Friday, June 08, 2007

Life Outside Vr 3 (well not very far outside)

Actually not at all, but the point isn't that we need to work outside Vr, it is that there is a whole world of files available using some straight python functionality. Now that we have a little file opening and reading under our belts, lets come back into Vr and bring a little of that technique with us. Let's also work on tightening up the code a little. If you are fairly new to VrPython, I think you'll really like this one. We are going to let Vr tell us the name of the file to open (in this case the current function key file) then using standard python we'll open, read, and parse the data we want out of the file, then use Vr to build a prompt box. For this example the data we want is all the function key names, and the prompt box will allow us to pick a function key name. Why? Well how about if you were going to write a parallel function using the existing inspar command but wanted to change the PARMOD= to "Function Key" and wanted to select the function key from a list then send it using the FKEY= key-in. If so, here is one way to get the function key name. It is rather long and convoluted but I'll try to make it worth what you are paying for the look.

# We'll need a Vr config object to access the name of the currently
# loaded function key file name.

# Grab the name.
# Open the file
# We're going to read the file twice. This time as a string so we can count the
# instances of the key-word "KeyName" to figure out how many entries our
# prompt box will need.
NumberOfFunctionKeys=FileData.count('Fkey KeyName')
# Use the string method count to do just that.
PromBox = VrPromBox ("Function Keys", 60, 1)
# Create a PromBox object.
PromBox.AddList ("Select a Function Key",NumberOfFunctionKeys , 40, 0)
# I'll skip helpful text and just get right to the listbox of length equal to
# the number of function keys.,0)
# Rewind the file to read it again.
# This time read it as a list, each element of which is a line from the file.
for FileLine in FileData:
# For each line in the data list.
..if FileLine.count('Fkey KeyName') != 0:
# Test to see if it is a line containing the function key name.
# If so split the line data into the three words
# 'Fkey','KeyName','ActualName' which is in itself a list, the third element
# of which ( [2] ) is the actual name of the function key.
# Add that to the list of items to be displayed.
# Could have closed it after the readlines() but just go ahead and do it now.
if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):
..FunctionKey=PromBox.GetList (0)
# Standard prompt box usage to grab a list item
print FunctionKey
# and print it out (or use it in an interesting way)

Now as far as tightening it up. I could have read the file only once and built a for loop to count the instances of the KeyName key-word, but I'm going to go in a totally different direction. I'm still going to read the file twice, as a matter of fact I'm going to open it twice. The goal of this exercise is to get as few lines of code as I can. I'm not going to profess that this is the tightest and most efficient. It just has a lot less lines of code and is intended to make you think. Look at it first, then read the explanation.

PromBox = VrPromBox ("Function Keys", 60, 1)
PromBox.AddList ("Select a Function Key", open(VrCfg().GetFkeyFileName (),'r').read().count('Fkey KeyName'), 40, 0)
for FileLine in open(VrCfg().GetFkeyFileName (),'r').readlines():
..if FileLine.count('Fkey KeyName'):PromBox.AddListItem(FileLine.split()[2])
if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):print PromBox.GetList (0)

Line 1: We have to create a prompt box object because I can't find any way around it and we'll need to use methods of this specific object in the next line.

Line 2: Let's take this a step at a time.
A) Add to the list using the formula AddList (Prompt, NumItems, Height, DefaultItem) Prompt is set to "Select a Function Key", NumItems is the tricky part, Height is 40 and DefaultItem is 0.
B) Look at the NumItems formula and read it as follows
Open a file using the string returned by a VrCfig() object method GetFkeyFileName in read mode ( 'r' ) which open file object you should read() the data, of which data you should count() the number of occurrences of 'Fkey KeyName'. Notice that when all this is said and done it just give a number which represents the number of function key names and therefore the number of function keys

Now that we have a prompt box which contains a list set to the length equal to the number of function key names, let's populate the list with those names.

Line 3: For each element in a list, the list comes from opening the same file again, in read mode again, but this time instead of read() to get one solid string, we use a method that will return a list which is exactly what the for loop is working on. We are looping on a list that was created and populated just for the loop, each element of which is a line from that file.

Line 4: FileLine represents the line of data out of the file which is being examined as we loop over the entire list of lines. count() tells how many occurrences of a work exist in the string 0 means none which in terms of an if means false so any other number that comes back means true (the string exists, therefore it is a function key name). if it is true we want to add the actual name to the list. The actual name as we saw above means splitting the string, which creates a list, from which we want element [2]. So add to the list the third word which is the result of splitting the string because it does (true) contain the phrase 'Fkey KeyName'. I didn't add another line and indent it because there is only one statement to execute if true which allows you to just put it after the colon and be done with it.

Line 5: Same idea, standard prombox syntax, but since there is only one action, just put it on the same line. Ugly code but remember my only goal was to reduce the line count. And why put the string in a variable just to print it on the next line, print it as it returns from GetList()

And I haven't even taken the time to explain the forum post regarding reading and parsing aerosys .pxyzopk files, a great example of the kind of data we mappers work with all the time. Maybe next time.

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For anyone interested in trying VrPython for the first time or if you are early in the game, I suggest going to the earliest posts and working forward. I use VrPython every day for many wonderful things, needless to say it will change and could potentially damage a file. Any risk associated with using VrPython or any code or scripts mentioned here lies solely with the end user.

The "Personal VrPython page" in the link section will contain many code examples and an organized table of contents to this blog in a fairly un-attractive (for now) form.