Saturday, February 11, 2017

tp, a simple text pager in Python

By Vasudev Ram

Yesterday I got this idea of writing a simple text file pager in Python.

Here it is, in file
Purpose: A simple text pager.
Version: 0.1
Platform: Windows-only.
Can be adapted for Unix using tty / termios calls.
Only the use of msvcrt.getch() needs to be changed.
Author: Vasudev Ram
Copyright 2017 Vasudev Ram
Web site:
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import sys
import string
from msvcrt import getch

def pager(in_fil=sys.stdin, lines_per_page=10, quit_key='q'):
    assert lines_per_page > 1 and lines_per_page == int(lines_per_page)
    assert len(quit_key) == 1 and \
        quit_key in (string.ascii_letters + string.digits)
    lin_ctr = 0
    for lin in in_fil:
        lin_ctr += 1
        if lin_ctr >= lines_per_page:
            c = getch().lower()
            if c == quit_key.lower():
                lin_ctr = 0

def main():
        sa, lsa = sys.argv, len(sys.argv)
        if lsa == 1:
        elif lsa == 2:
            with open(sa[1], "r") as in_fil:
            ("Only one input file allowed in this version")
    except IOError as ioe:
        sys.stderr.write("Caught IOError: {}".format(repr(ioe)))

    except Exception as e:
        sys.stderr.write("Caught Exception: {}".format(repr(e)))

if __name__ == '__main__':
I added a couple of assertions for sanity checking.

The logic of the program is fairly straightforward:

- open (for reading) the filename given as command line argument, or just read (the already-open) sys.stdin
- loop over the lines of the file, lines-per-page lines at a time
- read a character from the keyboard (without waiting for Enter, hence the use of msvcrt.getch [1])
- if it is the quit key, quit, else reset line counter and print another batch of lines
- do error handling as needed

[1] The msvcrt module is on Windows only, but there are ways to get equivalent functionality on Unixen; google for phrases like "reading a keypress on Unix without waiting for Enter", and look up Unix terms like tty, termios, curses, cbreak, etc.

And here are two runs of the program that dogfood it, one directly with a file (the program itself) as a command-line argument, and the other with the program at the end of a pipeline; output is not shown since it is the same as the input file, in both cases; you just have to press some key (other than q (which makes it quit), repeatedly, to page through the content):
$ python
$type | python

I could have golfed the code a bit, but chose not to, in the interest of the Zen of Python. Heck, Python is already Zen enough.

- Vasudev Ram - Online Python training and consulting

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