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PEP 295 -- Interpretation of multiline string constants

PEP: 295
Title: Interpretation of multiline string constants
Author: yozh at (Stepan Koltsov)
Status: Rejected
Type: Standards Track
Created: 22-Jul-2002
Python-Version: 3.0


This PEP describes an interpretation of multiline string constants for Python. It suggests stripping spaces after newlines and stripping a newline if it is first character after an opening quotation.


This PEP proposes an interpretation of multiline string constants in Python. Currently, the value of string constant is all the text between quotations, maybe with escape sequences substituted, e.g.:

def f():
    limona, banana

def g():
    return "This is \

print repr(f.__doc__)
print repr(g())


'\n\tla-la-la\n\tlimona, banana\n\t'
'This is \tstring'

This PEP suggest two things:

  • ignore the first character after opening quotation, if it is newline
  • ignore in string constants all spaces and tabs up to first non-whitespace character, but no more than current indentation.

After applying this, previous program will print:

'la-la-la\nlimona, banana\n'
'This is string'

To get this result, previous programs could be rewritten for current Python as (note, this gives the same result with new strings meaning):

def f():
limona, banana

def g():
  "This is \

Or stripping can be done with library routines at runtime (as pydoc does), but this decreases program readability.


I'll say nothing about CPython, Jython or Python.NET.

In original Python, there is no info about the current indentation (in spaces) at compile time, so space and tab stripping should be done at parse time. Currently no flags can be passed to the parser in program text (like from __future__ import xxx ). I suggest enabling or disabling of this feature at Python compile time depending of CPP flag Py_PARSE_MULTILINE_STRINGS .


New interpretation of string constants can be implemented with flags 'i' and 'o' to string constants, like:

WHERE model = 'i525'
""" is in new style,

o"""SELECT * FROM employee
WHERE birth < 1982
""" is in old style, and

SELECT,, car.price FROM employee, car
WHERE employee.salary * 36 > car.price
""" is in new style after Python-x.y.z and in old style otherwise.

Also this feature can be disabled if string is raw, i.e. if flag 'r' specified.