Suggestions to triple quoted strings proposal

Stepan Koltsov stepan.koltsov at
Thu Dec 14 22:15:53 PST 2006

Hi, again.

I've looked in sources of Python itself (checked out from Possibly, nobody writes
in Python "better" then Python developers.

I've written script that counts usages of multiline strings in python source.

(Script is actually a Java program. I code in Java 10 hours a day, I
do it really fast :)

Of course, most TQS in Python are used as docstrings (and doctests).
There are 8214 multiline strings in Python sources.

First, I though about first newline after TQS.

There are 907 uses of multiline strings (that are not docstrings) in
Python sources. Only 1/9 of multiline strings store data.

In 368 cases among 907, starting triple quotes followed by backslash
and newline.

=== real example from Doc/lib/
document = """\

It is more then 1/3.

In 342 cases among 907, starting triple quote followed by newline.

I have no numbers that show that leading spaces should be stripped by
lexer. I don't know what to measure. I can show the extraction from

This file contains real-world examples of data stored inside multiline
strings, where statements declared inside some blocks. I can repeat,
code looks dirty.

Also I have file

Contains all fragments with TQS that are not docstrings.

Script sources can be found at

(you can look inside, if you think that my script produced wrong files)

On 12/14/06, Brendan Eich <brendan at> wrote:
> On Dec 13, 2006, at 10:59 AM, Stepan Koltsov wrote:
> > Brendan, or anybody else who wants multiline strings should to behave
> > like in Python,
> >
> > Could you please write complex-enough example of code with TQS? In
> > that example string constant should be declared inside method inside
> > class. There is no good example at
> > .
> You're right there's no good example, but the Python docs have
> examples,

BTW, Python docs has no good examples of multiline strings.

Language reference has no example. Python tutorial has something...
ehh... not nice:

print """
Usage: thingy [OPTIONS]
     -h                        Display this usage message
     -H hostname               Hostname to connect to

this prints text surrounded by empty lines (first -- because of
leading newline, last -- because print stmt adds own newline).

> and real code has even more compelling examples. Two
> arguments here:
> 1.  "Be like Python, reuse brainprint from JS hackers who know Python
> and Python hackers learning JS".  This is non-trivial.  It's not just
> "marketing".  It makes the world better to avoid defining """
> differently in ES4/JS2 from Python.
> 2.  "Be like Python, stand on its shoulders and reuse the experience
> that informed its design decisions and defaults".  This is certainly
> a gamble, since JS is not Python, and Python ain't perfect (JS is far
> from perfect).  But with some care (e.g., eliminating GeneratorExit
> in the JS Pythonic generators available now in Firefox 2, and going
> into ES4), it can pay off.  There's probably value here, unless
> Python has failed to heed negative feedback on non-stripping """.

BTW, there were no design decisions when Guido developed first version
of Pyton 15 years ago as a "hobby" programming project (quote from

Long time ago I asked Python developers about their interpretation of
multiline strings. And they answered that behaviour is proper, and
even if it was not proper, it is too late to change it.

> 3.  Quote means verbatim contents modulo escapes and special case for
> embedded newlines, i.e. literal.  Trimming or stripping does not fit
> under the notion of "literal".  Bob and I have made this point, it's
> about intuition more than optimizing for the common case.
> > I used to write in Python, I hated its """ behaviour. I asked people
> > who use Python, and they generally agreed with me.
> Were they writing doc strings or data? We have http://
> for
> documentation, that is, Java doc-comments with simpler embedded
> "markup" syntax.

I asked about data. I think, documentation format is not very important.

Personally, I prefer javadoc/doxygen style over docstrings.

> > I'm afraid, that if you keep TQS "simple", they won't be very usable:
> > in 99% cases users will be forced to manually strip spaces and leading
> > newline. In 1% cases string constant will be defined outside block, or
> > amount of spaces will not matter.
> >
> > I have no other arguments :)
> This is the crux of the matter.  My counter-argument is number 2,
> above.  If your Python experience were more common, something would
> have been done.  But I could be wrong.
> Can you say more about what these """ strings contained in Python
> (doc vs. data, etc.).  More context, real examples?

Any questions?


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