7.2. codecs — Codec registry and base classes

Source code: Lib/codecs.py

This module defines base classes for standard Python codecs (encoders and decoders) and provides access to the internal Python codec registry, which manages the codec and error handling lookup process. Most standard codecs are text encodings, which encode text to bytes, but there are also codecs provided that encode text to text, and bytes to bytes. Custom codecs may encode and decode between arbitrary types, but some module features are restricted to use specifically with text encodings, or with codecs that encode to bytes.

The module defines the following functions for encoding and decoding with any codec:

codecs.encode(obj, encoding='utf-8', errors='strict')

Encodes obj using the codec registered for encoding.

Errors may be given to set the desired error handling scheme. The default error handler is 'strict' meaning that encoding errors raise ValueError (or a more codec specific subclass, such as UnicodeEncodeError). Refer to Codec Base Classes for more information on codec error handling.

codecs.decode(obj, encoding='utf-8', errors='strict')

Decodes obj using the codec registered for encoding.

Errors may be given to set the desired error handling scheme. The default error handler is 'strict' meaning that decoding errors raise ValueError (or a more codec specific subclass, such as UnicodeDecodeError). Refer to Codec Base Classes for more information on codec error handling.

The full details for each codec can also be looked up directly:

codecs.lookup(encoding)

Looks up the codec info in the Python codec registry and returns a CodecInfo object as defined below.

Encodings are first looked up in the registry’s cache. If not found, the list of registered search functions is scanned. If no CodecInfo object is found, a LookupError is raised. Otherwise, the CodecInfo object is stored in the cache and returned to the caller.

class codecs.CodecInfo(encode, decode, streamreader=None, streamwriter=None, incrementalencoder=None, incrementaldecoder=None, name=None)

Codec details when looking up the codec registry. The constructor arguments are stored in attributes of the same name:

name

The name of the encoding.

encode
decode

The stateless encoding and decoding functions. These must be functions or methods which have the same interface as the encode() and decode() methods of Codec instances (see Codec Interface). The functions or methods are expected to work in a stateless mode.

incrementalencoder
incrementaldecoder

Incremental encoder and decoder classes or factory functions. These have to provide the interface defined by the base classes IncrementalEncoder and IncrementalDecoder, respectively. Incremental codecs can maintain state.

streamwriter
streamreader

Stream writer and reader classes or factory functions. These have to provide the interface defined by the base classes StreamWriter and StreamReader, respectively. Stream codecs can maintain state.

To simplify access to the various codec components, the module provides these additional functions which use lookup() for the codec lookup:

codecs.getencoder(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its encoder function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found.

codecs.getdecoder(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its decoder function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found.

codecs.getincrementalencoder(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its incremental encoder class or factory function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found or the codec doesn’t support an incremental encoder.

codecs.getincrementaldecoder(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its incremental decoder class or factory function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found or the codec doesn’t support an incremental decoder.

codecs.getreader(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its StreamReader class or factory function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found.

codecs.getwriter(encoding)

Look up the codec for the given encoding and return its StreamWriter class or factory function.

Raises a LookupError in case the encoding cannot be found.

Custom codecs are made available by registering a suitable codec search function:

codecs.register(search_function)

Register a codec search function. Search functions are expected to take one argument, being the encoding name in all lower case letters, and return a CodecInfo object. In case a search function cannot find a given encoding, it should return None.

Note

Search function registration is not currently reversible, which may cause problems in some cases, such as unit testing or module reloading.

While the builtin open() and the associated io module are the recommended approach for working with encoded text files, this module provides additional utility functions and classes that allow the use of a wider range of codecs when working with binary files:

codecs.open(filename, mode='r', encoding=None, errors='strict', buffering=1)

Open an encoded file using the given mode and return an instance of StreamReaderWriter, providing transparent encoding/decoding. The default file mode is 'r', meaning to open the file in read mode.

Note

Underlying encoded files are always opened in binary mode. No automatic conversion of '\n' is done on reading and writing. The mode argument may be any binary mode acceptable to the built-in open() function; the 'b' is automatically added.

encoding specifies the encoding which is to be used for the file. Any encoding that encodes to and decodes from bytes is allowed, and the data types supported by the file methods depend on the codec used.

errors may be given to define the error handling. It defaults to 'strict' which causes a ValueError to be raised in case an encoding error occurs.

buffering has the same meaning as for the built-in open() function. It defaults to line buffered.

codecs.EncodedFile(file, data_encoding, file_encoding=None, errors='strict')

Return a StreamRecoder instance, a wrapped version of file which provides transparent transcoding. The original file is closed when the wrapped version is closed.

Data written to the wrapped file is decoded according to the given data_encoding and then written to the original file as bytes using file_encoding. Bytes read from the original file are decoded according to file_encoding, and the result is encoded using data_encoding.

If file_encoding is not given, it defaults to data_encoding.

errors may be given to define the error handling. It defaults to 'strict', which causes ValueError to be raised in case an encoding error occurs.

codecs.iterencode(iterator, encoding, errors='strict', **kwargs)

Uses an incremental encoder to iteratively encode the input provided by iterator. This function is a generator. The errors argument (as well as any other keyword argument) is passed through to the incremental encoder.

codecs.iterdecode(iterator, encoding, errors='strict', **kwargs)

Uses an incremental decoder to iteratively decode the input provided by iterator. This function is a generator. The errors argument (as well as any other keyword argument) is passed through to the incremental decoder.

The module also provides the following constants which are useful for reading and writing to platform dependent files:

codecs.BOM
codecs.BOM_BE
codecs.BOM_LE
codecs.BOM_UTF8
codecs.BOM_UTF16
codecs.BOM_UTF16_BE
codecs.BOM_UTF16_LE
codecs.BOM_UTF32
codecs.BOM_UTF32_BE
codecs.BOM_UTF32_LE

These constants define various byte sequences, being Unicode byte order marks (BOMs) for several encodings. They are used in UTF-16 and UTF-32 data streams to indicate the byte order used, and in UTF-8 as a Unicode signature. BOM_UTF16 is either BOM_UTF16_BE or BOM_UTF16_LE depending on the platform’s native byte order, BOM is an alias for BOM_UTF16, BOM_LE for BOM_UTF16_LE and BOM_BE for BOM_UTF16_BE. The others represent the BOM in UTF-8 and UTF-32 encodings.

7.2.1. Codec Base Classes

The codecs module defines a set of base classes which define the interfaces for working with codec objects, and can also be used as the basis for custom codec implementations.

Each codec has to define four interfaces to make it usable as codec in Python: stateless encoder, stateless decoder, stream reader and stream writer. The stream reader and writers typically reuse the stateless encoder/decoder to implement the file protocols. Codec authors also need to define how the codec will handle encoding and decoding errors.

7.2.1.1. Error Handlers

To simplify and standardize error handling, codecs may implement different error handling schemes by accepting the errors string argument. The following string values are defined and implemented by all standard Python codecs:

Value Meaning
'strict' Raise UnicodeError (or a subclass); this is the default. Implemented in strict_errors().
'ignore' Ignore the malformed data and continue without further notice. Implemented in ignore_errors().

The following error handlers are only applicable to text encodings:

Value Meaning
'replace' Replace with a suitable replacement marker; Python will use the official U+FFFD REPLACEMENT CHARACTER for the built-in codecs on decoding, and ‘?’ on encoding. Implemented in replace_errors().
'xmlcharrefreplace' Replace with the appropriate XML character reference (only for encoding). Implemented in xmlcharrefreplace_errors().
'backslashreplace' Replace with backslashed escape sequences. Implemented in backslashreplace_errors().
'namereplace' Replace with \N{...} escape sequences (only for encoding). Implemented in namereplace_errors().
'surrogateescape' On decoding, replace byte with individual surrogate code ranging from U+DC80 to U+DCFF. This code will then be turned back into the same byte when the 'surrogateescape' error handler is used when encoding the data. (See PEP 383 for more.)

In addition, the following error handler is specific to the given codecs:

Value Codecs Meaning
'surrogatepass' utf-8, utf-16, utf-32, utf-16-be, utf-16-le, utf-32-be, utf-32-le Allow encoding and decoding of surrogate codes. These codecs normally treat the presence of surrogates as an error.

New in version 3.1: The 'surrogateescape' and 'surrogatepass' error handlers.

Changed in version 3.4: The 'surrogatepass' error handlers now works with utf-16* and utf-32* codecs.

New in version 3.5: The 'namereplace' error handler.

Changed in version 3.5: The 'backslashreplace' error handlers now works with decoding and translating.

The set of allowed values can be extended by registering a new named error handler:

codecs.register_error(name, error_handler)

Register the error handling function error_handler under the name name. The error_handler argument will be called during encoding and decoding in case of an error, when name is specified as the errors parameter.

For encoding, error_handler will be called with a UnicodeEncodeError instance, which contains information about the location of the error. The error handler must either raise this or a different exception, or return a tuple with a replacement for the unencodable part of the input and a position where encoding should continue. The replacement may be either str or bytes. If the replacement is bytes, the encoder will simply copy them into the output buffer. If the replacement is a string, the encoder will encode the replacement. Encoding continues on original input at the specified position. Negative position values will be treated as being relative to the end of the input string. If the resulting position is out of bound an IndexError will be raised.

Decoding and translating works similarly, except UnicodeDecodeError or UnicodeTranslateError will be passed to the handler and that the replacement from the error handler will be put into the output directly.

Previously registered error handlers (including the standard error handlers) can be looked up by name:

codecs.lookup_error(name)

Return the error handler previously registered under the name name.

Raises a LookupError in case the handler cannot be found.

The following standard error handlers are also made available as module level functions:

codecs.strict_errors(exception)

Implements the 'strict' error handling: each encoding or decoding error raises a UnicodeError.

codecs.replace_errors(exception)

Implements the 'replace' error handling (for text encodings only): substitutes '?' for encoding errors (to be encoded by the codec), and '\ufffd' (the Unicode replacement character) for decoding errors.

codecs.ignore_errors(exception)

Implements the 'ignore' error handling: malformed data is ignored and encoding or decoding is continued without further notice.

codecs.xmlcharrefreplace_errors(exception)

Implements the 'xmlcharrefreplace' error handling (for encoding with text encodings only): the unencodable character is replaced by an appropriate XML character reference.

codecs.backslashreplace_errors(exception)

Implements the 'backslashreplace' error handling (for text encodings only): malformed data is replaced by a backslashed escape sequence.

codecs.namereplace_errors(exception)

Implements the 'namereplace' error handling (for encoding with text encodings only): the unencodable character is replaced by a \N{...} escape sequence.

New in version 3.5.

7.2.1.2. Stateless Encoding and Decoding

The base Codec class defines these methods which also define the function interfaces of the stateless encoder and decoder:

Codec.encode(input[, errors])

Encodes the object input and returns a tuple (output object, length consumed). For instance, text encoding converts a string object to a bytes object using a particular character set encoding (e.g., cp1252 or iso-8859-1).

The errors argument defines the error handling to apply. It defaults to 'strict' handling.

The method may not store state in the Codec instance. Use StreamCodec for codecs which have to keep state in order to make encoding/decoding efficient.

The encoder must be able to handle zero length input and return an empty object of the output object type in this situation.

Codec.decode(input[, errors])

Decodes the object input and returns a tuple (output object, length consumed). For instance, for a text encoding, decoding converts a bytes object encoded using a particular character set encoding to a string object.

For text encodings and bytes-to-bytes codecs, input must be a bytes object or one which provides the read-only buffer interface – for example, buffer objects and memory mapped files.

The errors argument defines the error handling to apply. It defaults to 'strict' handling.

The method may not store state in the Codec instance. Use StreamCodec for codecs which have to keep state in order to make encoding/decoding efficient.

The decoder must be able to handle zero length input and return an empty object of the output object type in this situation.

7.2.1.3. Incremental Encoding and Decoding

The IncrementalEncoder and IncrementalDecoder classes provide the basic interface for incremental encoding and decoding. Encoding/decoding the input isn’t done with one call to the stateless encoder/decoder function, but with multiple calls to the encode()/decode() method of the incremental encoder/decoder. The incremental encoder/decoder keeps track of the encoding/decoding process during method calls.

The joined output of calls to the encode()/decode() method is the same as if all the single inputs were joined into one, and this input was encoded/decoded with the stateless encoder/decoder.

7.2.1.3.1. IncrementalEncoder Objects

The IncrementalEncoder class is used for encoding an input in multiple steps. It defines the following methods which every incremental encoder must define in order to be compatible with the Python codec registry.

class codecs.IncrementalEncoder(errors='strict')

Constructor for an IncrementalEncoder instance.

All incremental encoders must provide this constructor interface. They are free to add additional keyword arguments, but only the ones defined here are used by the Python codec registry.

The IncrementalEncoder may implement different error handling schemes by providing the errors keyword argument. See Error Handlers for possible values.

The errors argument will be assigned to an attribute of the same name. Assigning to this attribute makes it possible to switch between different error handling strategies during the lifetime of the IncrementalEncoder object.

encode(object[, final])

Encodes object (taking the current state of the encoder into account) and returns the resulting encoded object. If this is the last call to encode() final must be true (the default is false).

reset()

Reset the encoder to the initial state. The output is discarded: call .encode(object, final=True), passing an empty byte or text string if necessary, to reset the encoder and to get the output.

IncrementalEncoder.getstate()

Return the current state of the encoder which must be an integer. The implementation should make sure that 0 is the most common state. (States that are more complicated than integers can be converted into an integer by marshaling/pickling the state and encoding the bytes of the resulting string into an integer).

IncrementalEncoder.setstate(state)

Set the state of the encoder to state. state must be an encoder state returned by getstate().

7.2.1.3.2. IncrementalDecoder Objects

The IncrementalDecoder class is used for decoding an input in multiple steps. It defines the following methods which every incremental decoder must define in order to be compatible with the Python codec registry.

class codecs.IncrementalDecoder(errors='strict')

Constructor for an IncrementalDecoder instance.

All incremental decoders must provide this constructor interface. They are free to add additional keyword arguments, but only the ones defined here are used by the Python codec registry.

The IncrementalDecoder may implement different error handling schemes by providing the errors keyword argument. See Error Handlers for possible values.

The errors argument will be assigned to an attribute of the same name. Assigning to this attribute makes it possible to switch between different error handling strategies during the lifetime of the IncrementalDecoder object.

decode(object[, final])

Decodes object (taking the current state of the decoder into account) and returns the resulting decoded object. If this is the last call to decode() final must be true (the default is false). If final is true the decoder must decode the input completely and must flush all buffers. If this isn’t possible (e.g. because of incomplete byte sequences at the end of the input) it must initiate error handling just like in the stateless case (which might raise an exception).

reset()

Reset the decoder to the initial state.

getstate()

Return the current state of the decoder. This must be a tuple with two items, the first must be the buffer containing the still undecoded input. The second must be an integer and can be additional state info. (The implementation should make sure that 0 is the most common additional state info.) If this additional state info is 0 it must be possible to set the decoder to the state which has no input buffered and 0 as the additional state info, so that feeding the previously buffered input to the decoder returns it to the previous state without producing any output. (Additional state info that is more complicated than integers can be converted into an integer by marshaling/pickling the info and encoding the bytes of the resulting string into an integer.)

setstate(state)

Set the state of the encoder to state. state must be a decoder state returned by getstate().

7.2.1.4. Stream Encoding and Decoding

The StreamWriter and StreamReader classes provide generic working interfaces which can be used to implement new encoding submodules very easily. See encodings.utf_8 for an example of how this is done.

7.2.1.4.1. StreamWriter Objects

The StreamWriter class is a subclass of Codec and defines the following methods which every stream writer must define in order to be compatible with the Python codec registry.

class codecs.StreamWriter(stream, errors='strict')

Constructor for a StreamWriter instance.

All stream writers must provide this constructor interface. They are free to add additional keyword arguments, but only the ones defined here are used by the Python codec registry.

The stream argument must be a file-like object open for writing text or binary data, as appropriate for the specific codec.

The StreamWriter may implement different error handling schemes by providing the errors keyword argument. See Error Handlers for the standard error handlers the underlying stream codec may support.

The errors argument will be assigned to an attribute of the same name. Assigning to this attribute makes it possible to switch between different error handling strategies during the lifetime of the StreamWriter object.

write(object)

Writes the object’s contents encoded to the stream.

writelines(list)

Writes the concatenated list of strings to the stream (possibly by reusing the write() method). The standard bytes-to-bytes codecs do not support this method.

reset()

Flushes and resets the codec buffers used for keeping state.

Calling this method should ensure that the data on the output is put into a clean state that allows appending of new fresh data without having to rescan the whole stream to recover state.

In addition to the above methods, the StreamWriter must also inherit all other methods and attributes from the underlying stream.

7.2.1.4.2. StreamReader Objects

The StreamReader class is a subclass of Codec and defines the following methods which every stream reader must define in order to be compatible with the Python codec registry.

class codecs.StreamReader(stream, errors='strict')

Constructor for a StreamReader instance.

All stream readers must provide this constructor interface. They are free to add additional keyword arguments, but only the ones defined here are used by the Python codec registry.

The stream argument must be a file-like object open for reading text or binary data, as appropriate for the specific codec.

The StreamReader may implement different error handling schemes by providing the errors keyword argument. See Error Handlers for the standard error handlers the underlying stream codec may support.

The errors argument will be assigned to an attribute of the same name. Assigning to this attribute makes it possible to switch between different error handling strategies during the lifetime of the StreamReader object.

The set of allowed values for the errors argument can be extended with register_error().

read([size[, chars[, firstline]]])

Decodes data from the stream and returns the resulting object.

The chars argument indicates the number of decoded code points or bytes to return. The read() method will never return more data than requested, but it might return less, if there is not enough available.

The size argument indicates the approximate maximum number of encoded bytes or code points to read for decoding. The decoder can modify this setting as appropriate. The default value -1 indicates to read and decode as much as possible. This parameter is intended to prevent having to decode huge files in one step.

The firstline flag indicates that it would be sufficient to only return the first line, if there are decoding errors on later lines.

The method should use a greedy read strategy meaning that it should read as much data as is allowed within the definition of the encoding and the given size, e.g. if optional encoding endings or state markers are available on the stream, these should be read too.

readline([size[, keepends]])

Read one line from the input stream and return the decoded data.

size, if given, is passed as size argument to the stream’s read() method.

If keepends is false line-endings will be stripped from the lines returned.

readlines([sizehint[, keepends]])

Read all lines available on the input stream and return them as a list of lines.

Line-endings are implemented using the codec’s decoder method and are included in the list entries if keepends is true.

sizehint, if given, is passed as the size argument to the stream’s read() method.

reset()

Resets the codec buffers used for keeping state.

Note that no stream repositioning should take place. This method is primarily intended to be able to recover from decoding errors.

In addition to the above methods, the StreamReader must also inherit all other methods and attributes from the underlying stream.

7.2.1.4.3. StreamReaderWriter Objects

The StreamReaderWriter is a convenience class that allows wrapping streams which work in both read and write modes.

The design is such that one can use the factory functions returned by the lookup() function to construct the instance.

class codecs.StreamReaderWriter(stream, Reader, Writer, errors)

Creates a StreamReaderWriter instance. stream must be a file-like object. Reader and Writer must be factory functions or classes providing the StreamReader and StreamWriter interface resp. Error handling is done in the same way as defined for the stream readers and writers.

StreamReaderWriter instances define the combined interfaces of StreamReader and StreamWriter classes. They inherit all other methods and attributes from the underlying stream.

7.2.1.4.4. StreamRecoder Objects

The StreamRecoder translates data from one encoding to another, which is sometimes useful when dealing with different encoding environments.

The design is such that one can use the factory functions returned by the lookup() function to construct the instance.

class codecs.StreamRecoder(stream, encode, decode, Reader, Writer, errors)

Creates a StreamRecoder instance which implements a two-way conversion: encode and decode work on the frontend — the data visible to code calling read() and write(), while Reader and Writer work on the backend — the data in stream.

You can use these objects to do transparent transcodings from e.g. Latin-1 to UTF-8 and back.

The stream argument must be a file-like object.

The encode and decode arguments must adhere to the Codec interface. Reader and Writer must be factory functions or classes providing objects of the StreamReader and StreamWriter interface respectively.

Error handling is done in the same way as defined for the stream readers and writers.

StreamRecoder instances define the combined interfaces of StreamReader and StreamWriter classes. They inherit all other methods and attributes from the underlying stream.

7.2.2. Encodings and Unicode

Strings are stored internally as sequences of code points in range 0x0-0x10FFFF. (See PEP 393 for more details about the implementation.) Once a string object is used outside of CPU and memory, endianness and how these arrays are stored as bytes become an issue. As with other codecs, serialising a string into a sequence of bytes is known as encoding, and recreating the string from the sequence of bytes is known as decoding. There are a variety of different text serialisation codecs, which are collectivity referred to as text encodings.

The simplest text encoding (called 'latin-1' or 'iso-8859-1') maps the code points 0-255 to the bytes 0x0-0xff, which means that a string object that contains code points above U+00FF can’t be encoded with this codec. Doing so will raise a UnicodeEncodeError that looks like the following (although the details of the error message may differ): UnicodeEncodeError: 'latin-1' codec can't encode character '\u1234' in position 3: ordinal not in range(256).

There’s another group of encodings (the so called charmap encodings) that choose a different subset of all Unicode code points and how these code points are mapped to the bytes 0x0-0xff. To see how this is done simply open e.g. encodings/cp1252.py (which is an encoding that is used primarily on Windows). There’s a string constant with 256 characters that shows you which character is mapped to which byte value.

All of these encodings can only encode 256 of the 1114112 code points defined in Unicode. A simple and straightforward way that can store each Unicode code point, is to store each code point as four consecutive bytes. There are two possibilities: store the bytes in big endian or in little endian order. These two encodings are called UTF-32-BE and UTF-32-LE respectively. Their disadvantage is that if e.g. you use UTF-32-BE on a little endian machine you will always have to swap bytes on encoding and decoding. UTF-32 avoids this problem: bytes will always be in natural endianness. When these bytes are read by a CPU with a different endianness, then bytes have to be swapped though. To be able to detect the endianness of a UTF-16 or UTF-32 byte sequence, there’s the so called BOM (“Byte Order Mark”). This is the Unicode character U+FEFF. This character can be prepended to every UTF-16 or UTF-32 byte sequence. The byte swapped version of this character (0xFFFE) is an illegal character that may not appear in a Unicode text. So when the first character in an UTF-16 or UTF-32 byte sequence appears to be a U+FFFE the bytes have to be swapped on decoding. Unfortunately the character U+FEFF had a second purpose as a ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE: a character that has no width and doesn’t allow a word to be split. It can e.g. be used to give hints to a ligature algorithm. With Unicode 4.0 using U+FEFF as a ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE has been deprecated (with U+2060 (WORD JOINER) assuming this role). Nevertheless Unicode software still must be able to handle U+FEFF in both roles: as a BOM it’s a device to determine the storage layout of the encoded bytes, and vanishes once the byte sequence has been decoded into a string; as a ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE it’s a normal character that will be decoded like any other.

There’s another encoding that is able to encoding the full range of Unicode characters: UTF-8. UTF-8 is an 8-bit encoding, which means there are no issues with byte order in UTF-8. Each byte in a UTF-8 byte sequence consists of two parts: marker bits (the most significant bits) and payload bits. The marker bits are a sequence of zero to four 1 bits followed by a 0 bit. Unicode characters are encoded like this (with x being payload bits, which when concatenated give the Unicode character):

Range Encoding
U-00000000 ... U-0000007F 0xxxxxxx
U-00000080 ... U-000007FF 110xxxxx 10xxxxxx
U-00000800 ... U-0000FFFF 1110xxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx
U-00010000 ... U-0010FFFF 11110xxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx

The least significant bit of the Unicode character is the rightmost x bit.

As UTF-8 is an 8-bit encoding no BOM is required and any U+FEFF character in the decoded string (even if it’s the first character) is treated as a ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE.

Without external information it’s impossible to reliably determine which encoding was used for encoding a string. Each charmap encoding can decode any random byte sequence. However that’s not possible with UTF-8, as UTF-8 byte sequences have a structure that doesn’t allow arbitrary byte sequences. To increase the reliability with which a UTF-8 encoding can be detected, Microsoft invented a variant of UTF-8 (that Python 2.5 calls "utf-8-sig") for its Notepad program: Before any of the Unicode characters is written to the file, a UTF-8 encoded BOM (which looks like this as a byte sequence: 0xef, 0xbb, 0xbf) is written. As it’s rather improbable that any charmap encoded file starts with these byte values (which would e.g. map to

LATIN SMALL LETTER I WITH DIAERESIS
RIGHT-POINTING DOUBLE ANGLE QUOTATION MARK
INVERTED QUESTION MARK

in iso-8859-1), this increases the probability that a utf-8-sig encoding can be correctly guessed from the byte sequence. So here the BOM is not used to be able to determine the byte order used for generating the byte sequence, but as a signature that helps in guessing the encoding. On encoding the utf-8-sig codec will write 0xef, 0xbb, 0xbf as the first three bytes to the file. On decoding utf-8-sig will skip those three bytes if they appear as the first three bytes in the file. In UTF-8, the use of the BOM is discouraged and should generally be avoided.

7.2.3. Standard Encodings

Python comes with a number of codecs built-in, either implemented as C functions or with dictionaries as mapping tables. The following table lists the codecs by name, together with a few common aliases, and the languages for which the encoding is likely used. Neither the list of aliases nor the list of languages is meant to be exhaustive. Notice that spelling alternatives that only differ in case or use a hyphen instead of an underscore are also valid aliases; therefore, e.g. 'utf-8' is a valid alias for the 'utf_8' codec.

CPython implementation detail: Some common encodings can bypass the codecs lookup machinery to improve performance. These optimization opportunities are only recognized by CPython for a limited set of aliases: utf-8, utf8, latin-1, latin1, iso-8859-1, mbcs (Windows only), ascii, utf-16, and utf-32. Using alternative spellings for these encodings may result in slower execution.

Many of the character sets support the same languages. They vary in individual characters (e.g. whether the EURO SIGN is supported or not), and in the assignment of characters to code positions. For the European languages in particular, the following variants typically exist:

  • an ISO 8859 codeset
  • a Microsoft Windows code page, which is typically derived from a 8859 codeset, but replaces control characters with additional graphic characters
  • an IBM EBCDIC code page
  • an IBM PC code page, which is ASCII compatible
Codec Aliases Languages
ascii 646, us-ascii English
big5 big5-tw, csbig5 Traditional Chinese
big5hkscs big5-hkscs, hkscs Traditional Chinese
cp037 IBM037, IBM039 English
cp273 273, IBM273, csIBM273

German

New in version 3.4.

cp424 EBCDIC-CP-HE, IBM424 Hebrew
cp437 437, IBM437 English
cp500 EBCDIC-CP-BE, EBCDIC-CP-CH, IBM500 Western Europe
cp720   Arabic
cp737   Greek
cp775 IBM775 Baltic languages
cp850 850, IBM850 Western Europe
cp852 852, IBM852 Central and Eastern Europe
cp855 855, IBM855 Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian
cp856   Hebrew
cp857 857, IBM857 Turkish
cp858 858, IBM858 Western Europe
cp860 860, IBM860 Portuguese
cp861 861, CP-IS, IBM861 Icelandic
cp862 862, IBM862 Hebrew
cp863 863, IBM863 Canadian
cp864 IBM864 Arabic
cp865 865, IBM865 Danish, Norwegian
cp866 866, IBM866 Russian
cp869 869, CP-GR, IBM869 Greek
cp874   Thai
cp875   Greek
cp932 932, ms932, mskanji, ms-kanji Japanese
cp949 949, ms949, uhc Korean
cp950 950, ms950 Traditional Chinese
cp1006   Urdu
cp1026 ibm1026 Turkish
cp1125 1125, ibm1125, cp866u, ruscii

Ukrainian

New in version 3.4.

cp1140 ibm1140 Western Europe
cp1250 windows-1250 Central and Eastern Europe
cp1251 windows-1251 Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian
cp1252 windows-1252 Western Europe
cp1253 windows-1253 Greek
cp1254 windows-1254 Turkish
cp1255 windows-1255 Hebrew
cp1256 windows-1256 Arabic
cp1257 windows-1257 Baltic languages
cp1258 windows-1258 Vietnamese
cp65001  

Windows only: Windows UTF-8 (CP_UTF8)

New in version 3.3.

euc_jp eucjp, ujis, u-jis Japanese
euc_jis_2004 jisx0213, eucjis2004 Japanese
euc_jisx0213 eucjisx0213 Japanese
euc_kr euckr, korean, ksc5601, ks_c-5601, ks_c-5601-1987, ksx1001, ks_x-1001 Korean
gb2312 chinese, csiso58gb231280, euc- cn, euccn, eucgb2312-cn, gb2312-1980, gb2312-80, iso- ir-58 Simplified Chinese
gbk 936, cp936, ms936 Unified Chinese
gb18030 gb18030-2000 Unified Chinese
hz hzgb, hz-gb, hz-gb-2312 Simplified Chinese
iso2022_jp csiso2022jp, iso2022jp, iso-2022-jp Japanese
iso2022_jp_1 iso2022jp-1, iso-2022-jp-1 Japanese
iso2022_jp_2 iso2022jp-2, iso-2022-jp-2 Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Western Europe, Greek
iso2022_jp_2004 iso2022jp-2004, iso-2022-jp-2004 Japanese
iso2022_jp_3 iso2022jp-3, iso-2022-jp-3 Japanese
iso2022_jp_ext iso2022jp-ext, iso-2022-jp-ext Japanese
iso2022_kr csiso2022kr, iso2022kr, iso-2022-kr Korean
latin_1 iso-8859-1, iso8859-1, 8859, cp819, latin, latin1, L1 West Europe
iso8859_2 iso-8859-2, latin2, L2 Central and Eastern Europe
iso8859_3 iso-8859-3, latin3, L3 Esperanto, Maltese
iso8859_4 iso-8859-4, latin4, L4 Baltic languages
iso8859_5 iso-8859-5, cyrillic Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian
iso8859_6 iso-8859-6, arabic Arabic
iso8859_7 iso-8859-7, greek, greek8 Greek
iso8859_8 iso-8859-8, hebrew Hebrew
iso8859_9 iso-8859-9, latin5, L5 Turkish
iso8859_10 iso-8859-10, latin6, L6 Nordic languages
iso8859_13 iso-8859-13, latin7, L7 Baltic languages
iso8859_14 iso-8859-14, latin8, L8 Celtic languages
iso8859_15 iso-8859-15, latin9, L9 Western Europe
iso8859_16 iso-8859-16, latin10, L10 South-Eastern Europe
johab cp1361, ms1361 Korean
koi8_r   Russian
koi8_u   Ukrainian
mac_cyrillic maccyrillic Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian
mac_greek macgreek Greek
mac_iceland maciceland Icelandic
mac_latin2 maclatin2, maccentraleurope Central and Eastern Europe
mac_roman macroman, macintosh Western Europe
mac_turkish macturkish Turkish
ptcp154 csptcp154, pt154, cp154, cyrillic-asian Kazakh
shift_jis csshiftjis, shiftjis, sjis, s_jis Japanese
shift_jis_2004 shiftjis2004, sjis_2004, sjis2004 Japanese
shift_jisx0213 shiftjisx0213, sjisx0213, s_jisx0213 Japanese
utf_32 U32, utf32 all languages
utf_32_be UTF-32BE all languages
utf_32_le UTF-32LE all languages
utf_16 U16, utf16 all languages
utf_16_be UTF-16BE all languages
utf_16_le UTF-16LE all languages
utf_7 U7, unicode-1-1-utf-7 all languages
utf_8 U8, UTF, utf8 all languages
utf_8_sig   all languages

Changed in version 3.4: The utf-16* and utf-32* encoders no longer allow surrogate code points (U+D800U+DFFF) to be encoded. The utf-32* decoders no longer decode byte sequences that correspond to surrogate code points.

7.2.4. Python Specific Encodings

A number of predefined codecs are specific to Python, so their codec names have no meaning outside Python. These are listed in the tables below based on the expected input and output types (note that while text encodings are the most common use case for codecs, the underlying codec infrastructure supports arbitrary data transforms rather than just text encodings). For asymmetric codecs, the stated purpose describes the encoding direction.

7.2.4.1. Text Encodings

The following codecs provide str to bytes encoding and bytes-like object to str decoding, similar to the Unicode text encodings.

Codec Aliases Purpose
idna   Implements RFC 3490, see also encodings.idna. Only errors='strict' is supported.
mbcs dbcs Windows only: Encode operand according to the ANSI codepage (CP_ACP)
palmos   Encoding of PalmOS 3.5
punycode   Implements RFC 3492. Stateful codecs are not supported.
raw_unicode_escape   Latin-1 encoding with \uXXXX and \UXXXXXXXX for other code points. Existing backslashes are not escaped in any way. It is used in the Python pickle protocol.
undefined   Raise an exception for all conversions, even empty strings. The error handler is ignored.
unicode_escape   Encoding suitable as the contents of a Unicode literal in ASCII-encoded Python source code, except that quotes are not escaped. Decodes from Latin-1 source code. Beware that Python source code actually uses UTF-8 by default.
unicode_internal  

Return the internal representation of the operand. Stateful codecs are not supported.

Deprecated since version 3.3: This representation is obsoleted by PEP 393.

7.2.4.2. Binary Transforms

The following codecs provide binary transforms: bytes-like object to bytes mappings. They are not supported by bytes.decode() (which only produces str output).

Codec Aliases Purpose Encoder / decoder
base64_codec [1] base64, base_64

Convert operand to MIME base64 (the result always includes a trailing '\n')

Changed in version 3.4: accepts any bytes-like object as input for encoding and decoding

base64.b64encode() / base64.b64decode()
bz2_codec bz2 Compress the operand using bz2 bz2.compress() / bz2.decompress()
hex_codec hex Convert operand to hexadecimal representation, with two digits per byte base64.b16encode() / base64.b16decode()
quopri_codec quopri, quotedprintable, quoted_printable Convert operand to MIME quoted printable quopri.encodestring() / quopri.decodestring()
uu_codec uu Convert the operand using uuencode uu.encode() / uu.decode()
zlib_codec zip, zlib Compress the operand using gzip zlib.compress() / zlib.decompress()
[1]In addition to bytes-like objects, 'base64_codec' also accepts ASCII-only instances of str for decoding

New in version 3.2: Restoration of the binary transforms.

Changed in version 3.4: Restoration of the aliases for the binary transforms.

7.2.4.3. Text Transforms

The following codec provides a text transform: a str to str mapping. It is not supported by str.encode() (which only produces bytes output).

Codec Aliases Purpose
rot_13 rot13 Returns the Caesar-cypher encryption of the operand

New in version 3.2: Restoration of the rot_13 text transform.

Changed in version 3.4: Restoration of the rot13 alias.

7.2.5. encodings.idna — Internationalized Domain Names in Applications

This module implements RFC 3490 (Internationalized Domain Names in Applications) and RFC 3492 (Nameprep: A Stringprep Profile for Internationalized Domain Names (IDN)). It builds upon the punycode encoding and stringprep.

These RFCs together define a protocol to support non-ASCII characters in domain names. A domain name containing non-ASCII characters (such as www.Alliancefrançaise.nu) is converted into an ASCII-compatible encoding (ACE, such as www.xn--alliancefranaise-npb.nu). The ACE form of the domain name is then used in all places where arbitrary characters are not allowed by the protocol, such as DNS queries, HTTP Host fields, and so on. This conversion is carried out in the application; if possible invisible to the user: The application should transparently convert Unicode domain labels to IDNA on the wire, and convert back ACE labels to Unicode before presenting them to the user.

Python supports this conversion in several ways: the idna codec performs conversion between Unicode and ACE, separating an input string into labels based on the separator characters defined in section 3.1 (1) of RFC 3490 and converting each label to ACE as required, and conversely separating an input byte string into labels based on the . separator and converting any ACE labels found into unicode. Furthermore, the socket module transparently converts Unicode host names to ACE, so that applications need not be concerned about converting host names themselves when they pass them to the socket module. On top of that, modules that have host names as function parameters, such as http.client and ftplib, accept Unicode host names (http.client then also transparently sends an IDNA hostname in the Host field if it sends that field at all).

When receiving host names from the wire (such as in reverse name lookup), no automatic conversion to Unicode is performed: Applications wishing to present such host names to the user should decode them to Unicode.

The module encodings.idna also implements the nameprep procedure, which performs certain normalizations on host names, to achieve case-insensitivity of international domain names, and to unify similar characters. The nameprep functions can be used directly if desired.

encodings.idna.nameprep(label)

Return the nameprepped version of label. The implementation currently assumes query strings, so AllowUnassigned is true.

encodings.idna.ToASCII(label)

Convert a label to ASCII, as specified in RFC 3490. UseSTD3ASCIIRules is assumed to be false.

encodings.idna.ToUnicode(label)

Convert a label to Unicode, as specified in RFC 3490.

7.2.6. encodings.mbcs — Windows ANSI codepage

Encode operand according to the ANSI codepage (CP_ACP).

Availability: Windows only.

Changed in version 3.3: Support any error handler.

Changed in version 3.2: Before 3.2, the errors argument was ignored; 'replace' was always used to encode, and 'ignore' to decode.

7.2.7. encodings.utf_8_sig — UTF-8 codec with BOM signature

This module implements a variant of the UTF-8 codec: On encoding a UTF-8 encoded BOM will be prepended to the UTF-8 encoded bytes. For the stateful encoder this is only done once (on the first write to the byte stream). For decoding an optional UTF-8 encoded BOM at the start of the data will be skipped.