How to join components of a path when you are constructing a URL in Python

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For example, I want to join a prefix path to resource paths like /js/foo.js.

I want the resulting path to be relative to the root of the server. In the above example if the prefix was "media" I would want the result to be /media/js/foo.js.

os.path.join does this really well, but how it joins paths is OS dependent. In this case I know I am targeting the web, not the local file system.

Is there a best alternative when you are working with paths you know will be used in URLs? Will os.path.join work well enough? Should I just roll my own?

How to join components of a path when you are constructing a URL in Python join: Questions

Why is it string.join(list) instead of list.join(string)?

5 answers

Evan Fosmark By Evan Fosmark

This has always confused me. It seems like this would be nicer:

my_list = ["Hello", "world"]
print(my_list.join("-"))
# Produce: "Hello-world"

Than this:

my_list = ["Hello", "world"]
print("-".join(my_list))
# Produce: "Hello-world"

Is there a specific reason it is like this?

1906

Answer #1

It"s because any iterable can be joined (e.g, list, tuple, dict, set), but its contents and the "joiner" must be strings.

For example:

"_".join(["welcome", "to", "stack", "overflow"])
"_".join(("welcome", "to", "stack", "overflow"))
"welcome_to_stack_overflow"

Using something other than strings will raise the following error:

TypeError: sequence item 0: expected str instance, int found

1906

Answer #2

This was discussed in the String methods... finally thread in the Python-Dev achive, and was accepted by Guido. This thread began in Jun 1999, and str.join was included in Python 1.6 which was released in Sep 2000 (and supported Unicode). Python 2.0 (supported str methods including join) was released in Oct 2000.

  • There were four options proposed in this thread:
    • str.join(seq)
    • seq.join(str)
    • seq.reduce(str)
    • join as a built-in function
  • Guido wanted to support not only lists and tuples, but all sequences/iterables.
  • seq.reduce(str) is difficult for newcomers.
  • seq.join(str) introduces unexpected dependency from sequences to str/unicode.
  • join() as a built-in function would support only specific data types. So using a built-in namespace is not good. If join() supports many datatypes, creating an optimized implementation would be difficult, if implemented using the __add__ method then it would ve O(n¬≤).
  • The separator string (sep) should not be omitted. Explicit is better than implicit.

Here are some additional thoughts (my own, and my friend"s):

  • Unicode support was coming, but it was not final. At that time UTF-8 was the most likely about to replace UCS2/4. To calculate total buffer length of UTF-8 strings it needs to know character coding rule.
  • At that time, Python had already decided on a common sequence interface rule where a user could create a sequence-like (iterable) class. But Python didn"t support extending built-in types until 2.2. At that time it was difficult to provide basic iterable class (which is mentioned in another comment).

Guido"s decision is recorded in a historical mail, deciding on str.join(seq):

Funny, but it does seem right! Barry, go for it...
Guido van Rossum

1906

Answer #3

Because the join() method is in the string class, instead of the list class?

I agree it looks funny.

See http://www.faqs.org/docs/diveintopython/odbchelper_join.html:

Historical note. When I first learned Python, I expected join to be a method of a list, which would take the delimiter as an argument. Lots of people feel the same way, and there’s a story behind the join method. Prior to Python 1.6, strings didn’t have all these useful methods. There was a separate string module which contained all the string functions; each function took a string as its first argument. The functions were deemed important enough to put onto the strings themselves, which made sense for functions like lower, upper, and split. But many hard-core Python programmers objected to the new join method, arguing that it should be a method of the list instead, or that it shouldn’t move at all but simply stay a part of the old string module (which still has lots of useful stuff in it). I use the new join method exclusively, but you will see code written either way, and if it really bothers you, you can use the old string.join function instead.

--- Mark Pilgrim, Dive into Python

How to join components of a path when you are constructing a URL in Python StackOverflow: Questions

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