Python 3 minor irritation

Alf P. Steinbach alfps at
Thu Feb 4 05:18:38 CET 2010

* Benjamin Kaplan:
> On Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 9:56 PM, Alf P. Steinbach <alfps at> wrote:
>> * David Monaghan:
>>> I have a small program which reads files from the directory in which it
>>> resides. It's written in Python 3 and when run through IDLE or PythonWin
>>> works fine. If I double-click the file, it works fine in Python 2.6, but
>>> in
>>> 3 it fails because it looks for the files to load in the Python31 folder,
>>> not the one the script is in.
>>> It's not a big deal, but browsing around I haven't found why the behaviour
>>> has been changed or any comment about it (That might be my poor search
>>> technique, I suppose).
>>> The program fails at:
>>>    try:
>>>        tutdoc = minidom.parse(".//Myfile.xml")
>>>    except IOError:
>>>        <snip>
>> The "//" is wrong, but should not cause the behavior that you describe.
>> Try to post a complete smallest possible program that exhibits the problem.
>> Possibly, in creating that example you'll also find what's cause the
>> problem. :-)
>> Cheers & hth.,
>> - Alf
> That is the smallest example the exhibits the problem.

No, it doesn't seem to exhibit the problem at all. :-)

> It's not an
> issue with the Python code, it's an issue with how Windows is running
> it. I don't know enough about the way Windows Explorer runs files, but
> it seems to be doing the equivalent of
> cd C:\Python31
> python31.exe C:\full\path\to\script\
> instead of
> cd C:\full\path\path\to\script
> C:\Python31\python.exe
> which is David expected. This throws off the relative filepath.

No, this is not what happens.

What happens is that when you double-click the script, then __file__ is set to 
the absolute path instead of just the filename, at least on my machine (XP); 
whether the full path or just the filename is passed on the OS level depends, 
however, on the Windows version.

The current directory is always (initially) correct, as the script's directory.

> The easiest way to solve this permanently, by the way, is to not use
> relative paths. All it takes is one script to call os.chdir and the
> script breaks. You can use __file__ and the os.path module to figure
> out exactly where you are in an OS-agnostic way.
> import os.path
> #get the absolute path to the current script
> abs_path = os.path.abspath(__file__)

According to the docs: "On most platforms, this is equivalent to 
normpath(join(os.getcwd(), path))."

Therefore, if getcwd() is not the script's directory, as you hypothesize above, 
then most likely the result of this code is Not The Path You're Looking For.

However, since the current directory is in fact OK, the above is one way to get 
a sort of canonical (a where-you-know-the-format) representation of __file__.

>  # get the full path to the directory of the script
> directory = os.path.dirname(abs_path)

This is very much likely to yield the same result as calling os.getcwd(); see above.

> #get the full path to your file
> my_file = os.path.join(directory, "MyFile.xml")

Cheers & hth.,

- Alf

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