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Python library for temporenc

This is a Python library implementing the temporenc format for dates and times.


  • Support for all temporenc types
  • Interoperability with the datetime module
  • Time zone support, including conversion to local time
  • Compatibility with both Python 2 (2.6+) and Python 3 (3.2+)
  • Decent performance
  • Permissive BSD license



Use pip to install the library (e.g. into a virtualenv):

$ pip install temporenc


.. py:currentmodule:: temporenc

Basic usage

All functionality is provided by a single module with the name temporenc:

>>> import temporenc

To encode date and time information into a byte string, use the :py:func:`packb` function:

>>> temporenc.packb(year=2014, month=10, day=23)

This function automatically determines the most compact representation for the provided information. In this case, the result uses temporenc type D, but if you want to use a different type, you can provide it explicitly:

>>> temporenc.packb(type='DT', year=2014, month=10, day=23)

To unpack a byte string, use :py:func:`unpackb`:

>>> moment = temporenc.unpackb(b'\x1fzm\xff\xff')
>>> moment
<temporenc.Moment '2014-10-23'>
>>> print(moment)

As you can see, unpacking returns a :py:class:`Moment` instance. This class has a reasonable string representation, but it is generally more useful to access the individual components using one of its many attributes:

>>> print(moment.year)
>>> print(moment.month)
>>> print(
>>> print(moment.second)

Since all fields are optional in temporenc values, and since no time information was set in this example, some of the attributes (e.g. second) are None.

Integration with the datetime module

Python has built-in support for date and time handling, provided by the datetime module in the standard library, which is how applications usually work with date and time information. Instead of specifying all the fields manually when packing data, which is cumbersome and error-prone, the temporenc module integrates with the built-in datetime module:

>>> import datetime
>>> now =
>>> now
datetime.datetime(2014, 10, 23, 18, 45, 23, 612883)
>>> temporenc.packb(now)

As you can see, instead of specifying all the components manually, instances of the built-in datetime.datetime class can be passed directly as the first argument to :py:func:`packb`. This also works for and datetime.time instances.

Since the Python datetime module always uses microsecond precision, this library defaults to temporenc types with sub-second precision (e.g. DTS) when an instance of one of the datetime classes is passed. If no subsecond precision is required, you can specify a different type to save space:

>>> temporenc.packb(now, type='DT')

The integration with the datetime module works both ways. Instances of the :py:class:`Moment` class (as returned by the unpacking functions) can be converted to the standard date and time classes using the :py:meth:`~Moment.datetime`, :py:meth:``, and :py:meth:`~Moment.time` methods:

>>> moment = temporenc.unpackb(b'W\xde\x9bJ\xd5\xe5hL')
>>> moment
<temporenc.Moment '2014-10-23 18:45:23.612883'>
>>> moment.datetime()
datetime.datetime(2014, 10, 23, 18, 45, 23, 612883)
>>>, 10, 23)
>>> moment.time()
datetime.time(18, 45, 23, 612883)

Conversion to and from classes from the datetime module have full time zone support. See the API docs for :py:meth:`Moment.datetime` for more details about time zone handling.


The Python temporenc module only concerns itself with encoding and decoding. It does not do any date and time calculations, and hence does not validate that dates are correct. For example, it handles the non-existent date February 30 just fine. Always convert to native classes from the datetime module if you need to work with date and time information in your application.

Working with file-like objects

The temporenc encoding format allows for reading data from a stream without knowing in advance how big the encoded byte string is. This library supports this through the :py:func:`unpack` function, which consumes exactly the required number of bytes from the stream:

>>> import io
>>> fp = io.BytesIO()  # this could be a real file
>>> fp.write(b'W\xde\x9bJ\xd5\xe5hL')
>>> fp.write(b'foo')
>>> temporenc.unpack(fp)
<temporenc.Moment '2014-10-23 18:45:23.612883'>
>>> fp.tell()

For writing directly to a file-like object, the :py:func:`pack` function can be used, though this is just a shortcut.


The :py:func:`packb` and :py:func:`unpackb` functions operate on byte strings.

.. autofunction:: packb
.. autofunction:: unpackb

The :py:func:`pack` and :py:func:`unpack` functions operate on file-like objects.

.. autofunction:: pack
.. autofunction:: unpack

Both :py:func:`unpackb` and :py:func:`unpack` return an instance of the :py:class:`Moment` class.

.. autoclass:: Moment


Source code, including the test suite, is maintained at Github:

temporenc-python on github

Feel free to submit feedback, report issues, bring up improvement ideas, and contribute fixes!

Version history

  • x.y (not yet released)

  • 0.1

    Release date: 2014-10-30

    Initial public release.