16.8. readline — GNU readline interface

The readline module defines a number of functions to facilitate completion and reading/writing of history files from the Python interpreter. This module can be used directly or via the rlcompleter module. Settings made using this module affect the behaviour of both the interpreter’s interactive prompt and the prompts offered by the raw_input() and input() built-in functions.

Note

On MacOS X the readline module can be implemented using the libedit library instead of GNU readline.

The configuration file for libedit is different from that of GNU readline. If you programmatically load configuration strings you can check for the text “libedit” in readline.__doc__ to differentiate between GNU readline and libedit.

The readline module defines the following functions:

readline.parse_and_bind(string)

Parse and execute single line of a readline init file.

readline.get_line_buffer()

Return the current contents of the line buffer.

readline.insert_text(string)

Insert text into the command line.

readline.read_init_file([filename])

Parse a readline initialization file. The default filename is the last filename used.

readline.read_history_file([filename])

Load a readline history file. The default filename is ~/.history.

readline.write_history_file([filename])

Save a readline history file. The default filename is ~/.history.

readline.clear_history()

Clear the current history. (Note: this function is not available if the installed version of GNU readline doesn’t support it.)

New in version 2.4.

readline.get_history_length()

Return the desired length of the history file. Negative values imply unlimited history file size.

readline.set_history_length(length)

Set the number of lines to save in the history file. write_history_file() uses this value to truncate the history file when saving. Negative values imply unlimited history file size.

readline.get_current_history_length()

Return the number of lines currently in the history. (This is different from get_history_length(), which returns the maximum number of lines that will be written to a history file.)

New in version 2.3.

readline.get_history_item(index)

Return the current contents of history item at index.

New in version 2.3.

readline.remove_history_item(pos)

Remove history item specified by its position from the history.

New in version 2.4.

readline.replace_history_item(pos, line)

Replace history item specified by its position with the given line.

New in version 2.4.

readline.redisplay()

Change what’s displayed on the screen to reflect the current contents of the line buffer.

New in version 2.3.

readline.set_startup_hook([function])

Set or remove the startup_hook function. If function is specified, it will be used as the new startup_hook function; if omitted or None, any hook function already installed is removed. The startup_hook function is called with no arguments just before readline prints the first prompt.

readline.set_pre_input_hook([function])

Set or remove the pre_input_hook function. If function is specified, it will be used as the new pre_input_hook function; if omitted or None, any hook function already installed is removed. The pre_input_hook function is called with no arguments after the first prompt has been printed and just before readline starts reading input characters.

readline.set_completer([function])

Set or remove the completer function. If function is specified, it will be used as the new completer function; if omitted or None, any completer function already installed is removed. The completer function is called as function(text, state), for state in 0, 1, 2, ..., until it returns a non-string value. It should return the next possible completion starting with text.

readline.get_completer()

Get the completer function, or None if no completer function has been set.

New in version 2.3.

readline.get_completion_type()

Get the type of completion being attempted.

New in version 2.6.

readline.get_begidx()

Get the beginning index of the readline tab-completion scope.

readline.get_endidx()

Get the ending index of the readline tab-completion scope.

readline.set_completer_delims(string)

Set the readline word delimiters for tab-completion.

readline.get_completer_delims()

Get the readline word delimiters for tab-completion.

readline.set_completion_display_matches_hook([function])

Set or remove the completion display function. If function is specified, it will be used as the new completion display function; if omitted or None, any completion display function already installed is removed. The completion display function is called as function(substitution, [matches], longest_match_length) once each time matches need to be displayed.

New in version 2.6.

readline.add_history(line)

Append a line to the history buffer, as if it was the last line typed.

See also

Module rlcompleter
Completion of Python identifiers at the interactive prompt.

16.8.1. Example

The following example demonstrates how to use the readline module’s history reading and writing functions to automatically load and save a history file named .pyhist from the user’s home directory. The code below would normally be executed automatically during interactive sessions from the user’s PYTHONSTARTUP file.

import os
import readline
histfile = os.path.join(os.path.expanduser("~"), ".pyhist")
try:
    readline.read_history_file(histfile)
    # default history len is -1 (infinite), which may grow unruly
    readline.set_history_length(1000)
except IOError:
    pass
import atexit
atexit.register(readline.write_history_file, histfile)
del os, histfile

The following example extends the code.InteractiveConsole class to support history save/restore.

import code
import readline
import atexit
import os

class HistoryConsole(code.InteractiveConsole):
    def __init__(self, locals=None, filename="<console>",
                 histfile=os.path.expanduser("~/.console-history")):
        code.InteractiveConsole.__init__(self, locals, filename)
        self.init_history(histfile)

    def init_history(self, histfile):
        readline.parse_and_bind("tab: complete")
        if hasattr(readline, "read_history_file"):
            try:
                readline.read_history_file(histfile)
            except IOError:
                pass
            atexit.register(self.save_history, histfile)

    def save_history(self, histfile):
        readline.set_history_length(1000)
        readline.write_history_file(histfile)