(string, width=15):
    if len(string) > width:
        return string[:width]
        return string.ljust(width)
ten = 'xxxxxxxxxx'    
recd = []
rec = string.join(recd,'')
print rec

Same code placed in CGI.... BUT....the passed string came in from the
form...can't see why there should be any difference.
"Francis Avila" <francisgavila at> wrote in message news:<vrn1781b9t44a3 at>...
> John F Dutcher wrote in message
> <2c82369d.0311190538.3789f2a1 at>...
> >I use code like the following to retrieve fields from a form:
> >
> >recd = []
> >recd.append(string.ljust(form.getfirst("lname",' '),15))
> >recd.append(string.ljust(form.getfirst("fname",' '),15))
> >etc., etc.
> >
> >The intent is to finish by assigning the list to a string that I would
> >write to disk: recstr = string.join(recd,'')
> >
> >The spaces expected are 'NOT' being provided with 'string.ljust'....
> >
> >If I simply print the field immediately as in:
> >       print string.ljust(form.getfirst("lname",' '),15)
> >
> >they are not present; they are not present when assigned to the list,
> >and, of course, they are not present in the final string.
> >Is there a way to do I can have spaces 'held' in the
> >object I want to write to the file ??
> >Thanks.
> What does form.getfirst do?  (Also, unless you're using an ancient Python,
> the strings objects themselves have ljust methods and you don't need the
> string module.)
> string.ljust will never truncate or modify a string, only extend it, so I
> don't know what you mean by having spaces "held".  If the length of the
> string is shorter than 15, string.ljust will return another string of length
> 15 with spaces on the right.  But if its longer, string.ljust will return
> the string unchanged (i.e., still longer than 15 chars).
> Since you're writing this stuff to disk, I presume you need fixed-width
> strings, so you can reliably read things back?  If so, you can't safely use
> string.ljust to pad *unless* you know *with certainty* that all strings fed
> to it are 15 chars or shorter (because string.ljust won't truncate).  So why
> not use struct.pack and struct.unpack instead of string.join?  (At least,
> use string.joinwords() if you won't use ''.join())
> E.g.:
> recd = []
> recd.append(form.getfirst("lname",' ')) # 'Avila' ?
> recd.append(form.getfirst("fname",' ')) # 'Francis' ?
> struct.pack('15s15s', *recd) # 'Avila\x00\x00Francis'
> struct.unpack('15s15s', 'Avila\x00\x00Francis') # -> ('Avila', 'Francis')
> Of course, struct pads with nulls, not spaces, so you already enter upon the
> nasty world of binary files.  You could postprocess the struct.pack string
> with ''.replace('\x00', ' '), but you'll have to strip trailing spaces when
> you struct.unpack().
> You could write your own fixed-width-string class/function:
> def fixedwidth(string, width=15):
>     if len(string) > width:
>         return string[:width]
>     else:
>         return string.ljust(width)
> There's a lot of repetition going on here, so you might want to think of
> wrapping all this functionality up in a 'formFieldSerializer' class of some
> sort.
> If it's possible to change the structure of what you write to disk, there
> are a number of much better alternatives.  Depending upon how rich your data
> structure is and whether you need to name your fields, you could use (in
> ascending complexity) colon-separated fields (':'.join(L). Remember to
> escape colons in L!), the csv module, the ConfigParser module, or XML of
> some kind (only if absolutely necessary).  There are many other modules in
> the std library which do serialization of some kind, like MimeWriter, etc.,
> which may be appropriate for what you're doing.  You can even use the db
> modules if you need simple database.

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