Python flavoured object markup.
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PyMark is a lightweight and powerful object markup solution which uses Python as a frontend and compiles data to a simple binary format for use in an application.

Having a focus on a powerful frontend has many benefits missing from other object markup techniques:

  • Bad syntax is caught at compile time.
  • A whole programming language to help you.
  • Lists, Tuples, Dictionaries are all first class structures.
  • Structure manipulation/patching can be done easily and early.

And having a simple backend has some benefits too.

  • A parser in less than 250 lines of C.
  • Reads/Writes/Streams data quickly.


Having so much happen in the frontend makes the system somewhat one-directional.

While the human readable source can be reconstructed in some sense, data such as comments are lost in the compilation. PyMark is best used for human written object description for use in an application, not for marking up documents or sharing rich information.


The first task is to actually enter your data. For this you simply create a python module. All native objects at the top level other than the builtins dictionary will be exported. You can structure this how you please. If you are a JSON fan you might write something like this:

""" My Favourite Pets - A basic example """

benny = {
  "type"  : "Dog",
  "name"  : "Benny Boos",
  "color" : "Brown",
  "toys"  : ["Bone", "Ball"]
roger = {
  "type"  : "Horse",
  "name"  : "Roger Horse",
  "color" : "White",
  "toys"  : ["Brush", "String"]

catherine = {
  "type"  : "Cat",
  "name"  : "Catherine",
  "color" : "Ginger",
  "toys"  : ["String", "Mouse"]

But having Python allows you to be much more expressive. You can adjust the data entry in many different ways to make it simpler, more explicit, or more aesthetic.

""" My Favourite Pets - Another example """

from pymark import enum, module, struct

""" Constants """

Types = enum("Dog", "Horse", "Cat")
Toys = enum("String", "Mouse", "Brush", "Bone", "Ball")

Colors = struct(
    Brown = (94, 83, 51),
    White = (255, 255, 255),
    Ginger = (237, 133, 14),

""" Module """

pets = module(
  benny = struct(
    type = Types.Dog,
    name = "Benny Boos",
    color = Colors.Brown,
    toys = [Toys.Bone, Toys.Ball]

  roger = struct(
    type = Types.Horse,
    name = "Roger Horse",
    color = Colors.White,
    toys = [Toys.Brush, Toys.String]
  catherine = struct(
    type = Types.Cat,
    name = "Catherine",
    color = Colors.Ginger, 
    toys = [Toys.String, Toys.Mouse]


Perhaps the above example looks like a bit of a mess, but it does show off some of the potential. I have no real preference for either style but in using Python you have the option to adapt your markup depending on preference or domain.


Once you have written the module just feed it into pymark.

pymark pets_two.pmk

For access in an application I have tried to make the API fairly simplistic and clear.

Loading data at runtime and making it easy to access in a type safe language is always going to be horrible. It is one of the major issues with doing object markup in a separate language and there is little way around it. Saying that it doesn't have to be as obtuse as some XML or highly structured APIs. Feedback is more than welcome on any of these.

The reason there are so many supported languages is that I've found writing data parsers for PyMark is a really good way to learn a new language. It can be written in a only a few lines of code and almost always highlights all the important issues such as the type system, library use, low level ability, recursion/looping, and clear API methologies. Finally it is more fun than language tutorials!


#include <stdio.h>

#include "../pymark/parsers/PyMark.h"

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
  PyMarkObject* pets_two = PyMark_Unpack("pets_two.pmk");
  printf("TypeID: %i\n", pets_two->get(pets_two, "pets.catherine.type")->as_int);
  printf("Name: %s\n", pets_two->get(pets_two, "")->as_string);
  PyMarkObject* color = pets_two->get(pets_two, "pets.catherine.color");
  printf("Color: (%i, %i, %i)\n", color->items[0]->as_int, 
  return 0;


#include <stdio.h>

#include "../pymark/parsers/PyMark.hpp"

int main(int argc, char** argv) {
  PyMark::PyMarkObject* pets_two = PyMark::Unpack("pets_two.pmk");
  printf("TypeID: %i\n", pets_two->Get("pets.catherine.type")->AsInt());
  printf("Name: %s\n", pets_two->Get("")->AsString());
  PyMark::PyMarkObject* color = pets_two->Get("pets.catherine.color");
  printf("Color: (%i, %i, %i)\n", color->At(0)->AsInt(), 
  delete pets_two;
  return 0;


import pymark

pets_mod = pymark.unpack_file("pets_two.pmk")

print "TypeID: %i" % pets_mod["pets"]["catherine"]["type"]
print "Name: %s" % pets_mod["pets"]["catherine"]["name"]
print "Color: (%i, %i, %i)" % pets_mod["pets"]["catherine"]["color"]



class test4 {
  public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
    PyMarkObject pets_two = PyMarkObject.Unpack("pets_two.pmk");
    System.out.printf("TypeID: %d\n", pets_two.get("pets.catherine.type").asInt()); 
    System.out.printf("Name: %s\n", pets_two.get("").asString());
    PyMarkObject color = pets_two.get("pets.catherine.color");
    System.out.printf("Color: (%d, %d, %d)\n",,



import Text.Printf

import PyMark

main = do
  pets_two <- pyMarkUnpack "pets_two.pmk"
  printf "TypeID: %i\n" $ asInt (pets_two !# "pets.catherine.type")
  printf "Name: %s\n" $ asString (pets_two !# "")
  color <- return (pets_two !# "pets.catherine.color")
  printf "Color: (%i, %i, %i)\n" (asInt $ color ! 0) (asInt $ color ! 1) (asInt $ color ! 2)


(use 'pymark)

(let [pets-two (pymark-unpack "pets_two.pmk")]
    (printf "TypeID: %d\n" (get-in pets-two ["pets" "catherine" "type"]))
    (printf "Name: %s\n" (get-in pets-two ["pets" "catherine" "name"]))
    (let [color (get-in pets-two ["pets" "catherine" "color"])]
      (printf "Color: (%d, %d, %d)\n" (nth color 0) (nth color 1) (nth color 2))) ))


require "PyMark"

pets_two = pymark_unpack("pets_two.pmk")

print(string.format("TypeID: %d", pets_two.pets.catherine.type))
print(string.format("Name: %s",

color = pets_two.pets.catherine.color
print(string.format("Color: (%d, %d, %d)", color[1], color[2], color[3]))