[Numpy-discussion] character arrays supported by C API?

Todd Miller jmiller at stsci.edu
Thu Oct 14 06:11:22 CDT 2004

On Thu, 2004-10-14 at 04:20, Faheem Mitha wrote:
> On Wed, 15 Sep 2004, Todd Miller wrote:
> > On Wed, 2004-09-15 at 00:52, Faheem Mitha wrote:
> >> Dear People,
> >>
> >> Are character arrays supported by the Numarray C API? My impression from
> >> the documentation is no, but I would appreciate a confirmation. Thanks.
> >>
> >>                                                                 Faheem.
> >
> > Yes and no.  CharArray is not as well supported from C as NumArray;
> > there are no easy to call functions which will convert a nested sequence
> > of strings into a CharArray.
> >
> > However,  it is possible to call the Python functions in the CharArray
> > module from C,  and a pre-existing CharArray is a PyArrayObject so it
> > can be manipulated in C as a struct;  it's shape and strides are
> > visible,  it's itemsize is the length of the string, etc.
> >
> > What is it you want to do?   What functions do you think would help?
> Hi. Sorry about the slow reply.
> What I want to do is extremely simple. I want to convert (in C++) a C++ 
> character array to a CharArray. The simplest way of doing this would be to 
> create an array of the appropriate size, and write character strings into 
> it element by element.
> So, a utility function which creates a character array of appropriate 
> dimensions would be useful. Also a utility function which convert a list 
> of strings into a Character Array would also be desirable.
> Currently I am having to work around this limitation by returning lists of 
> strings back to Python. I'd prefer to not have to do that.

That's a sensible addition,  but right now,  such a function does not
exist, and I don't have time to add it myself.  The way to achieve this
without C-API support by CharArray is to do a Python callback.  The
steps in C would be roughly:

0. Import the numarray.strings module.  PyImport_ImportModule().

1. Get the module's dictionary object.  PyModule_GetDict().

2. Get a pointer to CharArray by looking it up in the dictionary.  

3. Construct an argument tuple which contains the constructor
parameters.  Py_BuildValue().

4. Call the constructor using the arg tuple.  The return value is the
CharArray.  PyObject_CallFunction().

Similar steps are done for NumArray in the current C-API in newarray.ch
in NA_NewAllFromBuffer().  


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