Fwd: Re: Comparing Dictionaries

Steven D'Aprano steve at REMOVE.THIS.cybersource.com.au
Mon Jul 30 19:49:01 EDT 2007

On Mon, 30 Jul 2007 14:06:29 -0500, Kenneth Love wrote:

>>From: "Steven D'Aprano" <steve at REMOVE.THIS.cybersource.com.au>
>>Newsgroups: comp.lang.python
>>Subject: Re: Comparing Dictionaries
>>Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 10:21:14 +1000
>>To: python-list at python.org
>>On Fri, 27 Jul 2007 14:11:02 -0500, Kenneth Love wrote:
>> > The published recipe (based on ConfigParser) did not handle my INI
>> > files.  I have periods in both the section names and the key names.
>> > The INI files contents were developed according to an internally
>> > defined process that other non-Python programs rely on.  The published
>> > recipe *did not work* with this scenario.
>>I think you have made a mistake. ConfigParser as published certainly DOES
>>accept periods in section and option names. It just *works*.
> The recipe I'm using is based upon ConfigParser and creates a dictionary
> that is based on the contents of the INI file.  The dictionary's key is
> based on the section name and the key name from the INI file.  The two
> are concatenated with a separator.
> In the original recipe, the separator is a period.  To use your example
> (deleted as an attempt at brevity), the dictionary would be:
> { "SECTION.FRED.option.wilma" : "45" }

Well, that's just broken.

"Flat is better than nested" is only true when things are actually better
flat rather than nested. The right way to build a dictionary from an INI
file is with nested dictionaries:

{"SECTION1": {"option1": 20, "option2": 30}, 
"SECTION2": {"option1", 2.0, "option2": 3.0}}

That treats each section as a single piece.

But if you absolutely insist on flattening the dictionary, the right way
is not to concatenate the section name and the option name into a single
string, but to use a tuple ("SECTION", "option").


> In no way did I rewrite ConfigParser.  I have a real job with time
> pressures and I'm not so arrogant as to think I could whip something
> up in an hour that would be anywhere close to correct.
> I see that I wasn't as clear as I thought I was in my original post
> as you are second person to think I was developing my own INI solution.

Copying somebody else's code and modifying it is still recreating an
existing solution. Python has an INI file parser. What does it not do that
you have to recreate it by creating your own version?

Oh, ironically, the recipe you borrowed in fact uses the Python
ConfigParser to do all the heavy work. All it really does is flatten the
ConfigParser nested dictionary into a flat dictionary. I fail to see the

> All I wanted to know was "How do I compare two dictionaries to see if
> they are equal?".

Yes, but I suspect what you _wanted_ to know and what you _needed_ to know
are different.


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