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Pythonic way to create a long multi-line string


Question

I have a very long query. I would like to split it in several lines in Python. A way to do it in JavaScript would be using several sentences and joining them with a + operator (I know, maybe it's not the most efficient way to do it, but I'm not really concerned about performance in this stage, just code readability). Example:

var long_string = 'some text not important. just garbage to' +
                  'illustrate my example';

I tried doing something similar in Python, but it didn't work, so I used \ to split the long string. However, I'm not sure if this is the only/best/pythonicest way of doing it. It looks awkward. Actual code:

query = 'SELECT action.descr as "action", '\
    'role.id as role_id,'\
    'role.descr as role'\
    'FROM '\
    'public.role_action_def,'\
    'public.role,'\
    'public.record_def, '\
    'public.action'\
    'WHERE role.id = role_action_def.role_id AND'\
    'record_def.id = role_action_def.def_id AND'\
    'action.id = role_action_def.action_id AND'\
    'role_action_def.account_id = ' + account_id + ' AND'\
    'record_def.account_id=' + account_id + ' AND'\
    'def_id=' + def_id
2018/07/31
1
1352
7/31/2018 12:21:18 AM

Accepted Answer

Are you talking about multi-line strings? Easy, use triple quotes to start and end them.

s = """ this is a very
        long string if I had the
        energy to type more and more ..."""

You can use single quotes too (3 of them of course at start and end) and treat the resulting string s just like any other string.

NOTE: Just as with any string, anything between the starting and ending quotes becomes part of the string, so this example has a leading blank (as pointed out by @root45). This string will also contain both blanks and newlines.

I.e.,:

' this is a very\n        long string if I had the\n        energy to type more and more ...'

Finally, one can also construct long lines in Python like this:

 s = ("this is a very"
      "long string too"
      "for sure ..."
     )

which will not include any extra blanks or newlines (this is a deliberate example showing what the effect of skipping blanks will result in):

'this is a verylong string toofor sure ...'

No commas required, simply place the strings to be joined together into a pair of parenthesis and be sure to account for any needed blanks and newlines.

2017/01/31
2300
1/31/2017 12:54:44 PM

If you don't want a multiline string but just have a long single line string, you can use parentheses, just make sure you don't include commas between the string segments, then it will be a tuple.

query = ('SELECT   action.descr as "action", '
         'role.id as role_id,'
         'role.descr as role'
         ' FROM '
         'public.role_action_def,'
         'public.role,'
         'public.record_def, '
         'public.action'
         ' WHERE role.id = role_action_def.role_id AND'
         ' record_def.id = role_action_def.def_id AND'
         ' action.id = role_action_def.action_id AND'
         ' role_action_def.account_id = '+account_id+' AND'
         ' record_def.account_id='+account_id+' AND'
         ' def_id='+def_id)

In a SQL statement like what you're constructing, multiline strings would also be fine. But if the extra whitespace a multiline string would contain would be a problem, then this would be a good way to achieve what you want.

2013/04/18

Breaking lines by \ works for me. Here is an example:

longStr = "This is a very long string " \
        "that I wrote to help somebody " \
        "who had a question about " \
        "writing long strings in Python"
2014/06/20

I found myself happy with this one:

string = """This is a
very long string,
containing commas,
that I split up
for readability""".replace('\n',' ')
2013/01/04

I find that when building long strings, you are usually doing something like building an SQL query, in which case this is best:

query = ' '.join((  # note double parens, join() takes an iterable
    "SELECT foo",
    "FROM bar",
    "WHERE baz",
))

What Levon suggested is good, but might be vulnerable to mistakes:

query = (
    "SELECT foo"
    "FROM bar"
    "WHERE baz"
)

query == "SELECT fooFROM barWHERE baz"  # probably not what you want
2014/06/19

You can also concatenate variables in when using """ notation:

foo = '1234'

long_string = """fosdl a sdlfklaskdf as
as df ajsdfj asdfa sld
a sdf alsdfl alsdfl """ +  foo + """ aks
asdkfkasdk fak"""

EDIT: Found a better way, with named params and .format():

body = """
<html>
<head>
</head>
<body>
    <p>Lorem ipsum.</p>
    <dl>
        <dt>Asdf:</dt>     <dd><a href="{link}">{name}</a></dd>
    </dl>
    </body>
</html>
""".format(
    link='http://www.asdf.com',
    name='Asdf',
)

print(body)
2015/10/08