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Embedding Python – Tutorial – Part 1

This is a follow-up to my talk at EuroPython 2012, “Supercharging C++ Code with Embedded Python“. An embedded Python interpreter allows users to extend the functionality of the program by writing Python plug-ins. In this series of tutorials, I will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use the Python/C API to do this.

I assume that you know how to write and compile C/C++ programs. If you have prior experience with writing Python extension modules, it may be helpful, although it’s not required. In my article about extending Python, you can find instructions for setting up your Makefiles/workspaces when working with the Python/C API.

The Example Program

In this part, we’re going to add Python plug-ins to a simple C++ program. The program reads lines of text from STDIN and outputs them unmodified to STDOUT.

#include <iostream>
#include <string>

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
    std::clog << "Type lines of text:" << std::endl;
    std::string input;
    while (true)
        std::getline(std::cin, input);
        if (!std::cin.good())
        std::cout << input << std::endl;
    return 0;

The user should now be able to write a Python plug-in that modifies the string before it is printed. These plug-ins will look something like this:

# elmer_fudd_filter.py
def filterFunc(s):
    return s.replace("r", "w").replace("l", "w")

# shout_filter.py
def filterFunc(s):
    return s.upper()

To make this work, we will link the program to the Python interpreter and use the Python/C API to import the plug-in module and to invoke the “filterFunc()” function inside it.

Continue reading Embedding Python – Tutorial – Part 1