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# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
# Copyright (C) 2001-2004 Fernando Perez. <fperez@colorado.edu>
# Distributed under the terms of the BSD License. The full license is in
# the file COPYING, distributed as part of this software.
# $Id: usage.py 1332 2006-05-30 01:41:28Z fperez $
from IPython import Release
__author__ = '%s <%s>' % Release.authors['Fernando']
__license__ = Release.license
__version__ = Release.version
__doc__ = """
IPython -- An enhanced Interactive Python
A Python shell with automatic history (input and output), dynamic object
introspection, easier configuration, command completion, access to the system
shell and more.
IPython can also be embedded in running programs. See EMBEDDING below.
ipython [options] files
If invoked with no options, it executes all the files listed in
sequence and drops you into the interpreter while still acknowledging
any options you may have set in your ipythonrc file. This behavior is
different from standard Python, which when called as python -i will
only execute one file and will ignore your configuration setup.
Please note that some of the configuration options are not available at
the command line, simply because they are not practical here. Look into
your ipythonrc configuration file for details on those. This file
typically installed in the $HOME/.ipython directory.
For Windows users, $HOME resolves to C:\\Documents and
Settings\\YourUserName in most instances, and _ipython is used instead
of .ipython, since some Win32 programs have problems with dotted names
in directories.
In the rest of this text, we will refer to this directory as
The following special options are ONLY valid at the beginning of the
command line, and not later. This is because they control the initial-
ization of ipython itself, before the normal option-handling mechanism
is active.
-gthread, -qthread, -wthread, -pylab
Only ONE of these can be given, and it can only be given as the
first option passed to IPython (it will have no effect in any
other position). They provide threading support for the GTK, QT
and WXWidgets toolkits, and for the matplotlib library.
With any of the first three options, IPython starts running a
separate thread for the graphical toolkit's operation, so that
you can open and control graphical elements from within an
IPython command line, without blocking. All three provide
essentially the same functionality, respectively for GTK, QT and
WXWidgets (via their Python interfaces).
Note that with -wthread, you can additionally use the -wxversion
option to request a specific version of wx to be used. This
requires that you have the 'wxversion' Python module installed,
which is part of recent wxPython distributions.
If -pylab is given, IPython loads special support for the mat-
plotlib library (http://matplotlib.sourceforge.net), allowing
interactive usage of any of its backends as defined in the
user's .matplotlibrc file. It automatically activates GTK, QT
or WX threading for IPyhton if the choice of matplotlib backend
requires it. It also modifies the %run command to correctly
execute (without blocking) any matplotlib-based script which
calls show() at the end.
-tk The -g/q/wthread options, and -pylab (if matplotlib is
configured to use GTK, QT or WX), will normally block Tk
graphical interfaces. This means that when GTK, QT or WX
threading is active, any attempt to open a Tk GUI will result in
a dead window, and possibly cause the Python interpreter to
crash. An extra option, -tk, is available to address this
issue. It can ONLY be given as a SECOND option after any of the
above (-gthread, -qthread, -wthread or -pylab).
If -tk is given, IPython will try to coordinate Tk threading
with GTK, QT or WX. This is however potentially unreliable, and
you will have to test on your platform and Python configuration
to determine whether it works for you. Debian users have
reported success, apparently due to the fact that Debian builds
all of Tcl, Tk, Tkinter and Python with pthreads support. Under
other Linux environments (such as Fedora Core 2/3), this option
has caused random crashes and lockups of the Python interpreter.
Under other operating systems (Mac OSX and Windows), you'll need
to try it to find out, since currently no user reports are
There is unfortunately no way for IPython to determine at run-
time whether -tk will work reliably or not, so you will need to
do some experiments before relying on it for regular work.
When any of the thread systems (GTK, QT or WX) are active, either
directly or via -pylab with a threaded backend, it is impossible to
interrupt long-running Python code via Ctrl-C. IPython can not pass
the KeyboardInterrupt exception (or the underlying SIGINT) across
threads, so any long-running process started from IPython will run to
completion, or will have to be killed via an external (OS-based)
To the best of my knowledge, this limitation is imposed by the Python
interpreter itself, and it comes from the difficulty of writing
portable signal/threaded code. If any user is an expert on this topic
and can suggest a better solution, I would love to hear about it. In
the IPython sources, look at the Shell.py module, and in particular at
the runcode() method.
After the above threading options have been given, regular options can
follow in any order. All options can be abbreviated to their shortest
non-ambiguous form and are case-sensitive. One or two dashes can be
used. Some options have an alternate short form, indicated after a |.
Most options can also be set from your ipythonrc configuration file.
See the provided examples for assistance. Options given on the comman-
dline override the values set in the ipythonrc file.
All options with a [no] prepended can be specified in negated form
(using -nooption instead of -option) to turn the feature off.
-h, --help
Show summary of options.
-pylab This can only be given as the first option passed to IPython (it
will have no effect in any other position). It adds special sup-
port for the matplotlib library (http://matplotlib.source-
forge.net), allowing interactive usage of any of its backends as
defined in the user's .matplotlibrc file. It automatically
activates GTK or WX threading for IPyhton if the choice of mat-
plotlib backend requires it. It also modifies the @run command
to correctly execute (without blocking) any matplotlib-based
script which calls show() at the end.
-autocall <val>
Make IPython automatically call any callable object even if you
didn't type explicit parentheses. For example, 'str 43' becomes
'str(43)' automatically. The value can be '0' to disable the
feature, '1' for 'smart' autocall, where it is not applied if
there are no more arguments on the line, and '2' for 'full'
autocall, where all callable objects are automatically called
(even if no arguments are present). The default is '1'.
Turn automatic indentation on/off.
Make magic commands automatic (without needing their first char-
acter to be %). Type %magic at the IPython prompt for more
When a syntax error occurs after editing a file, automatically
open the file to the trouble causing line for convenient fixing.
Print the intial information banner (default on).
-c <command>
Execute the given command string, and set sys.argv to ['c'].
This is similar to the -c option in the normal Python inter-
-cache_size|cs <n>
Size of the output cache (maximum number of entries to hold in
memory). The default is 1000, you can change it permanently in
your config file. Setting it to 0 completely disables the
caching system, and the minimum value accepted is 20 (if you
provide a value less than 20, it is reset to 0 and a warning is
issued). This limit is defined because otherwise you'll spend
more time re-flushing a too small cache than working.
Gives IPython a similar feel to the classic Python prompt.
-colors <scheme>
Color scheme for prompts and exception reporting. Currently
implemented: NoColor, Linux, and LightBG.
IPython can display information about objects via a set of func-
tions, and optionally can use colors for this, syntax highlight-
ing source code and various other elements. However, because
this information is passed through a pager (like 'less') and
many pagers get confused with color codes, this option is off by
default. You can test it and turn it on permanently in your
ipythonrc file if it works for you. As a reference, the 'less'
pager supplied with Mandrake 8.2 works ok, but that in RedHat
7.2 doesn't.
Test it and turn it on permanently if it works with your system.
The magic function @color_info allows you to toggle this inter-
actively for testing.
Set to confirm when you try to exit IPython with an EOF (Con-
trol-D in Unix, Control-Z/Enter in Windows). Note that using the
magic functions @Exit or @Quit you can force a direct exit,
bypassing any confirmation.
Show information about the loading process. Very useful to pin
down problems with your configuration files or to get details
about session restores.
IPython can use the deep_reload module which reloads changes in
modules recursively (it replaces the reload() function, so you
don't need to change anything to use it). deep_reload() forces a
full reload of modules whose code may have changed, which the
default reload() function does not.
When deep_reload is off, IPython will use the normal reload(),
but deep_reload will still be available as dreload(). This fea-
ture is off by default [which means that you have both normal
reload() and dreload()].
-editor <name>
Which editor to use with the @edit command. By default, IPython
will honor your EDITOR environment variable (if not set, vi is
the Unix default and notepad the Windows one). Since this editor
is invoked on the fly by IPython and is meant for editing small
code snippets, you may want to use a small, lightweight editor
here (in case your default EDITOR is something like Emacs).
-ipythondir <name>
The name of your IPython configuration directory IPYTHONDIR.
This can also be specified through the environment variable
-log|l Generate a log file of all input. The file is named
ipython_log.py in your current directory (which prevents logs
from multiple IPython sessions from trampling each other). You
can use this to later restore a session by loading your logfile
as a file to be executed with option -logplay (see below).
Specify the name of your logfile.
Replay a previous log. For restoring a session as close as pos-
sible to the state you left it in, use this option (don't just
run the logfile). With -logplay, IPython will try to reconstruct
the previous working environment in full, not just execute the
commands in the logfile.
When a session is restored, logging is automatically turned on
again with the name of the logfile it was invoked with (it is
read from the log header). So once you've turned logging on for
a session, you can quit IPython and reload it as many times as
you want and it will continue to log its history and restore
from the beginning every time.
Caveats: there are limitations in this option. The history vari-
ables _i*,_* and _dh don't get restored properly. In the future
we will try to implement full session saving by writing and
retrieving a failed because of inherent limitations of Python's
Pickle module, so this may have to wait.
Print messages which IPython collects about its startup process
(default on).
Automatically call the pdb debugger after every uncaught excep-
tion. If you are used to debugging using pdb, this puts you
automatically inside of it after any call (either in IPython or
in code called by it) which triggers an exception which goes
IPython can optionally use the pprint (pretty printer) module
for displaying results. pprint tends to give a nicer display of
nested data structures. If you like it, you can turn it on per-
manently in your config file (default off).
-profile|p <name>
Assume that your config file is ipythonrc-<name> (looks in cur-
rent dir first, then in IPYTHONDIR). This is a quick way to keep
and load multiple config files for different tasks, especially
if you use the include option of config files. You can keep a
basic IPYTHONDIR/ipythonrc file and then have other 'profiles'
which include this one and load extra things for particular
tasks. For example:
1) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc : load basic things you always want.
2) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc-math : load (1) and basic math-
related modules.
3) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc-numeric : load (1) and Numeric and
plotting modules.
Since it is possible to create an endless loop by having circu-
lar file inclusions, IPython will stop if it reaches 15 recur-
sive inclusions.
-prompt_in1|pi1 <string>
Specify the string used for input prompts. Note that if you are
using numbered prompts, the number is represented with a '\#' in
the string. Don't forget to quote strings with spaces embedded
in them. Default: 'In [\#]: '.
Most bash-like escapes can be used to customize IPython's
prompts, as well as a few additional ones which are IPython-spe-
cific. All valid prompt escapes are described in detail in the
Customization section of the IPython HTML/PDF manual.
-prompt_in2|pi2 <string>
Similar to the previous option, but used for the continuation
prompts. The special sequence '\D' is similar to '\#', but with
all digits replaced dots (so you can have your continuation
prompt aligned with your input prompt). Default: ' .\D.: '
(note three spaces at the start for alignment with 'In [\#]').
-prompt_out|po <string>
String used for output prompts, also uses numbers like
prompt_in1. Default: 'Out[\#]:'.
-quick Start in bare bones mode (no config file loaded).
-rcfile <name>
Name of your IPython resource configuration file. normally
IPython loads ipythonrc (from current directory) or
IPYTHONDIR/ipythonrc. If the loading of your config file fails,
IPython starts with a bare bones configuration (no modules
loaded at all).
Use the readline library, which is needed to support name com-
pletion and command history, among other things. It is enabled
by default, but may cause problems for users of X/Emacs in
Python comint or shell buffers.
Note that emacs 'eterm' buffers (opened with M-x term) support
IPython's readline and syntax coloring fine, only 'emacs' (M-x
shell and C-c !) buffers do not.
-screen_length|sl <n>
Number of lines of your screen. This is used to control print-
ing of very long strings. Strings longer than this number of
lines will be sent through a pager instead of directly printed.
The default value for this is 0, which means IPython will auto-
detect your screen size every time it needs to print certain
potentially long strings (this doesn't change the behavior of
the 'print' keyword, it's only triggered internally). If for
some reason this isn't working well (it needs curses support),
specify it yourself. Otherwise don't change the default.
-separate_in|si <string>
Separator before input prompts. Default '0.
-separate_out|so <string>
Separator before output prompts. Default: 0 (nothing).
-separate_out2|so2 <string>
Separator after output prompts. Default: 0 (nothing).
-nosep Shorthand for '-separate_in 0 -separate_out 0 -separate_out2 0'.
Simply removes all input/output separators.
Allows you to upgrade your IPYTHONDIR configuration when you
install a new version of IPython. Since new versions may
include new command lines options or example files, this copies
updated ipythonrc-type files. However, it backs up (with a .old
extension) all files which it overwrites so that you can merge
back any custimizations you might have in your personal files.
Print version information and exit.
-wxversion <string>
Select a specific version of wxPython (used in conjunction with
-wthread). Requires the wxversion module, part of recent
wxPython distributions.
-xmode <modename>
Mode for exception reporting. The valid modes are Plain, Con-
text, and Verbose.
- Plain: similar to python's normal traceback printing.
- Context: prints 5 lines of context source code around each
line in the traceback.
- Verbose: similar to Context, but additionally prints the vari-
ables currently visible where the exception happened (shortening
their strings if too long). This can potentially be very slow,
if you happen to have a huge data structure whose string repre-
sentation is complex to compute. Your computer may appear to
freeze for a while with cpu usage at 100%. If this occurs, you
can cancel the traceback with Ctrl-C (maybe hitting it more than
It is possible to start an IPython instance inside your own Python pro-
grams. In the documentation example files there are some illustrations
on how to do this.
This feature allows you to evalutate dynamically the state of your
code, operate with your variables, analyze them, etc. Note however
that any changes you make to values while in the shell do NOT propagate
back to the running code, so it is safe to modify your values because
you won't break your code in bizarre ways by doing so.
cmd_line_usage = __doc__
interactive_usage = """
IPython -- An enhanced Interactive Python
IPython offers a combination of convenient shell features, special commands
and a history mechanism for both input (command history) and output (results
caching, similar to Mathematica). It is intended to be a fully compatible
replacement for the standard Python interpreter, while offering vastly
improved functionality and flexibility.
At your system command line, type 'ipython -help' to see the command line
options available. This document only describes interactive features.
Warning: IPython relies on the existence of a global variable called __IP which
controls the shell itself. If you redefine __IP to anything, bizarre behavior
will quickly occur.
* Access to the standard Python help. As of Python 2.1, a help system is
available with access to object docstrings and the Python manuals. Simply
type 'help' (no quotes) to access it.
* Magic commands: type %magic for information on the magic subsystem.
* System command aliases, via the %alias command or the ipythonrc config file.
* Dynamic object information:
Typing ?word or word? prints detailed information about an object. If
certain strings in the object are too long (docstrings, code, etc.) they get
snipped in the center for brevity.
Typing ??word or word?? gives access to the full information without
snipping long strings. Long strings are sent to the screen through the less
pager if longer than the screen, printed otherwise.
The ?/?? system gives access to the full source code for any object (if
available), shows function prototypes and other useful information.
If you just want to see an object's docstring, type '%pdoc object' (without
quotes, and without % if you have automagic on).
Both %pdoc and ?/?? give you access to documentation even on things which are
not explicitely defined. Try for example typing {}.get? or after import os,
type os.path.abspath??. The magic functions %pdef, %source and %file operate
* Completion in the local namespace, by typing TAB at the prompt.
At any time, hitting tab will complete any available python commands or
variable names, and show you a list of the possible completions if there's
no unambiguous one. It will also complete filenames in the current directory.
This feature requires the readline and rlcomplete modules, so it won't work
if your Python lacks readline support (such as under Windows).
* Search previous command history in two ways (also requires readline):
- Start typing, and then use Ctrl-p (previous,up) and Ctrl-n (next,down) to
search through only the history items that match what you've typed so
far. If you use Ctrl-p/Ctrl-n at a blank prompt, they just behave like
normal arrow keys.
- Hit Ctrl-r: opens a search prompt. Begin typing and the system searches
your history for lines that match what you've typed so far, completing as
much as it can.
* Persistent command history across sessions (readline required).
* Logging of input with the ability to save and restore a working session.
* System escape with !. Typing !ls will run 'ls' in the current directory.
* The reload command does a 'deep' reload of a module: changes made to the
module since you imported will actually be available without having to exit.
* Verbose and colored exception traceback printouts. See the magic xmode and
xcolor functions for details (just type %magic).
* Input caching system:
IPython offers numbered prompts (In/Out) with input and output caching. All
input is saved and can be retrieved as variables (besides the usual arrow
key recall).
The following GLOBAL variables always exist (so don't overwrite them!):
_i: stores previous input.
_ii: next previous.
_iii: next-next previous.
_ih : a list of all input _ih[n] is the input from line n.
Additionally, global variables named _i<n> are dynamically created (<n>
being the prompt counter), such that _i<n> == _ih[<n>]
For example, what you typed at prompt 14 is available as _i14 and _ih[14].
You can create macros which contain multiple input lines from this history,
for later re-execution, with the %macro function.
The history function %hist allows you to see any part of your input history
by printing a range of the _i variables. Note that inputs which contain
magic functions (%) appear in the history with a prepended comment. This is
because they aren't really valid Python code, so you can't exec them.
* Output caching system:
For output that is returned from actions, a system similar to the input
cache exists but using _ instead of _i. Only actions that produce a result
(NOT assignments, for example) are cached. If you are familiar with
Mathematica, IPython's _ variables behave exactly like Mathematica's %
The following GLOBAL variables always exist (so don't overwrite them!):
_ (one underscore): previous output.
__ (two underscores): next previous.
___ (three underscores): next-next previous.
Global variables named _<n> are dynamically created (<n> being the prompt
counter), such that the result of output <n> is always available as _<n>.
Finally, a global dictionary named _oh exists with entries for all lines
which generated output.
* Directory history:
Your history of visited directories is kept in the global list _dh, and the
magic %cd command can be used to go to any entry in that list.
* Auto-parentheses and auto-quotes (adapted from Nathan Gray's LazyPython)
1. Auto-parentheses
Callable objects (i.e. functions, methods, etc) can be invoked like
this (notice the commas between the arguments):
>>> callable_ob arg1, arg2, arg3
and the input will be translated to this:
--> callable_ob(arg1, arg2, arg3)
You can force auto-parentheses by using '/' as the first character
of a line. For example:
>>> /globals # becomes 'globals()'
Note that the '/' MUST be the first character on the line! This
won't work:
>>> print /globals # syntax error
In most cases the automatic algorithm should work, so you should
rarely need to explicitly invoke /. One notable exception is if you
are trying to call a function with a list of tuples as arguments (the
parenthesis will confuse IPython):
In [1]: zip (1,2,3),(4,5,6) # won't work
but this will work:
In [2]: /zip (1,2,3),(4,5,6)
------> zip ((1,2,3),(4,5,6))
Out[2]= [(1, 4), (2, 5), (3, 6)]
IPython tells you that it has altered your command line by
displaying the new command line preceded by -->. e.g.:
In [18]: callable list
-------> callable (list)
2. Auto-Quoting
You can force auto-quoting of a function's arguments by using ',' as
the first character of a line. For example:
>>> ,my_function /home/me # becomes my_function("/home/me")
If you use ';' instead, the whole argument is quoted as a single
string (while ',' splits on whitespace):
>>> ,my_function a b c # becomes my_function("a","b","c")
>>> ;my_function a b c # becomes my_function("a b c")
Note that the ',' MUST be the first character on the line! This
won't work:
>>> x = ,my_function /home/me # syntax error
quick_reference = r"""
IPython -- An enhanced Interactive Python - Quick Reference Card
obj?, obj??, ?obj,??obj : Get help, or more help for object
?os.p* : List names in os starting with p
Example magic:
%alias d ls -F : 'd' is now an alias for 'ls -F'
alias d ls -F : Works if 'alias' not a python name
alist = %alias : Get list of aliases to 'alist'
System commands:
!cp a.txt b/ : System command escape, calls os.system()
cp a.txt b/ : after %rehashx, most system commands work without !
cp ${f}.txt $bar : Variable expansion in magics and system commands
files = !ls /usr : Capture sytem command output
files.s, files.l, files.n: "a b c", ['a','b','c'], 'a\nb\nc'
cd /usr/share : Obvious, also 'cd d:\home\_ipython' works
_i, _ii, _iii : Previous, next previous, next next previous input
_ih[4], _ih[2:5] : Input history line 4, lines 2-4
_, __, ___ : previous, next previous, next next previous output
_dh : Directory history
_oh : Output history
%hist : Command history
f 1,2 : f(1,2)
/f 1,2 : f(1,2) (forced autoparen)
,f 1 2 : f("1","2")
;f 1 2 : f("1 2")