Python: Using JSON or pprint to compare complex data structuresΒΆ

abstract:JSON or pprint can convert various complex data structures into printable text for user display. Your tests can convert your data to a printable format and diff the results to make a comparison.

We have various systems that contain nested trees of lists and dicts. You can display these data items with python builtins.

JSON makes a very readable format, but it does not represent every possible python object. pprint makes a slightly less readable format, but knows (for example) the difference between tuples and lists.

Using json:

import json

# to a string
s = json.dumps( mydata, indent=4, sort_keys=True, default=str )

# to a file
json.dump( mydata, f, indent=4, sort_keys=True, default=str )

pprint understands python objects better, but is harder to read.

Using pprint:

import pprint

# to a string
s = pprint.pformat( mydata, indent=4 )

# to a file
pprint.pprint( mydata, stream=f, indent=4 )

Once you have the object in a string or file, you can use various diff-like tools to compare it.

This example uses difflib and json. The reference data is a string constant in the source code.

import json
import pandokia.helpers.filecomp as filecomp

l = [ { 'a' : 1, 'b' : 2 }, [ 1, 2 ] ]
result = json.dumps( l, indent=4, sort_keys=True, default=str )
print result

ref = """
        "a": 1,
        "b": 2
assert filecomp.diffjson( result, ref )

This example creates an output file and compares to a reference file. You can update the reference file by using the okify feature in the gui.

import os.path
import json
import pandokia.helpers.filecomp as filecomp

def test_1() :
    global tda
    tda = { }

    # list of files to compare
    files = [
            ( "test_1.txt", "diff", { 'rstrip' : True } )

    # delete output files before running test
    filecomp.delete_output_files( files )

    # some data
    l = [ { 'a' : 1, 'b' : 2 }, [ 1, 2 ] ]

    # make the output file ( in directory out/ )
    f = open("out/test_1.txt","w" )
    result = json.dump( l, f, indent=4, sort_keys=True, default=str )

    # file comparison tool
        # files to compare
        # name to use to construct okfile
        "okfile/" + os.path.basename(__file__) + ".test_1",
        # tda dict (to record name of okfile)

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