What's the Scoop on \\ for Paths? (Win)

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Sun Jan 31 19:26:16 CET 2010

W. eWatson wrote:
> I'm sure that \\ is used in some way for paths in Win Python, but I have
> not found anything after quite a search. I even have a six page pdf on a
> file tutorial. Nothing. Two books. Nothing. When I try to open a file
> along do I need, for example, "Events\\record\\year\\today"? Are paths
> like, ".\\Events" allowed, or am I mixing up my Linux memory on this?

You need to read up on string literals is all. "\\" is simply the
literal representation of a string containing a single backslash. This
comes about because string literals are allowed to contain special
"escape sequences" which are introduced by a backslash; since this gives
the backslash a special meaning in string literals we also have to use
an escape sequence ("\\") to represent a backslash.

In practice you will find that

a) Many Windows APIs (but not the command line) are just as happy with a
forward slash as a backslash to separate file path components; and

b) The best practice is to build filenames using the routines provided
in the os.path module, which guarantees to give results correct for the
current platform.

Steve Holden           +1 571 484 6266   +1 800 494 3119
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