The personal website of Scott W Harden
⚠️ Warning: This article is obsolete.
Articles typically receive this designation when the technology they describe is no longer relevant, code provided is later deemed to be of poor quality, or the topics discussed are better presented in future articles. Articles like this are retained for the sake of preservation, but their content should be critically assessed.

Compress Strings and Store to Files in Python

While writing code for my graduate research thesis I came across the need to lightly compress a huge and complex variable (a massive 3D data array) and store it in a text file for later retrieval. I decided to use the zlib compression library because it's open source and works pretty much on every platform. I ran into a snag for a while though, because whenever I loaded data from a text file it wouldn't properly decompress. I fixed this problem by adding the "rb" to the open line, forcing python to read the text file as binary data rather than ascii data. Below is my code, written in two functions to save/load compressed string data to/from files in Python.

import zlib  

def saveIt(data,fname):  
    data=str(data)  
    data=zlib.compress(data)  
    f=open(fname,'wb')  
    f.write(data)  
    f.close()  
    return  

def openIt(fname,evaluate=True):  
    f=open(fname,'rb')  
    data=f.read()  
    f.close()  
    data=zlib.decompress(data)  
    if evaluate: data=eval(data)  
    return data  

Oh yeah, don't forget the evaluate option in the openIt function. If set to True (default), the returned variable will be an evaluated object. For example, [[1,2],[3,4]] will be returned as an actual 2D list, not just a string. How convenient is that?

Newer: Fixing Slow Internet in Ubuntu
Older: Run Ubuntu Live CD From a USB Drive
All Blog Posts