Python 1.52 Quick Reference

 2000/07/18  upgraded by Richard Gruet, from V1.3 ref: 1995/10/30, by Chris Hoffmann,

Based on:
    Python Bestiary, Author: Ken Manheimer,
    Python manuals, Author: Guido van Rossum, guido@CNRI.Reston.Va.US,
    python-mode.el, Author: Tim Peters,
    and the readers of comp.lang.python

Python's nest:
Resources: and
An excellent Python reference book: Python essential Reference by David Beazley (News Riders)


Invocation Options

python [-diOStuvxX?] [-c command | script | - ] [args]
     -d   Outputs parser debugging information (also PYTHONDEBUG=x)
     -i   Inspect interactively after running script (also PYTHONINSPECT=x,.
          and force prompts, even if stdin appears not to be a terminal
     -O   Optimize generated bytecode (set __debug__ = 0 =>s suppresses asserts)
     -S   Don't perform 'import site' on initialization
     -t   Issue warnings about inconsistent tab usage (-tt: issue errors)
     -u   Unbuffered binary stdout and stderr (also PYTHONUNBUFFERED=x).
     -v   Verbose (trace import statements) (also PYTHONVERBOSE=x)
     -x   Skip first line of source, allowing use of non-unix
          Forms of #!cmd
     -X   Disable class based built-in exceptions (for backward
          compatibility management of exceptions)
     -?   Help!

     -c command
            Specify the command  to  execute  (see  next  section).
            This terminates the option list (following options are
            passed as arguments to the command).
        script is the name of a python file (.py) to execute
        -   read from stdin.
     Anything afterward is passed as options to python script or
        command, not interpreted as an option to interpreter itself.

     args are passed to script or command (in sys.argv[1:])
=> If no script or command, Python enters interactive mode.

Environment variables


          Alternate prefix directory (or prefix;exec_prefix). The default module search path uses prefix/lib
 Augments the default search path for module files. The format is the same as the shell's $PATH:

           one or more directory pathnames separated by ':' or ';' without spaces around (semi-)colons!
On Windows first search for Registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Python\PythonCore\

          x.y\PythonPath (default value). You may also define a key named after your application with a
          default string value giving the root directory path of your app.
 If this is the name of a readable file, the Python commands in that file are executed before

           the first prompt is displayed in interactive mode (no default).
 If non-empty, same as -d option
 If non-empty, same as -i option
 If non-empty, same as -s option
 If non-empty, same as -u option
 If non-empty, same as -v option
PYTHONCASEOK --to be verified--
 If non-empty, ignore case in file/module names (imports)

Notable lexical entities


and       del       for       is        raise    
assert    elif      from      lambda    return   
break     else      global    not       try      
class     except    if        or        while    
continue  exec      import    pass               
def       finally   in        print


        (letter | "_")  (letter | digit | "_")*


"a string enclosed by double quotes"
'another string delimited by single quotes and with a " inside'
'''a string containing embedded newlines and quote (') marks, can be
delimited with triple quotes.'''
""" may also use 3- double quotes as delimiters """
r'a raw string where \ are kept (literalized): handy for regular expressions and windows paths!'
R"another raw string"    -- raw strings cannot end with a \
  • Use \ at end of line to continue a string on next line.
  • adjacent strings are concatened, e.g. 'Monty' ' Python' is the same as 'Monty Python'.
  • String Literal Escapes

         \newline  Ignored (escape newline)
         \\ Backslash (\)        \e Escape (ESC)            \v Vertical Tab (VT)
         \' Single quote (')     \f Formfeed (FF)           \0OO  (zero) char with 
         \" Double quote (")     \n Linefeed (LF)                 octal value OO
         \a Bell (BEL)           \r Carriage Return (CR)    \xXX  char with 
         \b Backspace (BS)       \t Horizontal Tab (TAB)          hex value XX
         \AnyOtherChar is left as-is


  • Decimal integer: 1234, 1234567890546378940L        (or l)
  • Octal integer: 0177, 0177777777777777777L (begin with a 0)
  • Hex integer: 0xFF, 0XFFFFffffFFFFFFFFFFL (begin with 0x or 0X)
  • Long integer (unlimited precision): 1234567890123456L (ends with L or l)
  • Float (double precision): 3.14e-10, .001, 10., 1E3
  • Complex: 1J, 2+3J, 4+5j (ends with J or j, + separates (float) real and imaginary parts)
  • Sequences

    Indexing is 0-based. Negative indices (usually) mean count backwards from end of sequence.

    Sequence slicing [starting-at-index : but-less-than-index]. Start defaults to '0'; End defaults to 'sequence-length'.

    Dictionaries (Mappings)

    Dictionary of length 0, 1, 2, etc:
    {} {1 : 'first'} {1 : 'first',  'next': 'second'}

    Operators and their evaluation order

    (...) [...] {...} `...` Tuple, list & dict. creation; string conv.
    s[i]  s[i:j]  s.attr f(...) indexing & slicing; attributes, fct calls
    +x, -x, ~x Unary operators
    x**y Power
    x*y  x/y  x%y mult, division, modulo
    x+y  x-y addition, substraction
    x<<y   x>>y Bit shifting
    x&y Bitwise and
    x^y Bitwise exclusive or
    x|y Bitwise or
    x<y  x<=y  x>y  x>=y  x==y x!=y  x<>y
    x is y   x is not
    x in s   x not in s
    not x boolean negation
    x and y boolean and
    x or y boolean or
    Lowest lambda args: expr anonymous function
  • Alternate names are defined in module operator (e.g. __add__ and add for +)
  • Most operators are overridable

  • Basic Types and Their Operations

    Comparisons (defined between *any* types)

            <       strictly less than      
            <=      less than or equal      
            >       strictly greater than   
            >=      greater than or equal   
            ==      equal   
            !=      not equal  ( "<>" is also allowed)
            is      object identity (are objects identical, not values)
            is not  negated object identity

    Boolean values and operators

          False values:     None, numeric zeros, empty sequences and mappings,
          True values:      all other values
          not X: if X is false then 1, else 0
          X or Y: if X is false then Y, else X
          X and Y: if X is false then X, else Y


    None is used as default return value on functions. Built-in single object with type NoneType.
    Input that evaluates to None does not print when running Python interactively.

    Numeric types

    Floats, integers and long integers.

    Floats are implemented with C doubles.
    Integers are implemented with C longs.
    Long integers have unlimited size (only limit is system resources)

    Operators on all numeric types

            abs(x)  absolute value of x     
            int(x)  x converted to integer  
            long(x) x converted to long integer     
            float(x) x converted to floating point   
            -x      x negated       
            +x      x unchanged     
            x + y   sum of x and y  
            x - y   difference of x and y   
            x * y   product of x and y      
            x / y   quotient of x and y     
            x % y   remainder of x / y
            divmod(x, y) the tuple (x/y, x%y)
            x ** y  x to the power y [same as: pow(x,y)]

    Bit operators on integers and long integers

            ~x      the bits of x inverted  
            x ^ y   bitwise exclusive or of x and y 
            x & y   bitwise and of x and y  
            x | y   bitwise or of x and y   
            x << n  x shifted left by n bits        
            x >> n  x shifted right by n bits

    Complex Numbers

    Numeric exceptions

    raised on application of arithmetic operation to non-number
     numeric bounds exceeded
     raised when zero second argument of div or modulo op

    Operations on all sequence types (lists, tuples, strings)

    x in s 1 if an item of s is equal to x, else 0  
    x not in s 0 if an item of s is equal to x, else 1
    s + t the concatenation of s and t  
    s * n, n*s n copies of s concatenated
    s[i] i'th item of s, origin 0
    s[i:j] slice of s from i (included) to j (excluded)
    (1), (2)
    len(s) length of s  
    min(s) smallest item of s
    max(s) largest item of (s)
    Notes :
        (1) if i or j is negative, the index is relative to the end of the string, ie len(s)+ i or len(s)+j is
             substituted. But note that -0 is still 0.
        (2) The slice of s from i to j is defined as the sequence of items with index k such that i <= k < j.
              If i or j is greater than len(s), use len(s). If i is omitted, use len(s). If i is greater than or
              equal to j, the slice is empty.

    Operations on mutable (=modifiable) sequences (lists)

    s[i] =x item i of s is replaced by x  
    s[i:j] = t slice of s from i to j is replaced by t
    del s[i:j] same as s[i:j] = []  
    s.append(x) same as s[len(s) : len(s)] = [x]
    s.extend(x) same as s[len(s):len(s)]= x    (5)
    s.count(x) return number of i's for which s[i] == x  
    s.index(x) return smallest i such that s[i] == x
    s.insert(i, x) same as s[i:i] = [x] if i >= 0  
    s.remove(x) same as del s[s.index(x)]
    s.pop([i]) same as x = s[i]; del s[i]; return x    (4)
    s.reverse() reverse the items of s in place
    s.sort([cmpFct]) sort the items of s in place
    (2), (3)

    Notes :
        (1) raise a ValueError exception when x is not found in s (i.e. out of range).
         (2) The sort() method takes an optional argument specifying a comparison fct of 2 arguments (list items) which should
              return -1, 0, or 1 depending on whether the 1st argument is considered smaller than, equal to, or larger than the 2nd
              argument. Note that this slows the sorting process down considerably.
         (3) The sort() and reverse() methods modify the list in place for economy of space when sorting or reversing a large list.
               They don't return the sorted or reversed list to remind you of this side effect.
         (4) [New 1.5.2] The pop() method is experimental and not supported by other mutable sequence types than lists.
              The optional  argument i defaults to -1, so that by default the last item is removed and returned.
         (5) [New 1.5.2] Experimental ! Raises an exception when x is not a list object.

    Operations on mappings (dictionaries)

    len(d) the number of items in d  
    d[k] the item of d with key k
    d[k] = x set d[k] to x  
    del d[k] remove d[k] from d
    d.clear() remove all items from d  
    d.copy() a shallow copy of d  
    d.has_key(k) 1 if d has key k, else 0  
    d.items() a copy of d's list of (key, item) pairs
    d.keys() a copy of d's list of keys
    d1.update(d2) for k, v in d2.items(): d1[k] = v
    d.values() a copy of d's list of values
    d.get(k,defaultval) the item of d with key k
    Notes :
      TypeError is raised if key is not acceptable
      (1) KeyError is raised if key k is not in the map
      (2) Keys and values are listed in random order
      (3) d2 must be of the same type as d1
      (4) Never raises an exception if k is not in the map, instead it returns defaultVal.
          defaultVal is optional, when not provided and k is not in the map, None is returned.

    String formatting with the % operator

    formatString % args    --> evaluates to a string
            '%s has %03d quote types.' % ('Python', 2)  # => 'Python has 002 quote types.'
            a = '%(lang)s has %(c)03d quote types.' % {'c':2, 'lang':'Python}
    (vars() function very handy to use on right-hand-side.)

    File Objects

    Created with built-in function open; may be created by other modules' functions as well.

    Operators on file objects

         f.close()              Close file f.
         f.fileno()             Get fileno (fd) for f.
         f.flush()              Flush file's internal buffer.
         f.isatty()             1 if file is connected to a tty-like dev, else 0[size])         Read at most size bytes from file and return
                                 as a string object. If size omitted, read to EOF.
         f.readline()          Read one entire line from file
         f.readlines()         Read until EOF with readline() and return list
                                  of lines read.
    , whence=0) Set file's position, like "stdio's fseek()". 
                                     whence == 0 then use absolute indexing
                                                  whence == 1 then offset relative to current pos
                                                  whence == 2 then offset relative to file end
         f.tell()               Return file's current position (byte offset)
         f.write(str)           Write string to file.
         f.writelines(list)    Write list of strings to file.

    File Exceptions

     End-of-file hit when reading (may be raised many times, e.g. if f is a tty).
     Other I/O-related I/O operation failure

    Advanced Types

    -See manuals for more details -


    pass            -- Null statement
    =               -- Assignment operator. Can unpack tuples, lists, strings
                       first, second = a[0:2]; [f, s] = range(2); c1,c2,c3='abc'
                       Tip: x,y = y,x swaps x and y.
    del name[,name]* -- Unbind name(s) from object. Object will be indirectly
                        (and automatically) deleted only if no longer referenced.
    print [s1 [, s2 ]* [,]
                    -- Writes to sys.stdout.
                       Puts spaces between arguments. Puts newline at end
                       unless statement ends with comma.
                       Print is not required when running interactively,
                       simply typing an expression will print its value,
                       unless the value is None.
    exec x [in globals [,locals]]
                    -- Executes x in namespaces provided. Defaults
                       to current namespaces. x can be a string, file
                       object or a function object.
    f(value,... [id=value])
                    -- Call function 'f' with parameters. Parameters can
                       be passed by name or be omitted if function 
                       defines default values. E.g. for 'f' is defined as
                       "def f(p1=1, p2=2)"
                       "f()"       <=>  "f(1, 2)"
                       "f(10)"     <=>  "f(10, 2)"
                       "f(p2=99)"  <=>  "f(1, 99)"

    Control Flow

    if condition: suite
    [elif condition: suite]*
    [else: suite]   -- usual if/else_if/else statement
    while condition: suite
    [else: suite]
                    -- usual while statement. "else" suite is executed
                       after loop exits, unless the loop is exited with
    for element in sequence: suite
    [else: suite]
                    -- iterates over sequence, assigning each element to element.
                       Use built-in range function to iterate a number of times.
                       "else" suite executed at end unless loop exited
                       with "break"
    break           -- immediately exits "for" or "while" loop
    continue        -- immediately does next iteration of "for" or "while" loop
    return [result] -- Exits from function (or method) and returns result (use a tuple to
                       return more than one value). If no result given, then returns None.

    Exception Statements

    assert expr[, message]
                    -- expr is evaluated. if false, raises exception AssertionError
                       with message. Inhibited if __debug__ is 0.
    try: suite1
    [except [exception [, value]: suite2]+
    [else: suite3]
                    -- statements in suite1 are executed. If an exception occurs, look
                       in "except" clauses for matching <exception>. If matches or bare
                       "except" execute suite of that clause. If no exception happens
                       suite in "else" clause is executed after suite1.
                       If exception has a value, it is put in value.
                       exception can also be tuple of exceptions, e.g.
                       "except (KeyError, NameError), val: print val"
    try: suite1
    finally: suite2
                    -- statements in suite1 are executed. If no
                       exception, execute suite2 (even if suite1 is
                       exited with a "return", "break" or "continue"
                       statement). If exception did occur, executes 
                       suite2 and then immediately reraises exception.
    raise exception [,value [, traceback]]
                    -- raises exception with optional value
                       value. Arg traceback specifies a traceback object to
                       use when printing the exception's backtrace.
    raise           -- a raise statement without arguments re-raises
                       the last exception raised in the current function
  • An exception is either a string (object) or a class instance.

  •   Can create a new one simply by creating a new string:

                  my_exception = 'You did something wrong'
                       if bad:
                      raise my_exception, bad
             Except my_exception, value:
                        print 'Oops', value

  • Exception classes must be derived from the predefined class: Exception, e.g.:
  •             class text_exception(Exception): pass
                    if bad:
                        raise text_exception()
                        # This is a shorthand for the form
                        # "raise <class>, <instance>"
                 except Exception:
                     print 'Oops'
                     # This will be printed because
                     # text_exception is a subclass of Exception
    When an error message is printed for an unhandled exception which is a
    class, the class name is printed, then a colon and a space, and
    finally the instance converted to a string using the built-in function
    All built-in exception classes derives from StandardError, itself
    derived from Exception.

    Name Space Statements

    [1.51: On Mac & Windows, the case of module file names must now match the case as used
      in the import statement]
    Packages (>1.5): a package is a name space which maps to a directory including
                    module(s) and the special initialization module ''
                    (possibly empty). Packages/dirs can be nested. You address a
                    module's symbol via '[package.[package...]module.symbol's.
    import module1 [, module2]*
                    -- imports modules. Members of module must be 
                       referred to by qualifying with [package.]module name:
                       "import sys; print sys.argv:"
                       "import package1.subpackage.module;"
    from module import name1 [, name2]*
                    -- imports names from module module in current namespace.
                       "from sys import argv; print argv"
                       "from package1 import module;"
                       "from package1.module import foo; foo()"
    from module import *
                    -- imports all names in module, except those starting with "_";
                       *to be used sparsely, beware of name clashes* :
                       "from sys import *; print argv"
                       "from package.module import *; print x'
                        NB: "from package import *" only imports the symbols defined
                        in the package's file, not those in the
                        template modules'!
    global name1 [, name2]*
                    -- names are from global scope (usually meaning from module)
                       rather than local (usually meaning only in function).
                    -- E.g. in fct without "global" statements, assuming
                       "a" is name that hasn't been used in fct or module
                       so far:
                       -Try to read from "a" -> NameError
                       -Try to write to "a" -> creates "a" local to fcn
                       -If "a" not defined in fct, but is in module, then
                           -Try to read from "a", gets value from module
                           -Try to write to "a", creates "a" local to fct
                       But note "a[0]=3" starts with search for "a",
                       will use to global "a" if no local "a".

    Function Definition

    def func_id ([param_list]): suite
                    -- Creates a function object & binds it to name func_id.
    param_list ::= [id [, id]*]
    id ::= value | id = value | *id | **id
    [Args are passed by value.Thus only args representing a mutable object
    can be modified (are inout parameters). Use a tuple to return more than
    one value]
            def test (p1, p2 = 1+1, *rest, **keywords):
                -- Parameters with "=" have default value (v is
                   evaluated when function defined).
                   If list has "*id" then id is assigned a tuple of
                   all remaining args passed to function (like C vararg)
                   If list has "**id" then id is assigned a dictionary of
                   all extra arguments passed as keywords.

    Class Definition

    class <class_id> [(<super_class1> [,<super_class2>]*)]: <suite>
            -- Creates a class object and assigns it name <class_id>
               <suite> may contain local "defs" of class methods and
               assignments to class attributes.
           class my_class (class1, class_list[3]): ...
                      Creates a class object inheriting from both "class1" and whatever  
                      class object "class_list[3]" evaluates to. Assigns new
                      class object to name "my_class".
            - First arg to class methods is always instance object, called 'self'
              by convention.
            - Special method __init__() is called when instance is created.
            - Special method __del__() called when no more reference to object.
            - Create instance by "calling" class object, possibly with arg
              (thus instance=apply(aClassObject, args...) creates an instance!)
            - In current implementation, can't subclass off built-in
              classes. But can "wrap" them, see UserDict & UserList modules,
              and see __getattr__() below.
            class c (c_parent): 
               def __init__(self, name): = name
               def print_name(self): print "I'm",
               def call_parent(self): c_parent.print_name(self)
               instance = c('tom')
               "I'm tom"
            Call parent's super class by accessing parent's method
            directly and passing "self" explicitly (see "call_parent"
            in example above).
            Many other special methods available for implementing
            arithmetic operators, sequence, mapping indexing, etc.

    Documentation Strings

    Modules, classes and functions may be documented by placing a string literal by itself as the first statement in the suite. The documentation can be retrieved by getting the '__doc__' attribute from the module, class or function.
            class C:
                "A description of C"
                def __init__(self):
                    "A description of the constructor"
                    # etc.
    Then c.__doc__ == "A description of C".
    Then c.__init__.__doc__ == "A description of the constructor".


    lambda [param_list]: returnedExpr
                    -- Creates an anonymous function. returnedExpr must be
                       an expression, not a statement (e.g., not "if xx:...", 
                       "print xxx", etc.) and thus can't contain newlines.
                       Used mostly for filter(), map(), reduce() functions.

    Built-In Functions

    __import__(name[, globals[, locals[, fromlist]]])
                    Imports module within the given context (see lib ref for more details)
    abs(x)          Return the absolute value of number x.
    apply(f, args[, keywords])
                    Calls func/method f with arguments args and optional keywords.
    callable(x)     Returns 1 if x callable, else 0.
    chr(i)          Returns one-character string whose ASCII code is
                    integer i
    cmp(x,y)        Returns negative, 0, positive if x <, ==, > to y
    coerce(x,y)     Returns a tuple of the two numeric arguments converted to
                    a common type.
    compile(string, filename, kind) 
                    Compiles string into a code object.
                    filename is used in error message, can be any string. It is
                    usually the file from which the code was read, or eg. '<string>'
                    if not read from file.
                    kind can be 'eval' if string is a single stmt, or 'single'
                    which prints the output of expression statements that
                    evaluate to something else than None, or be 'exec'.
    complex(real[, image])
                    Builds a complex object (can also be done using J or j suffix,
                    e.g. 1+3J)
    delattr(obj, name)
                    deletes attribute named name of object obj <=> del
    dir([object])   If no args, returns the list of names in current local
                    symbol table. With a module, class or class instance
                    object as arg, returns list of names in its attr. dict.
    divmod(a,b)     Returns tuple of (a/b, a%b)
    eval(s[, globals[, locals]])
                    Eval string s in (optional) globals, locals contexts. 
                    s must have no NULL's or newlines. s can also be a
                    code object.
                    Example: x = 1; incr_x = eval('x + 1')
    execfile(file[, globals[, locals]])
                    Executes a file without creating a new module, unlike import.
    filter(function, sequence)
                    Constructs a list from those elements of sequence for which
                    function returns true. function takes one parameter.
    float(x)        Converts a number or a string to floating point. 
    getattr(object, name[, default]))    [<default> arg added in 1.5.2]
                    Gets attribute called name from object,
                    e.g. getattr(x, 'f') <=> x.f). If not found, raises
                    AttributeError or returns default if specified.
    globals()       Returns a dictionary containing current global variables.
    hasattr(object, name)
                    Returns true if object has attr called name.
    hash(object)    Returns the hash value of the object (if it has one)
    hex(x)          Converts a number x to a hexadecimal string.
    id(object)      Returns a unique 'identity' integer for an object.
    input([prompt]) Prints prompt if given. Reads input and evaluates it.
    int(x)          Converts a number or a string to a plain integer.
                    Enters aString in the table of "interned strings" and
                    returns the string. Interned strings are 'immortals'.
    isinstance(obj, class)
                    returns true if obj is an instance of class. If
                    issubclass(A,B) then isinstance(x,A) => isinstance(x,B)
    issubclass(class1, class2)
                    returns true if class1 is derived from class2
    len(obj)        Returns the length (the number of items) of an object
                    (sequence, dictionary, or instance of class implementing __len__).
                    Converts sequence into a list. If already a list,
                    returns a copy of it.
    locals()        Returns a dictionary containing current local variables.
    long(x)         Converts a number or a string to a long integer.
    map(function, list, ...)
                    Applies function to every item of list and returns a list
                    of the results.  If additional arguments are passed, 
                    function must take that many arguments and it is given
                    to function on each call.
    max(seq)        Returns the largest item of the non-empty sequence seq.
    min(seq)        Returns the smallest item of a non-empty sequence seq.
    oct(x)          Converts a number to an octal string.
    open(filename [, mode='r', [bufsize=implementation dependent]])
                    Returns a new file object. First two args are same as 
                    those for C's "stdio open" function. bufsize is 0
                    for unbuffered, 1 for line-buffered, negative for
                    sys-default, all else, of (about) given size.
    ord(c)          Returns integer ASCII value of c (a string of len 1).
    pow(x, y [, z]) Returns x to power y [modulo z]. See also ** operator.
    range(start [,end [, step]])
                    Returns list of ints from >= start and < end. 
                      With 1 arg, list from 0..arg-1
                      With 2 args, list from start..end-1
                      With 3 args, list from start up to end by step
                    Prints prompt if given, then reads string from std
                    input (no trailing \n). See also input().
    reduce(f, list [, init])
                    Applies the binary function f to the items of
                    list so as to reduce the list to a single value.
                    If init given, it is "prepended" to list.
    reloads(module) Re-parses and re-initializes an already imported module.
                    Useful in interactive mode, if you want to reload a
                    module after fixing it. If module was syntactically
                    correct but had an error in initialization, must
                    import it one more time before calling reload().
    repr(object) Returns a string containing a printable and if possible
                    evaluable representation of an object. <=> `object` (using
                    backquotes). Class redefinissable (__repr__). See also str() 
    round(x, n=0)   Returns the floating point value x rounded to n digits
                    after the decimal point.
    setattr(object, name, value)
                    This is the counterpart of getattr().
                    setattr(o, 'foobar', 3) <=> o.foobar = 3
                    Creates attribute if it doesn't exist!
    slice([start,] stop[, step])
                    Returns a slice object representing a range, with R/O
                    attributes: start, stop, step.
    str(object)  Returns a string containing a nicely printable
                    representation of an object. Class overridable (__str__).
                    See also repr().
    tuple(sequence) Creates a tuple with same elements as sequence. If
                    already a tuple, return itself (not a copy).
    type(obj)       Returns a type object [see module types] representing the
                    type of obj. Example: import types
                    if type(x) == types.StringType: print 'It is a string'
                    NB: it is recommanded to use the following form:
                    if isinstance(x, types.StringType): etc...
    vars([object])  Without arguments, returns a dictionary corresponding
                    to the current local symbol table.  With a module,
                    class or class instance object as argument   
                    returns a dictionary corresponding to the object's
                    symbol table. Useful with "%" formatting operator.
    xrange(start [, end [, step]])
                    Like range(), but doesn't actually store entire list
                    all at once. Good to use in "for" loops when there is a
                    big range and little memory.

    Built-In Exceptions

             Root class for all exceptions
             On 'sys.exit()'
                     Base class for all built-in exceptions; derived from Exception root class.
                     Base class for OverflowError, ZeroDivisionError, FloatingPointError
                           When a floating point operation fails.

                            On excessively large arithmetic operation
                  On division or modulo operation with 0 as 2nd arg

                    When an assert statement fails.

                    On attribute reference or assignment failure
            EnvironmentError    [new in 1.5.2]
                    On error outside Python; error arg tuple is (errno, errMsg...)
                IOError    [changed in 1.5.2]
               I/O-related operation failure
                OSError    [new in 1.5.2]
               used by the os module's os.error exception.

                    Immediate end-of-file hit by input() or raw_input()
         On failure of `import' to find module or name
         On user entry of the interrupt key (often `Control-C')
                    base class for IndexError, KeyError
                 On out-of-range sequence subscript
                 On reference to a non-existent mapping (dict) key
         On recoverable memory exhaustion
         On failure to find a local or global (unqualified) name
         Obsolete catch-all; define a suitable error instead

          NotImplementedError   [new in 1.5.2]
                On method not implemented
         On parser encountering a syntax error
         On non-fatal interpreter error - bug - report it
         On passing inappropriate type to built-in op or func
         On arg error not covered by TypeError or more precise

    Standard methods & operators redefinition in classes

    Standard methods & operators map to special '__methods__' and thus may be
     redefined (mostly in in user-defined classes), e.g.:
        class x: 
             def __init__(self, v): self.value = v
             def __add__(self, r): return self.value + r
        a = x(3) # sort of like calling x.__init__(a, 3)
        a + 4    # is equivalent to a.__add__(4)

    Special methods for any class

    (s: self, o: other)
            __init__(s, args) instance initialization (on construction) 
            __del__(s)        called on object demise (refcount becomes 0)
            __repr__(s)       repr() and `...` conversions
            __str__(s)        str() and 'print' statement
            __cmp__(s, o)     Compares s to o and returns <0, 0, or >0. 
                              Implements >, <, == etc...
            __hash__(s)       Compute a 32 bit hash code; hash() and dictionary ops
            __nonzero__(s)    Returns 0 or 1 for truth value testing
            __getattr__(s, name)  called when attr lookup doesn't find <name>
            __setattr__(s, name, val) called when setting an attr
                                      (inside, don't use " = value"
                                       use "self.__dict__[name] = val")
            __delattr__(s, name)  called to delete attr <name>
            __call__(self, *args) called when an instance is called as function.


    See list in the operator module. Operator function names are provided with 2 variants, with or without
    ading & trailing '__' (eg. __add__ or add).

    Numeric operations special methods
    (s: self, o: other)

            s+o       =  __add__(s,o)         s-o        =  __sub__(s,o)
            s*o       =  __mul__(s,o)         s/o        =  __div__(s,o)
            s%o       =  __mod__(s,o)         divmod(s,o) = __divmod__(s,o)
            pow(s,o)  =  __pow__(s,o)
            s&o       =  __and__(s,o)         
            s^o       =  __xor__(s,o)         s|o        =  __or__(s,o)
            s<<o      =  __lshift__(s,o)      s>>o       =  __rshift__(s,o)
            nonzero(s) = __nonzero__(s) (used in boolean testing)
            -s        =  __neg__(s)           +s         =  __pos__(s)  
            abs(s)    =  __abs__(s)           ~s         =  __invert__(s)  (bitwise)
            int(s)    =  __int__(s)           long(s)    =  __long__(s)
            float(s)  =  __float__(s)         complex(s)    =  __complex__(s)
            oct(s)    =  __oct__(s)           hex(s)     =  __hex__(s)
            coerce(s,o) = __coerce__(s,o)
            Right-hand-side equivalents for all binary operators exist;
            are called when class instance is on r-h-s of operator:
            a + 3  calls __add__(a, 3)
            3 + a  calls __radd__(a, 3)
    All seqs and maps, general operations plus:
    (s: self, i: index or key)
            len(s)    = __len__(s)        length of object, >= 0.  Length 0 == false
            s[i]      = __getitem__(s,i)  Element at index/key i, origin 0
    Sequences, general methods, plus:
      s[i]=v           = __setitem__(s,i,v)
      del s[i]         = __delitem__(s,i)
      s[i:j]           = __getslice__(s,i,j)
      s[i:j]=seq       = __setslice__(s,i,j,seq)
      del s[i:j]       = __delslice__(s,i,j)   == s[i:j] = []
      seq * n          = __repeat__(seq, n)
      s1 + s2          = __concat__(s1, s2)
    Mappings, general methods, plus
      hash(s)          = __hash__(s) - hash value for dictionary references
      s[k]=v           = __setitem__(s,k,v)
      del s[k]         = __delitem__(s,k)

    Special informative state attributes for some types:

        Lists & Dictionaries:
            __methods__ (list, R/O): list of method names of the object
            __doc__ (string/None, R/O): doc string (<=> __dict__['__doc__'])
            __name__(string, R/O): module name (also in __dict__['__name__'])
            __dict__ (dict, R/O): module's name space
            __file__(string/undefined, R/O): pathname of .pyc, .pyo or .pyd (undef for
                     modules statically linked to the interpreter)
            __path__(string/undefined, R/O): fully qualified package name when applies.
        Classes:    [in bold: writable since 1.5.2]
            __doc__ (string/None, R/W): doc string (<=> __dict__['__doc__'])
            __name__(string, R/W): class name (also in __dict__['__name__'])
            __bases__ (tuple, R/W): parent classes
            __dict__ (dict, R/W): attributes (class name space)
            __class__ (class, R/W): instance's class
            __dict__ (dict, R/W): attributes
        User-defined functions: [bold: writable since 1.5.2]
            __doc__ (string/None, R/W): doc string
            __name__(string, R/O): function name
            func_doc (R/W): same as __doc__
            func_name (R/O): same as __name__
            func_defaults (tuple/None, R/W): default args values if any
            func_code (code, R/W): code object representing the compiled function body
            func_globals (dict, R/O): ref to dictionary of func global variables
        User-defined Methods:
            __doc__ (string/None, R/O): doc string
            __name__(string, R/O): method name (same as im_func.__name__)
            im_class (class, R/O): class defining the method (may be a base class)
            im_self (instance/None, R/O): target instance object (None if unbound)
            im_func (function, R/O): function object
        Built-in Functions & methods:
            __doc__ (string/None, R/O): doc string
            __name__ (string, R/O): function name
            __self__ : [methods only] target object
            __members__ = list of attr names: ['__doc__','__name__','__self__'])
            co_name (string, R/O): function name
            co_argcount (int, R/0): number of positional args
            co_nlocals (int, R/O): number of local vars (including args)
            co_varnames (tuple, R/O): names of local vars (starting with args)
            co_code (string, R/O): sequence of bytecode instructions
            co_consts (tuple, R/O): litterals used by the bytecode, 1st one is
                                    fct doc (or None)
            co_names (tuple, R/O): names used by the bytecode
            co_filename (string, R/O): filename from which the code was compiled
            co_firstlineno (int, R/O): first line number of the function
            co_lnotab (string, R/O): string encoding bytecode offsets to line numbers.
            co_stacksize (int, R/O): required stack size (including local vars)
            co_firstlineno (int, R/O): first line number of the function
            co_flags (int, R/O): flags for the interpreter
                               bit 2 set if fct uses "*arg" syntax
                               bit 3 set if fct uses '**keywords' syntax
            f_back (frame/None, R/O): previous stack frame (toward the caller)
            f_code (code, R/O): code object being executed in this frame
            f_locals (dict, R/O): local vars
            f_globals (dict, R/O): global vars
            f_builtins (dict, R/O): built-in (intrinsic) names
            f_restricted (int, R/O): flag indicating whether fct is executed in
                                     restricted mode
            f_lineno (int, R/O): current line number
            f_lasti (int, R/O): precise instruction (index into bytecode)
            f_trace (function/None, R/W): debug hook called at start of each source line
            f_exc_type (Type/None, R/W): Most recent exception type
            f_exc_value (any, R/W): Most recent exception value
            f_exc_traceback (traceback/None, R/W): Most recent exception traceback
            tb_next (frame/None, R/O): next level in stack trace (toward the frame where
                                      the exception occurred)
            tb_frame (frame, R/O): execution frame of the current level
            tb_lineno (int, R/O): line number where the exception occured
            tb_lasti (int, R/O): precise instruction (index into bytecode)
            start (any/None, R/O): lowerbound
            stop (any/None, R/O): upperbound
            step (any/None, R/O): step value
        Complex numbers:
            real (float, R/O): real part
            imag (float, R/O): imaginary part
            tolist (Built-in method, R/O): ?

    Important Modules

    Some variables:
    argv            -- The list of command line arguments passed to a 
                       Python script. sys.argv[0] is the script name.
                    -- A list of strings giving the names of all modules
                       written in C that are linked into this interpreter.
    check_interval  -- How often to check for thread switches or signals 
                       (measured in number of virtual machine instructions)
    exc_traceback   -- Deprecated since release 1.5. Use exc_info() instead.
    exitfunc        -- User can set to a parameterless fcn. It will get
                       called before interpreter exits.
    last_traceback  -- Set only when an exception not handled and
                       interpreter prints an error. Used by debuggers.
    maxint          -- maximum positive value for integers
    modules         -- Dictionary of modules that have already been loaded.
    path            -- Search path for external modules. Can be modified
                       by program. sys.path[0] == dir of script executing
    platform        -- The current platform, e.g. "sunos5", "win32"
    ps2             -- prompts to use in interactive mode.
    stderr          -- File objects used for I/O. One can redirect by
                       assigning a new file object to them (or any object:
                         .with a method write(string) for stdout/stderr,
                         .with a method readline() for stdin)
    version         -- string containing version info about Python interpreter.
    (and also: copyright, dllhandle, exec_prefix, prefix)
    exit(n)         -- Exits with status n. Raises SystemExit exception.
                       (Hence can be caught and ignored by program)
                    -- Returns the reference count of the object. Generally 1 higher
                       than you might expect, because of object arg temp reference.
                    -- Sets the interpreter's thread switching interval (in number of
                       virtualcode instructions, default:10).
    settrace(func)  -- Sets a trace function: called before each line of 
                       code is exited.
                    -- Sets a profile function for performance profiling.
    exc_info()      -- Info on exception currently being handled; this is a
                       tuple (exc_type, exc_value, exc_traceback).
                       Warning: assigning the traceback return value to a loca variable in a function
                               handling an exception will cause a circular reference.

    "synonym" for whatever O/S-specific module is proper for current environment. this module uses posix whenever possible.
    (see also M.A. Lemburg's utility

    name          -- name of O/S-specific module (e.g. "posix", "mac", "nt")
    path            -- O/S-specific module for path manipulations.
                           on Unix, os.path.split() <=> posixpath.split()
    curdir         -- string used to represent current directory ('.')
    pardir         -- string used to represent parent directory ('..')
    sep            -- string used to separate directories ('/' or '\'). Tip: use os.path.join() to build portable paths.
    altsep         -- Alternate sep if applicable (None otherwise)
    pathsep      -- character used to separate search path components (as in $PATH), eg. ';' for windows.
    linesep        -- [1.5.2] line separator as used in binary files, ie '\n' on Unix, '\r\n' on Dos/Win, '\r' on Mac

    makedirs(path[, mode=0777])        [new in 1.5.2]
                        -- Recursive directory creation (create required intermediary dirs); os.error if fails.
    removedirs(path)        [new in 1.5.2]
                        -- Recursive directory delete (delete intermediary empty dirs); os.error if fails.
    renames(old, new)        [new in 1.5.2]
                        -- Recursive directory or file renaming; os.error if fails.

    don't import this module directly, import os instead !


    environ         -- dictionary of environment variables, e.g.
                       posix.environ['HOME']. [Windows: before release 1.52 case is significant; from 1.52,
                       os.environ is all uppercase but accesses are case insensitive]
    error           -- exception raised on POSIX-related error. 
                       Corresponding value is tuple of errno code and
                       perror() string.
    Some Functions :     (see also module: shutil for file copy & remove fcts)
    chdir(path)     -- Changes current directory to path.
    chmod(path, mode)
                    -- Changes the mode of path to the numeric mode
    close(fd)       -- Closes file descriptor fd opened with
    _exit(n)        -- Immediate exit, with no cleanups, no SystemExit,
                       etc. Should use this to exit a child process.
    execv(p, args)  -- "Become" executable p with args args
    getcwd()        -- Returns a string representing the current working directory
    getpid()        -- Returns the current process id
    fork()          -- Like C's fork(). Returns 0 to child, child pid to parent.
                       [Not on Windows]
    kill(pid, signal)-- Like C's kill [Not on Windows]
    listdir(path)   -- Lists (base)names of entries in directory path, excluding '.' and '..'
    lseek(fd, pos, how)
                    -- Sets current position in file fd to position pos, expressed
                       as an offset relative to beginning of file (how=0), to
                       current position (how=1), or to end of file (how=2)
    mkdir(path[, mode])
                    -- Creates a directory named path with numeric mode
                       (default 0777)
    open(file, flags, mode)
                    -- Like C's open(). Returns file descriptor. Use file object fcts
                       rather than this low level ones.
    pipe()          -- Creates a pipe. Returns pair of file descriptors (r, w) [Not on Windows].
    popen(command, mode='r', bufSize=0)
                    -- Opens a pipe to or from command. Result is a file object to read to or
                       write from, as indicated by mode being 'r' or 'w'. Use it to catch a
                       command output ('r' mode) or to feed it ('w'  mode).
    remove(path)    -- See unlink.
    rename(src, dst)-- Renames/moves the file or directory src to dst. [error if
                       target name already exists]
    rmdir(path)     -- Removes the empty directory path
    read(fd, n)     -- Reads n bytes from file descriptor fd and return as string.
    stat(path)      -- Returns st_mode, st_ino, st_dev, st_nlink, st_uid,
                       st_gid, st_size, st_atime, st_mtime, st_ctime.
                       [st_ino, st_uid, st_gid are dummy on Windows] 
    system(command) -- Executes string command in a subshell. Returns exit
                       status of subshell (usually 0 means OK).
    times()         -- Returns accumulated CPU times in sec (user, system, children's user,
                       children's sys, elapsed real time). [3 last not on Windows]
    unlink(path)    -- Unlinks ("deletes") the file (not dir!) path. same as: remove
    utime(path, (aTime, mTime))
                    -- Sets the access & modified time of the file to the given tuple of values.
    wait()          -- Waits for child process completion. Returns tuple of
                       pid, exit_status [Not on Windows]
    waitpid(pid, options)
                    -- Waits for process pid to complete. Returns tuple of
                       pid, exit_status [Not on Windows]
    write(fd, str)  -- Writes str to file fd. Returns nb of bytes written.

    Do not import this module directly, import os instead and refer to this module as os.path. (e.g. os.path.exists(p)) !

    Some Functions (see doc for more):

    abspath(p)      -- Returns absolute path for path p, taking current working dir in account.
    dirname/basename(p) -- directory and name parts of the path p. See also split.
    exists(p)       -- True if string p is an existing path (file or directory)
    expanduser(p)   -- Returns string that is (a copy of) p with "~" expansion done.
    expandvars(p)   -- Returns string that is (a copy of) p with environment vars expanded.
                       [Windows: case significant; must use Unix: $var notation, not %var%]
    getsize(filename)        [new in 1.5.2]
                    -- return the size in bytes of filename. raise os.error.
    getmtime(filename      [new in 1.5.2]
                    -- return last modification time of filename (integer nb of seconds since epoch).
    getatime(filename      [new in 1.5.2]
                    -- return last access time of filename (integer nb of seconds since epoch).
    isabs(p)        -- True if string p is an absolute path.
    isdir(p)        -- True if string p is a directory.
    islink(p)       -- True if string p is a symbolic link.
    ismount(p)      -- True if string p is a mount point [true for all dirs on Windows].
                    -- Joins one or more path components intelligently.
    split(p)        -- Splits p into (head, tail) where tail is last
                       pathname component and <head> is everything leading
                       up to that. <=> (dirname(p), basename(p))
    splitdrive(p)   -- Splits path p in a pair ('drive:', tail) [Windows]
    splitext(p)     -- Splits into (root, ext) where last comp of root
                       contains no periods and ext is empty or starts
                       with a period.
    walk(p, visit, arg)
                    -- Calls the function visit with arguments
                       (arg, dirname, names) for each directory recursively in
                        the directory tree rooted at p (including p itself if it's a dir)
                       The argument dirname specifies the visited directory, the argument
                       names lists the files in the directory.  The visit function may
                       modify names to influence the set of directories visited below
                       dirname, e.g., to avoid visiting certain parts of the tree.
    [1.52, NT version: samefile, sameopenfile, samestat func. deprecated because not reliable]

    high-level file operations (copying, deleting).

    Main functions :

    copy(src, dst) -- Copies the contents of file src to file dst, retaining file permissions.
    copytree(src, dst[, symlinks]) -- Recursively copies an entire directory tree rooted at src
                      into dst (which should not already exist). If symlinks is true, links in
                      src are kept as such in dst.
    rmtree(path[, ignore_errors[, onerror]])
                    -- Deletes an entire directory tree, ignoring errors if ignore_errors true,
                       or calling onerror(func, path, sys.exc_info()) if supplied with 
                       func: faulty fct, path: concerned file.
    (and also: copyfile, copymode, copystat, copy2)



    altzone        -- signed  offset of local DST timezone in sec west of the 0th meridian.
    daylight       -- nonzero if a DST timezone is specified
    time()         -- return a float representing UTC time in seconds since the epoch.
    gmtime(secs), localtime(secs)
                   -- return a tuple representing time : (year aaaa, month(1-12),
                      day(1-31), hour(0-23), minute(0-59), second(0-59), weekday
                      (0-6, 0 is monday), Julian day(1-366), daylight flag(-1,0 or 1))
    strftime(format, timeTuple)
                   -- return a formated string representing time.
    mktime(tuple)  -- inverse of localtime(). Return a float.
    strptime(string[, format])        [new in 1.5.2]
                   -- parse a formated string representing time, return tuple as in gmtime().
    sleep(secs)    -- Suspend execution for <secs> seconds. <secs> can be a float.
    and also: clock, ctime.


    Some Variables:

    digits                  -- The string '0123456789'
    hexdigits, octdigits    -- legal hexadecimal & octal digits
                            -- Strings containing the appropriate characters
    index_error             -- Exception raised by index() if substr not found.
    Some Functions: 
    expandtabs(s, tabSize)  -- returns a copy of string <s> with tabs expanded.
    find/rfind(s, sub[, start=0[, end=0])
                            -- Return the lowest/highest index in <s> where the substring
                               <sub> is found such that <sub> is wholly contained in
                               s[start:end]. Return -1 if <sub> not found.
    ljust/rjust/center(s, width)
                            -- Return a copy of string <s> left/right justified/centerd in a
                               field of given width, padded with spaces. <s> is never
    lower/upper(s)          -- Return a string that is (a copy of) <s> in lowercase/uppercase
    split(s[, sep=whitespace[, maxsplit=0]])
                            -- Return a list containing the words of the string <s>,
                               using the string <sep> as a separator.
    join(words[, sep=' '])  -- Concatenate a list or tuple of words with intervening
                               separators; inverse of split.
    replace(s, old, new[, maxsplit=0]
                            -- Returns a copy of string <s> with all occurences of substring
                               <old> replaced by <new>. Limits to <maxsplit> first
                               substitutions if specified.
    strip(s)                -- Return a string that is (a copy of) <s> without leading
                               and trailing whitespace. see also lstrip, rstrip.

    Patterns are specified as strings. Tip: Use raw strings (e.g. r'\w*') to litteralize backslashes.

    Regular Expression Syntax:

    .       matches any character (including newline if DOTALL flag specified)
    ^       matches start of the string (of every line in MULTILINE mode)
    $       matches end of the string (of every line in MULTILINE mode)
    *       0 or more of preceding regular expression (as many as possible)
    +       1 or more of preceding regular expression (as many as possible)
    ?       0 or 1 occurence of preceding regular expression
    *?, +?, ?? Same as  *, + and ? but matches as few characters as possible
    {m,n}   matches from m to n repetitions of preceding RE
    {m,n}?  idem, attempting to match as few repetitions as possible
    [ ]     defines character set: e.g. '[a-zA-Z]' to match all letters
            (see also \w \S)
    [^ ]    defines complemented character set: matches if char is NOT in set
    \       escapes special chars '*?+&$|()' and introduces special sequences
            (see below). Due to Python string rules, write as '\\' or
            r'\' in the pattern string.
    \\      matches a litteral '\'; due to Python string rules, write as '\\\\'
            in pattern string, or better using raw string: r'\\'.
    |       specifies alternative: 'foo|bar' matches 'foo' or 'bar'
    (...)   matches any RE inside (), and delimits a group.
    (?:...) idem but does'nt delimit a group.
    (?=...) matches if ... matches next, but doesn't consume any of the string
            e.g. 'Isaac (?=Asimov)' matches 'Isaac' only if followed by 'Asimov'.
    (?!...) matches if ... doesn't match next. Negative of (?=...)
    (?P<name>...) matches any RE inside (), and delimits a named group.
                  (e.g. r'(?P<id>[a-zA-Z_]\w*)' defines a group named id)
    (?P=name) matches whatever text was matched by the earlier group named name.
    (?#...) A comment; ignored.
    (?letter) letter is one of 'i','L', 'm', 's', 'x'. Set the corresponding flags
            (re.I, re.L, re.M, re.S, re.X) for the entire RE.
                                SPECIAL SEQUENCES:
    \number matches content of the group of the same number; groups are numbered
            starting from 1
    \A      matches only at the start of the string
    \b      empty str at beg or end of word: '\bis\b' matches 'is', but not 'his'
    \B      empty str NOT at beginning or end of word
    \d      any decimal digit (<=> [0-9])
    \D      any non-decimal digit char (<=> [^O-9])
    \s      any whitespace char (<=> [ \t\n\r\f\v])
    \S      any non-whitespace char (<=> [^ \t\n\r\f\v])
    \w      any alphaNumeric char (depends on LOCALE flag)
    \W      any non-alphaNumeric char (depends on LOCALE flag)
    \Z      matches only at the end of the string
    error           -- Exception when pattern string isn't a valid regexp.
    compile(pattern[, flags=0])
                -- Compile a RE pattern string into a regular expression object.
                   Flags (combinable by |):
                        I or IGNORECASE or (?i):   case insensitive matching
                        L or LOCALE or (?L):    make \w, \W, \b, \B dependent on the
                                                current locale
                        M or MULTILINE or (?m): matches every new line and not only
                                                start/end of the whole string
                        S or DOTALL or (?s):    '.' matches ALL chars, including newline
                        X or VERBOSE or (?x)
    escape(string)    -- return (a copy of) string with all non-alphanumerics backslashed.
    match(pattern, string[, flags])
              -- if 0 or more chars at beginning of <string> match the RE pattern string,
                 return a corresponding MatchObject instance, or None if no match.
    search(pattern, string[, flags])
              --scan thru <string> for a location matching <pattern>, return a
                corresponding MatchObject instance, or None if no match.
    split(pattern, string[, maxsplit=0])
              --split <string> by occurrences of <pattern>. If capturing () are used in
                pattern, then occurrences of patterns or subpatterns are also returned.
    findall(pattern, string)  [new in 1.5.2]
              --return a list of non-overlapping matches in <pattern>, either a list of
                groups or a list of tuples if the pattern has more than 1 group.
    sub(pattern, repl, string[, count=0])
              --return string obtained by replacing the (<count> first) lefmost non-
                overlapping occurrences of <pattern> (a string or a RE object) in <string>
                by <repl>; <repl> can be a string or a fct called with a single MatchObj
                arg, which must return the replacement string.
    subn(pattern, repl, string[, count=0])
              --same as sub(), but returns a tuple (newString, numberOfSubsMade)
    Regular Expression Objects
    (RE objects are returned by the compile fct)


    flags        -- flags arg used when RE obj was compiled, or 0 if none provided
    groupindex   -- dictionary of {group name: group number} in pattern
    pattern      -- pattern string from which RE obj was compiled
    match(string[, pos][, endpos])
    search(string[, pos][, endpos])
    split(string[, maxsplit=0])
    findall(string)    [new in 1.5.2]
    sub(repl, string[, count=0])
    subn(repl, string[, count=0]) -- see equivalent functions above.
    Match Objects
    (Match objects are returned by the match & search functions)


    pos        -- value of pos passed to search or match functions; index into
                  string at which RE engine started search.
    endpos     -- value of endpos passed to search or match functions; index into
                  string beyond which RE engine won't go.
    re         -- RE object whose match or search fct produced this MatchObj instance
    string     -- string passed to match() or search()
    group([g1, g2, ...])
                 -- returns one or more groups of the match. If one arg, result is a string;
                    if multiple args, result is a tuple with one item per arg. If gi is 0,
                    return value is entire matching string; if 1 <= gi <= 99, return
                    string matching group #gi (or None if no such group); gi may also be
                    a group name.
    groups()     -- returns a tuple of all groups of the match; groups not participating
                    to the match have a value of None. Returns a string instead of tuple
                    if len(tuple)=1
    end(group)   -- returns indices of start & end of substring matched by group (or None
                    if group exists but doesn't contribute to the match)
    span(group)  -- returns the 2-tuple (start(group), end(group)); can be (None, None)
                    if group didn't contibute to the match.



    Functions (see ordinary C man pages for info):
    atan2(x, y)
    fmod(x, y)
    frexp(x)        -- Unlike C: (float, int) = frexp(float)
    ldexp(x, y)
    modf(x)         -- Unlike C: (float, float) = modf(float)
    pow(x, y)



    getopt(list, optstr)    -- Similar to C. <optstr> is option
                               letters to look for. Put ':' after letter
                               if option takes arg. E.g.
        # invocation was "python -c hi -a arg1 arg2"
           opts, args =  getopt.getopt(sys.argv[1:], 'ab:c:')   
        # opts would be
           [('-c', 'hi'), ('-a', '')]
        # args would be
           ['arg1', 'arg2']

    List of modules in base distribution

    Contents of Lib directory
    (Python 1.52 NT distribution, may be slightly different in other distributions)

    aifc            --  Stuff to parse AIFF-C and AIFF files.
    anydbm          --  Generic interface to all dbm clones. (dbhash, gdbm, dbm,dumbdbm)
    asynchat        --  Support for 'chat' style protocols
    asyncore        --  Asynchronous File I/O (in select style)
    audiodev        --  Audio support for a few platforms.
    base64          --  Conversions to/from base64 RFC-MIME transport encoding .
    BaseHTTPServer  --  Base class forhttp services.
    Bastion         --  "Bastionification" utility (control access to instance vars)
    bdb             --  A generic Python debugger base class.
    binhex          --  Macintosh binhex compression/decompression.
    bisect          --  List bisection algorithms.
    calendar        --  Calendar printing functions.
    cgi             --  Wraps the WWW Forms Common Gateway Interface (CGI).
    CGIHTTPServer   --  CGI http services.
    cmd             --  A generic class to build line-oriented command interpreters.
    cmp             --  Efficiently compare files, boolean outcome only.
    cmpcache        --  Same, but caches 'stat' results for speed.
    code            --  Utilities needed to emulate Python's interactive interpreter
    colorsys        --  Conversion functions between RGB and other color systems.
    commands        --  Tools for executing UNIX commands .
    compileall      --  Force "compilation" of all .py files in a directory.
    ConfigParser    --  Configuration file parser (much like windows .ini files)
    copy            --  Generic shallow and deep copying operations.
    copy_reg        --  Helper to provide extensibility for pickle/cPickle.
    dbhash          --  (g)dbm-compatible interface to bsdhash.hashopen.
    dircache        --  Sorted list of files in a dir, using a cache.
    dircmp          --  Defines a class to build directory diff tools on.
    dis             --  Bytecode disassembler.
    dospath         --  Common operations on DOS pathnames.
    dumbdbm         --  A dumb and slow but simple dbm clone.
    dump            --  Print python code that reconstructs a variable.
    exceptions      --  Class based built-in exception hierarchy.
    fileinput       --  Helper class to quickly write a loop over all standard input files.
    find            --  Find files directory hierarchy matching a pattern.
    fnmatch         --  Filename matching with shell patterns.
    formatter       --  A test formatter.
    fpformat        --  General floating point formatting functions.
    ftplib          --  An FTP client class.  Based on RFC 959.
    getopt          --  Standard command line processing.
                        see also 
    getpass         --  Utilities to get a password and/or the current user name.
    glob            --  filename globbing.
    gopherlib       --  Gopher protocol client interface.
    grep            --  'grep' utilities.
    gzip            --  Read & write gzipped files.
    htmlentitydefs  --  Proposed entity definitions for HTML.
    htmllib         --  HTML parsing utilities.
    httplib         --  HTTP client class.
    ihooks          --  Hooks into the "import" mechanism.
    imaplib         --  IMAP4 client.Based on RFC 2060.
    imghdr          --  Recognizing image files based on their first few bytes.
    keyword         --  List of Python keywords.
    knee            --  A Python re-implementation of hierarchical module import.
    linecache       --  Cache lines from files.
    locale          --  Support for number formatting using the current locale settings.
    macpath         --  Pathname (or related) operations for the Macintosh.
    macurl2path     --  Mac specific module for conversion between pathnames and URLs.
    mailbox         --  A class to handle a unix-style or mmdf-style mailbox.
    mailcap         --  Mailcap file handling (RFC 1524).
    mhlib           --  MH (mailbox) interface.
    mimetools       --  Various tools used by MIME-reading or MIME-writing programs.
    mimetypes       --  Guess the MIME type of a file.
    MimeWriter      --  Generic MIME writer.
    mimify          --  Mimification and unmimification of mail messages.
    multifile       --  Class to make multi-file messages easier to handle.
    mutex           --  Mutual exclusion -- for use with module sched.
    netrc           --  
    nntplib         --  An NNTP client class.  Based on RFC 977.
    ntpath          --  Common operations on DOS pathnames.
    nturl2path      --  Mac specific module for conversion between pathnames and URLs.
    os              --  Either mac, dos or posix depending system.
    packmail        --  Create a self-unpacking shell archive.
    pdb             --  A Python debugger.
    pickle          --  Pickling (save and restore) of Python objects (a faster C
                        implementation exists in built-in module: cPickle).
    pipes           --  Conversion pipeline templates.
    poly            --  Polynomials.
    popen2          --  variations on pipe open.
    poplib          --  A POP3 client class. Based on the J. Myers POP3 draft.
    posixfile       --  Extended (posix) file operations.
    posixpath       --  Common operations on POSIX pathnames.
    pprint          --  Support to pretty-print lists, tuples, & dictionaries recursively.
    profile         --  Class for profiling python code.
    pstats          --  Class for printing reports on profiled python code.
    pty             --  Pseudo terminal utilities.
    py_compile      --  Routine to "compile" a .py file to a .pyc file.
    pyclbr          --  Parse a Python file and retrieve classes and methods.
    Queue           --  A multi-producer, multi-consumer queue.
    quopri          --  Conversions to/from quoted-printable transport encoding.
    rand            --  Don't use unless you want compatibility with C's rand().
    random          --  Random variable generators (obsolete, use whrandom)
    re              --  Regular Expressions.
    reconvert       --  Convert old ("regex") regular expressions to new syntax ("re").
    regex_syntax    --  Flags for regex.set_syntax().
    regexp          --  Backward compatibility for module "regexp" using "regex".
    regsub          --  Regular expression subroutines.
    repr            --  Redo repr() but with limits on most sizes.
    rexec           --  Restricted execution facilities ("safe" exec, eval, etc).
    rfc822          --  RFC-822 message manipulation class.
    rlcompleter     --  Word completion for GNU readline 2.0.
    sched           --  A generally useful event scheduler class.
    sgmllib         --  A parser for SGML.
    shelve          --  Manage shelves of pickled objects.
    shlex           --  Lexical analyzer class for simple shell-like syntaxes.
    shutil          --  Utility functions usable in a shell-like program.
    SimpleHTTPServer--  Simple extension to base http class
    site            --  Append module search paths for third-party packages to sys.path.
    smtplib         --  SMTP Client class (RFC 821)
    sndhdr          --  Several routines that help recognizing sound.
    SocketServer    --  Generic socket server classes.
    stat            --  Constants and functions for interpreting stat/lstat struct.
    statcache       --  Maintain a cache of file stats.
    statvfs         --  Constants for interpreting statvfs struct as returned by os.statvfs()
                        and os.fstatvfs() (if they exist).
    string          --  A collection of string operations.
    StringIO        --  File-like objects that read/write a string buffer (a faster
                        C implementation exists in built-in module: cStringIO).
    sunau           --  Stuff to parse Sun and NeXT audio files.
    sunaudio        --  Interpret sun audio headers.
    symbol          --  Non-terminal symbols of Python grammar (from "graminit.h").
    telnetlib       --  TELNET client class. Based on RFC 854.
    tempfile        --  Temporary file name allocation.
    threading       --  Proposed new higher-level threading interfaces 
    threading_api   --  (doc of the threading module)
    toaiff          --  Convert "arbitrary" sound files to AIFF files .
    token           --  Tokens (from "token.h").
    tokenize        --  Compiles a regular expression that recognizes Python tokens.
    traceback       --  Format and print Python stack traces.
    tty             --  Terminal utilities.
    turtle          --  LogoMation-like turtle graphics
    types           --  Define names for all type symbols in the std interpreter.
    tzparse         --  Parse a timezone specification.
    urllib          --  Open an arbitrary URL.
    urlparse        --  Parse URLs according to latest draft of standard.
    user            --  Hook to allow user-specified customization code to run.
    UserDict        --  A wrapper to allow subclassing of built-in dict class.
    UserList        --  A wrapper to allow subclassing of built-in list class.
    util            --  some useful functions that don't fit elsewhere !!
    uu              --  UUencode/UUdecode.
    wave            --  Stuff to parse WAVE files.
    whatsound       --  Several routines that help recognizing sound files.
    whichdb         --  Guess which db package to use to open a db file.
    whrandom        --  Wichmann-Hill random number generator.
    xdrlib          --  Implements (a subset of) Sun XDR (eXternal Data Representation)
    xmllib          --  A parser for XML, using the derived class as static DTD.
    zmod            --  Demonstration of abstruse mathematical concepts.

    (following list not revised)

    * Built-ins *

                sys                 Interpreter state vars and functions
                __built-in__        Access to all built-in python identifiers
                __main__            Scope of the interpreters main program, script or stdin
                array               Obj efficiently representing arrays of basic values
                math                Math functions of C standard
                time                Time-related functions
                regex               Regular expression matching operations
                marshal             Read and write some python values in binary format
                struct              Convert between python values and C structs

    * Standard *

                getopt              Parse cmd line args in sys.argv.  A la UNIX 'getopt'.
                os                  A more portable interface to OS dependent functionality
                re                  Functions useful for working with regular expressions
                string              Useful string and characters functions and exceptions
                whrandom            Wichmann-Hill pseudo-random number generator
                thread              Low-level primitives for working with process threads
                threading           idem, new recommanded interface.

    * Unix/Posix *

                dbm                 Interface to Unix ndbm database library
                grp                 Interface to Unix group database
                posix               OS functionality standardized by C and POSIX standards
                posixpath           POSIX pathname functions
                pwd                 Access to the Unix password database
                select              Access to Unix select multiplex file synchronization
                socket              Access to BSD socket interface

    * Tk User-interface Toolkit *

                tkinter             Main interface to Tk

    * Multimedia *

                audioop             Useful operations on sound fragments
                imageop             Useful operations on images
                jpeg                Access to jpeg image compressor and decompressor
                rgbimg              Access SGI imglib image files

    * Cryptographic Extensions *

                md5         Interface to RSA's MD5 message digest algorithm
                mpz         Interface to int part of GNU multiple precision library
                rotor               Implementation of a rotor-based encryption algorithm

    * Stdwin * Standard Window System

                stdwin              Standard Window System interface
                stdwinevents        Stdwin event, command, and selection constants
                rect                Rectangle manipulation operations

    * SGI IRIX * (4 & 5)

                al          SGI audio facilities
                AL          al constants
                fl          Interface to FORMS library
                FL          fl constants
                flp Functions for form designer
                fm          Access to font manager library
                gl          Access to graphics library
                GL          Constants for gl
                DEVICE      More constants for gl
                imgfile     Imglib image file interface

    * Suns *

                sunaudiodev Access to sun audio interface

    Workspace exploration and idiom hints

            dir(<module>)   list functions, variables in <module>
            dir()           get object keys, defaults to local name space
            X.__methods__   list of methods supported by X (if any)
            X.__members__   List of X's data attributes
            if __name__ == '__main__': main()            invoke main if running as script
            map(None, lst1, lst2, ...)                   merge lists
            b = a[:]                                     create copy of seq structure
            _                       in interactive mode, is last value printed

    Python Mode for Emacs

    (Not revised, possibly not up to date)
    Type C-c ? when in python-mode for extensive help.
    Primarily for entering new code:
            TAB      indent line appropriately
            LFD      insert newline, then indent
            DEL      reduce indentation, or delete single character
    Primarily for reindenting existing code:
            C-c :    guess py-indent-offset from file content; change locally
            C-u C-c :        ditto, but change globally
            C-c TAB  reindent region to match its context
            C-c <    shift region left by py-indent-offset
            C-c >    shift region right by py-indent-offset
    C-c C-b         mark block of lines
    M-C-h           mark smallest enclosing def
    C-u M-C-h       mark smallest enclosing class
    C-c #           comment out region of code
    C-u C-c #       uncomment region of code
    C-c C-p         move to statement preceding point
    C-c C-n         move to statement following point
    C-c C-u         move up to start of current block
    M-C-a           move to start of def
    C-u M-C-a       move to start of class
    M-C-e           move to end of def
    C-u M-C-e       move to end of class
    C-c C-c sends the entire buffer to the Python interpreter
    C-c |   sends the current region
    C-c !   starts a Python interpreter window; this will be used by
            subsequent C-c C-c or C-c | commands
    py-indent-offset        indentation increment
    py-block-comment-prefix comment string used by py-comment-region
    py-python-command       shell command to invoke Python interpreter
    py-scroll-process-buffer        t means always scroll Python process buffer
    py-temp-directory       directory used for temp files (if needed)
    py-beep-if-tab-change   ring the bell if tab-width is changed

    The Python Debugger

    (Not revised, possibly not up to date, see 1.5.2 Library Ref section 9.1; in 1.5.2, you may also use debugger integrated in IDLE)


    import pdb      (it's a module written in Python)
            -- defines functions :
               run(statement[,globals[, locals]])
                            -- execute statement string under debugger control, with optional
                               global & local environment.
               runeval(expression[,globals[, locals]])
                            -- same as run, but evaluate expression and return value.
               runcall(function[, argument, ...])
                            -- run function object with given arg(s)
               pm()         -- run postmortem on last exception (like debugging a core file)
                            -- run postmortem on traceback object <t>
            -- defines class Pdb :
               use Pdb to create reusable debugger objects. Object
               preserves state (i.e. break points) between calls.
            runs until a breakpoint hit, exception, or end of program
            If exception, variable '__exception__' holds (exception,value).


    h, help
            brief reminder of commands
    b, break [<arg>]
            if <arg> numeric, break at line <arg> in current file
            if <arg> is function object, break on entry to fcn <arg>
            if no arg, list breakpoints
    cl, clear [<arg>]
            if <arg> numeric, clear breakpoint at <arg> in current file
            if no arg, clear all breakpoints after confirmation
    w, where
            print current call stack
    u, up
            move up one stack frame (to top-level caller)
    d, down
            move down one stack frame 
    s, step
            advance one line in the program, stepping into calls
    n, next
            advance one line, stepping over calls
    r, return
            continue execution until current function returns
            (return value is saved in variable "__return__", which
            can be printed or manipulated from debugger)
    c, continue
            continue until next breakpoint
    a, args
            print args to current function
    rv, retval
            prints return value from last function that returned
    p, print <arg>
            prints value of <arg> in current stack frame
    l, list [<first> [, <last>]]
                   List source code for the current file.
                   Without arguments, list 11 lines around the current line
                   or continue the previous listing.
                   With one argument, list 11 lines starting at that line.
                   With two arguments, list the given range;
                   if the second argument is less than the first, it is a count.
    whatis <arg>
            prints type of <arg>
            executes rest of line as a Python statement in the current stack frame
    q quit
            immediately stop execution and leave debugger
            executes last command again
    Any input debugger doesn't recognize as a command is assumed to be a
    Python statement to execute in the current stack frame, the same way
    the exclamation mark ("!") command does.


    (1394) python
    Python 1.0.3 (Sep 26 1994)
    Copyright 1991-1994 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam
    >>> import rm
    Traceback (innermost last):
             File "<stdin>", line 1
             File "./", line 7
               x = div(3)
             File "./", line 2
               return a / r
    ZeroDivisionError: integer division or modulo
    >>> import pdb
    > ./ return a / r
    (Pdb) list
             1     def div(a):
             2  ->     return a / r
             4     def run():
             5         global r
             6         r = 0
             7         x = div(3)
             8         print x
    (Pdb) print r
    (Pdb) q
    >>> pdb.runcall(


    Breakpoints are stored as filename, line number tuples. If a module is reloaded after editing, any remembered breakpoints are likely to be wrong.

    Always single-steps through top-most stack frame. That is, "c" acts like "n".