Convert a String representation of a Dictionary to a dictionary?


Question

How can I convert the str representation of a dict, such as the following string, into a dict?

s = "{'muffin' : 'lolz', 'foo' : 'kitty'}"

I prefer not to use eval. What else can I use?

The main reason for this, is one of my coworkers classes he wrote, converts all input into strings. I'm not in the mood to go and modify his classes, to deal with this issue.

1
686
10/30/2016 7:02:41 PM

Accepted Answer

Starting in Python 2.6 you can use the built-in ast.literal_eval:

>>> import ast
>>> ast.literal_eval("{'muffin' : 'lolz', 'foo' : 'kitty'}")
{'muffin': 'lolz', 'foo': 'kitty'}

This is safer than using eval. As its own docs say:

>>> help(ast.literal_eval)
Help on function literal_eval in module ast:

literal_eval(node_or_string)
    Safely evaluate an expression node or a string containing a Python
    expression.  The string or node provided may only consist of the following
    Python literal structures: strings, numbers, tuples, lists, dicts, booleans,
    and None.

For example:

>>> eval("shutil.rmtree('mongo')")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "<string>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/opt/Python-2.6.1/lib/python2.6/shutil.py", line 208, in rmtree
    onerror(os.listdir, path, sys.exc_info())
  File "/opt/Python-2.6.1/lib/python2.6/shutil.py", line 206, in rmtree
    names = os.listdir(path)
OSError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: 'mongo'
>>> ast.literal_eval("shutil.rmtree('mongo')")
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/opt/Python-2.6.1/lib/python2.6/ast.py", line 68, in literal_eval
    return _convert(node_or_string)
  File "/opt/Python-2.6.1/lib/python2.6/ast.py", line 67, in _convert
    raise ValueError('malformed string')
ValueError: malformed string
1056
4/27/2017 4:54:32 PM

http://docs.python.org/2/library/json.html

JSON can solve this problem though its decoder wants double quotes around keys and values. If you don't mind a replace hack...

import json
s = "{'muffin' : 'lolz', 'foo' : 'kitty'}"
json_acceptable_string = s.replace("'", "\"")
d = json.loads(json_acceptable_string)
# d = {u'muffin': u'lolz', u'foo': u'kitty'}

NOTE that if you have single quotes as a part of your keys or values this will fail due to improper character replacement. This solution is only recommended if you have a strong aversion to the eval solution.

More about json single quote: jQuery single quote in JSON response


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