user836087 user836087 - 24 days ago 7
Python Question

Writelines writes lines without newline, Just fills the file..

I have a program that writes a list to a file.
The list is a list of pipe delimited lines and the lines should be written to the file like this:

123|GSV|Weather_Mean|hello|joe|43.45
122|GEV|temp_Mean|hello|joe|23.45
124|GSI|Weather_Mean|hello|Mike|47.45


BUT it wrote them line this ahhhh:

123|GSV|Weather_Mean|hello|joe|43.45122|GEV|temp_Mean|hello|joe|23.45124|GSI|Weather_Mean|hello|Mike|47.45


This program wrote all the lines into like one line without any line breaks.. This hurts me a lot and I gotta figure-out how to reverse this but anyway, where is my program wrong here? I thought write lines should write lines down the file rather than just write everything to one line..

fr = open(sys.argv[1], 'r') # source file
fw = open(sys.argv[2]+"/masked_"+sys.argv[1], 'w') # Target Directory Location

for line in fr:
line = line.strip()
if line == "":
continue
columns = line.strip().split('|')
if columns[0].find("@") > 1:
looking_for = columns[0] # this is what we need to search
else:
looking_for = "Dummy@dummy.com"
if looking_for in d:
# by default, iterating over a dictionary will return keys
new_line = d[looking_for]+'|'+'|'.join(columns[1:])
line_list.append(new_line)
else:
new_idx = str(len(d)+1)
d[looking_for] = new_idx
kv = open(sys.argv[3], 'a')
kv.write(looking_for+" "+new_idx+'\n')
kv.close()
new_line = d[looking_for]+'|'+'|'.join(columns[1:])
line_list.append(new_line)
fw.writelines(line_list)

Answer

This is actually a pretty common problem for newcomers to Python—especially since, across the standard library and popular third-party libraries, some reading functions strip out newlines, but almost no writing functions (except the log-related stuff) add them.

So, there's a lot of Python code out there that does things like:

fw.write('\n'.join(line_list) + '\n')

or

fw.write(line + '\n' for line in line_list)

Either one is correct, and of course you could even write your own writelinesWithNewlines function that wraps it up…

But you should only do this if you can't avoid it.

It's better if you can create/keep the newlines in the first place—as in Greg Hewgill's suggestions:

line_list.append(new_line + "\n")

And it's even better if you can work at a higher level than raw lines of text, e.g., by using the csv module in the standard library, as esuaro suggests.

For example, right after defining fw, you might do this:

cw = csv.writer(fw, delimiter='|')

Then, instead of this:

new_line = d[looking_for]+'|'+'|'.join(columns[1:])
line_list.append(new_line)

You do this:

row_list.append(d[looking_for] + columns[1:])

And at the end, instead of this:

fw.writelines(line_list)

You do this:

cw.writerows(row_list)

Finally, your design is "open a file, then build up a list of lines to add to the file, then write them all at once". If you're going to open the file up top, why not just write the lines one by one? Whether you're using simple writes or a csv.writer, it'll make your life simpler, and your code easier to read. (Sometimes there can be simplicity, efficiency, or correctness reasons to write a file all at once—but once you've moved the open all the way to the opposite end of the program from the write, you've pretty much lost any benefits of all-at-once.)