Considering migrating to Python from Visual Basic 6 for engineering applications

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Sat Feb 20 02:54:05 EST 2016

On Fri, 19 Feb 2016 10:53 pm, wrong.address.1 at wrote:

>> See for a list of
>> parsers that can do all sorts for you.  Or the stdlib re module
> I am an engineer, and do not understand most of the terminology used
> there. 

Google, or the search engine of your choice, is your friend.

Wikipedia even more so: Wikipedia has lots of good, useful articles on
computing concepts.

And use the search box visible at the top of every page.

Or ask here.

> And do I need something fancy to read a line of numbers? Should it 
> not be built into the language?

In your own words:

"I will have to read data given to me by people, which may not come in nice
formats like CSV"

I trust that you don't expect the language to come with pre-written
functions to read numbers in every imaginable format. If you do, you will
be disappointed -- no language could possible do this.

To answer your question "Do I need something fancy...?", no, of course not,
reading a line of numbers from a text file is easy.

with open("numbers.txt", "r") as f:
    for line in f:
        numbers = [int(s) for s in split(line)]

will read and convert integer-valued numbers separated by whitespace like:

    123 654 9374 1 -45 3625

one line at a time. You can then collate them for later use, or process them
as you go. If they're floating point numbers, change the call to int() to a
call to float().


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