This module performs conversions between Python values and C structs represented as Python strings. It uses format strings (explained below) as compact descriptions of the lay-out of the C structs and the intended conversion to/from Python values.
See also built-in module array.
The module defines the following exception and functions:
Format characters have the following meaning; the conversion between C and Python values should be obvious given their types:
|x||pad byte||no value|
|c||char||string of length 1|
A format character may be preceded by an integral repeat count; e.g.\ the format string '4h' means exactly the same as 'hhhh'.
Whitespace characters between formats are ignored; a count and its format must not contain whitespace though.
For the 's' format character, the count is interpreted as the size of the string, not a repeat count like for the other format characters; e.g. '10s' means a single 10-byte string, while '10c' means 10 characters. For packing, the string is truncated or padded with null bytes as appropriate to make it fit. For unpacking, the resulting string always has exactly the specified number of bytes. As a special case, '0s' means a single, empty string (while '0c' means 0 characters).
For the 'I' and 'L' format characters, the return value is a Python long integer.
By default, C numbers are represented in the machine's native format and byte order, and properly aligned by skipping pad bytes if necessary (according to the rules used by the C compiler).
Alternatively, the first character of the format string can be used to indicate the byte order, size and alignment of the packed data, according to the following table:
|Character||Byte order||Size and alignment|
|!||network (= big-endian)||standard|
If the first character is not one of these, '@' is assumed.
Native byte order is big-endian or little-endian, depending on the host system (e.g. Motorola and Sun are big-endian; Intel and DEC are little-endian).
Native size and alignment are determined using the C compiler's sizeof expression. This is always combined with native byte order.
Standard size and alignment are as follows: no alignment is required for any type (so you have to use pad bytes); short is 2 bytes; int and long are 4 bytes. Float and double are 32-bit and 64-bit IEEE floating point numbers, respectively.
Note the difference between '@' and '=': both use native byte order, but the size and alignment of the latter is standardized.
The form '!' is available for those poor souls who claim they can't remember whether network byte order is big-endian or little-endian.
There is no way to indicate non-native byte order (i.e. force byte-swapping); use the appropriate choice of '<' or '>'.
Examples (all using native byte order, size and alignment, on a big-endian machine):
>>> from struct import * >>> pack('hhl', 1, 2, 3) '\000\001\000\002\000\000\000\003' >>> unpack('hhl', '\000\001\000\002\000\000\000\003') (1, 2, 3) >>> calcsize('hhl') 8 >>>