12 New, Improved, and Deprecated Modules

As usual, Python's standard library received a number of enhancements and bug fixes. Here's a partial list of the most notable changes, sorted alphabetically by module name. Consult the Misc/NEWS file in the source tree for a more complete list of changes, or look through the CVS logs for all the details.

12.1 cookielib

The cookielib library supports client-side handling for HTTP cookies, mirroring the Cookie module's server-side cookie support. Cookies are stored in cookie jars; the library transparently stores cookies offered by the web server in the cookie jar, and fetches the cookie from the jar when connecting to the server. As in web browsers, policy objects control whether cookies are accepted or not.

In order to store cookies across sessions, two implementations of cookie jars are provided: one that stores cookies in the Netscape format so applications can use the Mozilla or Lynx cookie files, and one that stores cookies in the same format as the Perl libwww libary.

urllib2 has been changed to interact with cookielib: HTTPCookieProcessor manages a cookie jar that is used when accessing URLs.

This module was contributed by John J. Lee.

12.2 doctest

The doctest module underwent considerable refactoring thanks to Edward Loper and Tim Peters. Testing can still be as simple as running doctest.testmod(), but the refactorings allow customizing the module's operation in various ways

The new DocTestFinder class extracts the tests from a given object's docstrings:

def f (x, y):
    """>>> f(2,2)
>>> f(3,2)
    return x*y

finder = doctest.DocTestFinder()

# Get list of DocTest instances
tests = finder.find(f)

The new DocTestRunner class then runs individual tests and can produce a summary of the results:

runner = doctest.DocTestRunner()
for t in tests:
    tried, failed =

The above example produces the following output:

1 items passed all tests:
   2 tests in f
2 tests in 1 items.
2 passed and 0 failed.
Test passed.

DocTestRunner uses an instance of the OutputChecker class to compare the expected output with the actual output. This class takes a number of different flags that customize its behaviour; ambitious users can also write a completely new subclass of OutputChecker.

The default output checker provides a number of handy features. For example, with the doctest.ELLIPSIS option flag, an ellipsis ("...") in the expected output matches any substring, making it easier to accommodate outputs that vary in minor ways:

def o (n):
    """>>> o(1)
<__main__.C instance at 0x...>

Another special string, "<BLANKLINE>", matches a blank line:

def p (n):
    """>>> p(1)

Another new capability is producing a diff-style display of the output by specifying the doctest.REPORT_UDIFF (unified diffs), doctest.REPORT_CDIFF (context diffs), or doctest.REPORT_NDIFF (delta-style) option flags. For example:

def g (n):
    """>>> g(4)
    L = 'here is a rather lengthy list of words'.split()
    for word in L[:n]:
        print word

Running the above function's tests with doctest.REPORT_UDIFF specified, you get the following output:

File ``'', line 15, in g
Failed example:
Differences (unified diff with -expected +actual):
    @@ -2,3 +2,3 @@

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