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tnetstring: data serialization using typed netstrings

This is a data serialization library. It's a lot like JSON but it uses a new syntax called "typed netstrings" that Zed has proposed for use in the Mongrel2 webserver. It's designed to be simpler and easier to implement than JSON, with a happy consequence of also being faster in many cases.

An ordinary netstring is a blob of data prefixed with its length and postfixed with a sanity-checking comma. The string "hello world" encodes like this:

11:hello world,

Typed netstrings add other datatypes by replacing the comma with a type tag. Here's the integer 12345 encoded as a tnetstring:

5:12345#

And here's the list [12345,True,0] which mixes integers and bools:

19:5:12345#4:true!1:0#]

Simple enough? This module gives you the following functions:

dump:dump an object as a tnetstring to a file
dumps:dump an object as a tnetstring to a string
load:load a tnetstring-encoded object from a file
loads:load a tnetstring-encoded object from a string
pop:pop a tnetstring-encoded object from the front of a string

Note that since parsing a tnetstring requires reading all the data into memory at once, there's no efficiency gain from using the file-based versions of these functions. They're only here so you can use load() to read precisely one item from a file or socket without consuming any extra data.

The tnetstrings specification explicitly states that strings are binary blobs and forbids the use of unicode at the protocol level. As a convenience to python programmers, this library lets you specify an application-level encoding to translate python's unicode strings to and from binary blobs:

>>> print repr(tnetstring.loads("2:\xce\xb1,"))
'\xce\xb1'
>>>
>>> print repr(tnetstring.loads("2:\xce\xb1,", "utf8"))
u'\u03b1'
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