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:
Typed netstrings add other datatypes by replacing the comma with a type tag. Here's the integer 12345 encoded as a tnetstring:
And here's the list [12345,True,0] which mixes integers and bools:
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'