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The ptree module has two functions to help you work with PairTree identifiers and file paths: id2ptree and ptree2id. PairTree  is an technique from the digital preservation community for safely mapping identifiers to file paths, and back again. It can be helpful when writing resources to disk so that they can be identified later on by merely looking at the filesystem layout. >>> import ptree >>> ptree.id2ptree("info:lccn/12345678") '/in/fo/+l/cc/n=/12/34/56/78/' >>> ptree.ptree2id('/in/fo/+l/cc/n=/12/34/56/78/') u'info:lccn/12345678' ptree draws from Ben O'Steen's PairTree Python module , which provides a lot more functionality for storing bitstreams on disk. ptree intentionally focuses soley on the identifier/filepath mapping, and leaves IO operations up to you. The unit tests were shamlessly stolen from John Kunze's File::PairTree CPAN module . Author: Ed Summers <email@example.com> License: Public Domain  https://confluence.ucop.edu/display/Curation/PairTree  http://pypi.python.org/pypi/Pairtree  http://search.cpan.org/dist/Pairtree/