bignose bignose - 1 year ago 488
Python Question

Text formatting error: '=' alignment not allowed in string format specifier

What does

'=' alignment
mean in the following error message, and why does this code cause it?

>>> "{num:03}".format(num="1")
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
ValueError: '=' alignment not allowed in string format specifier

Nothing in the error message indicates why “'=' alignment” is relevant,
and it does not appear in the code.

Answer Source

The error message occurs because '=' alignment has been implied by the format specifier.

The str.format format spec mini-language parser has decided on the alignment specifier “=” because:

Preceding the width field by a zero ('0') character enables sign-aware zero-padding for numeric types. This is equivalent to a fill character of '0' with an alignment type of '='.

So by specifying 0N as the “zero-padding to N width”, you have implied both “the input is a numeric type”, and “the zeros should go between the sign and the digits”. That latter implication is what is meant by '=' alignment.

Since the input is not numeric, the “=”-alignment handling code raises that exception. The message is written expecting you know what it's talking about because you requested (by implication) the “=” alignment.

Yes, I think that error message needs to be improved. I've raised an issue for that.

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