python-peps / pep-0259.txt

PEP: 259
Title: Omit printing newline after newline
Version: $Revision$
Last-Modified: $Date$
Author: (Guido van Rossum)
Status: Rejected
Type: Standards Track
Created: 11-Jun-2001
Python-Version: 2.2
Post-History: 11-Jun-2001


    Currently, the print statement always appends a newline, unless a
    trailing comma is used.  This means that if we want to print data
    that already ends in a newline, we get two newlines, unless
    special precautions are taken.

    I propose to skip printing the newline when it follows a newline
    that came from data.

    In order to avoid having to add yet another magic variable to file
    objects, I propose to give the existing 'softspace' variable an
    extra meaning: a negative value will mean "the last data written
    ended in a newline so no space *or* newline is required."


    When printing data that resembles the lines read from a file using
    a simple loop, double-spacing occurs unless special care is taken:

        >>> for line in open("/etc/passwd").readlines():           
        ... print line 





    While there are easy work-arounds, this is often noticed only
    during testing and requires an extra edit-test roundtrip; the
    fixed code is uglier and harder to maintain.

Proposed Solution

    In the PRINT_ITEM opcode in ceval.c, when a string object is
    printed, a check is already made that looks at the last character
    of that string.  Currently, if that last character is a whitespace
    character other than space, the softspace flag is reset to zero;
    this suppresses the space between two items if the first item is a
    string ending in newline, tab, etc. (but not when it ends in a
    space).  Otherwise the softspace flag is set to one.

    The proposal changes this test slightly so that softspace is set

        -1 -- if the last object written is a string ending in a

         0 -- if the last object written is a string ending in a
              whitespace character that's neither space nor newline

         1 -- in all other cases (including the case when the last
              object written is an empty string or not a string)

    Then, the PRINT_NEWLINE opcode, printing of the newline is
    suppressed if the value of softspace is negative; in any case the
    softspace flag is reset to zero.


    This only affects printing of 8-bit strings.  It doesn't affect
    Unicode, although that could be considered a bug in the Unicode
    implementation.  It doesn't affect other objects whose string
    representation happens to end in a newline character.


    This change breaks some existing code.  For example:

        print "Subject: PEP 259\n"
        print message_body

    In current Python, this produces a blank line separating the
    subject from the message body; with the proposed change, the body
    begins immediately below the subject.  This is not very robust
    code anyway; it is better written as

        print "Subject: PEP 259"
        print message_body

    In the test suite, only test_StringIO (which explicitly tests for
    this feature) breaks.


    A patch relative to current CVS is here:


    The user community unanimously rejected this, so I won't pursue
    this idea any further.  Frequently heard arguments against

    - It it likely to break thousands of CGI scripts.

    - Enough magic already (also: no more tinkering with 'print'


    This document has been placed in the public domain.

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