1.9 The Py_BuildValue() Function

This function is the counterpart to PyArg_ParseTuple(). It is declared as follows:

PyObject *Py_BuildValue(char *format, ...);

It recognizes a set of format units similar to the ones recognized by PyArg_ParseTuple(), but the arguments (which are input to the function, not output) must not be pointers, just values. It returns a new Python object, suitable for returning from a C function called from Python.

One difference with PyArg_ParseTuple(): while the latter requires its first argument to be a tuple (since Python argument lists are always represented as tuples internally), Py_BuildValue() does not always build a tuple. It builds a tuple only if its format string contains two or more format units. If the format string is empty, it returns None; if it contains exactly one format unit, it returns whatever object is described by that format unit. To force it to return a tuple of size 0 or one, parenthesize the format string.

In the following description, the quoted form is the format unit; the entry in (round) parentheses is the Python object type that the format unit will return; and the entry in [square] brackets is the type of the C value(s) to be passed.

The characters space, tab, colon and comma are ignored in format strings (but not within format units such as "s#"). This can be used to make long format strings a tad more readable.

"s" (string) [char *]
Convert a null-terminated C string to a Python object. If the C string pointer is NULL, None is returned.

"s#" (string) [char *, int]
Convert a C string and its length to a Python object. If the C string pointer is NULL, the length is ignored and None is returned.

"z" (string or None) [char *]
Same as "s".

"z#" (string or None) [char *, int]
Same as "s#".

"i" (integer) [int]
Convert a plain C int to a Python integer object.

"b" (integer) [char]
Same as "i".

"h" (integer) [short int]
Same as "i".

"l" (integer) [long int]
Convert a C long int to a Python integer object.

"c" (string of length 1) [char]
Convert a C int representing a character to a Python string of length 1.

"d" (float) [double]
Convert a C double to a Python floating point number.

"f" (float) [float]
Same as "d".

"O" (object) [PyObject *]
Pass a Python object untouched (except for its reference count, which is incremented by one). If the object passed in is a NULL pointer, it is assumed that this was caused because the call producing the argument found an error and set an exception. Therefore, Py_BuildValue() will return NULL but won't raise an exception. If no exception has been raised yet, PyExc_SystemError is set.

"S" (object) [PyObject *]
Same as "O".

"N" (object) [PyObject *]
Same as "O", except it doesn't increment the reference count on the object. Useful when the object is created by a call to an object constructor in the argument list.

"O&" (object) [converter, anything]
Convert anything to a Python object through a converter function. The function is called with anything (which should be compatible with void *) as its argument and should return a ``new'' Python object, or NULL if an error occurred.

"(items)" (tuple) [matching-items]
Convert a sequence of C values to a Python tuple with the same number of items.

"[items]" (list) [matching-items]
Convert a sequence of C values to a Python list with the same number of items.

"{items}" (dictionary) [matching-items]
Convert a sequence of C values to a Python dictionary. Each pair of consecutive C values adds one item to the dictionary, serving as key and value, respectively.

If there is an error in the format string, the PyExc_SystemError exception is raised and NULL returned.

Examples (to the left the call, to the right the resulting Python value):

    Py_BuildValue("")                        None
    Py_BuildValue("i", 123)                  123
    Py_BuildValue("iii", 123, 456, 789)      (123, 456, 789)
    Py_BuildValue("s", "hello")              'hello'
    Py_BuildValue("ss", "hello", "world")    ('hello', 'world')
    Py_BuildValue("s#", "hello", 4)          'hell'
    Py_BuildValue("()")                      ()
    Py_BuildValue("(i)", 123)                (123,)
    Py_BuildValue("(ii)", 123, 456)          (123, 456)
    Py_BuildValue("(i,i)", 123, 456)         (123, 456)
    Py_BuildValue("[i,i]", 123, 456)         [123, 456]
                  "abc", 123, "def", 456)    {'abc': 123, 'def': 456}
    Py_BuildValue("((ii)(ii)) (ii)",
                  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)          (((1, 2), (3, 4)), (5, 6))

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