fuzzyparsers /

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Introduction and Examples

The fuzzyparsers library provides a small collection of functions to sanitize free form user input. For the moment its chief value is the flexible date parser.

The library has two main parsers. The first is a prefix parser which compares a string to a list of strings and returns the unique element of the list which matches the prefix. An exception is thrown if the match is not unique.

>>> from fuzzyparsers import fuzzy_match
>>> fuzzy_match(['aab','bba','abc'],'aa')
>>> fuzzy_match(['aab','bba','abc'],'a')  # two strings starting with 'a'.
Traceback (most recent call last):
ValueError: ambiguous match for 'a'

The second parser parses dates in various formats and returns a object. Accepted formats include:

jan 12, 2003
jan 5
+34 -- 34 days in the future (relative to todays date)
-4 -- 4 days in the past (relative to todays date)

For instance:

>>> from fuzzyparsers import parse_date
>>> parse_date('jun 17 2010') # my youngest son's birthday, 6, 17)

The library allows setting a default date to fill in specified components of a date (e.g. the year). By default, a date with-out a year to will give the current year.

>>> from fuzzyparsers import DateParser
>>> import datetime
>>> DateParser(, 3, 1)).parse_date('feb 3'), 2, 3)


We'd like to support the following features:

  • Parsing time strings like "10 am" and "2 3 pm"
  • A "[0-9]*.[0-9]*" with the first hunk a month and the second hunk a day should return the month/day combination which is nearest. For example, "12-3" would return december 3 of this year or last year.


  • 0.7.2 - added doc-tests and "march 2012" date format; doc-test scripts
  • 0.7.1 - install fixes
  • 0.7 - overhaul of date parsing api to support relative dates (not necessarily relative to the current date)
  • 0.6.x - initial public release and series of doc/install corrections


Fuzzyparsers is written by Joel B. Mohler and distributed under the terms of the GPL v2 (or later).

Use the following commands to run the extensive doc-tests:

python -m doctest fuzzyparsers/*.py
python -m doctest README.txt

To install fuzzyparsers, do the normal python thing (probably as root):

python install


eazy_install fuzzyparsers