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For 2021 - online Python 3 training - see ((here)).

Our plans were to retire in summer 2020 and see the world, but Coronavirus has lead us into a lot of lockdown programming in Python 3 and PHP 7.
We can now offer tailored online training - small groups, real tutors - works really well for groups of 4 to 14 delegates. Anywhere in the world; course language English.

Please ask about private 'maintenance' training for Python 2, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, etc.
Serialization - storing and reloading objects

In most of the languages we teach, data is held in memory on a "heap" with a "symbol table" holding the names of the variables, where they are stored, and what type of information the (currently) contain. When you write simple variables out to a file (or the screen) functions like print or puts (Tcl) format the data in such a way that it's written out in useful form. There is, however, something of a problem when you try to do that with an object. Unless it has been told, your computer doesn't know how to display or save an object in a way appropriate for its later reuse.

Saving an object to disc for later reloading

The very term "heap" should give you a clue about something. If data is stored in "a heap" then it's not going to be all neat and tidy, is it ;-) ?? It will be held in a well defined structure that makes it accessible as necessary, but thet structure will include all sorts of memory address pointers. That means that if you just store a variable's content it won't be practical for another program to read it back later, because:
• you won't have saved the memory locations as well as the data, so the restoring program won't know what points where
• even if you had saved the memory locations, it's almost certain that when you come to restore the object there will be something else at those memory locations, or they will be within the address space of a different program.

There is often a solution provided - built in to the language - which provides you with a way of adding further information as you store your object so that you can restore it later. The generic term for this is serialisation - which means turning the object into a stream on bytes that can be stored in a serial fashion on a disc, or indeed sent down a serial connection such as a pipe to another process, or even over a network connection to another computer.

In PHP, you can provide a method called __serialize in your class definition which defines how an object should be formatted into a stream suitable for transfer over a serial line (where the name came from) of writing to disk, and a method called unserialize which reverses the process.

In Java, you state that your class implements serializable and that ensures that extra work is done within the class, and is stored. It's necessary to ensure that any classes which are used within the object are also serialisable. There's an example class (source code) here and the code that reads and writes objects to file here.

In Python, the pickle, cpickle and marshal modules all provide ways of serialising an unserialising data. There's more on that in a previous article


Cleaning up before you serialise

Where you have a complex object, it's likely that you'll have stored intermediate calculations within it. That's caching partly calculated results to avoid the need for repeated recalculation. But such intermediate data need not be stored, and may take up a lot of disc space, so you'll want to dump it before you save to disc or other serial stream.

In Java, you declare your variablse as transient if you don't want to save their contents as part of the object.

In PHP, the __sleep method which you can write performs a tidy up operation, and the __wakeup routine can be used on reload.
(written 2009-10-04)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Y115 - Additional Python Facilities
  [183] The elegance of Python - (2005-01-19)
  [208] Examples - Gadfly, NI Number, and Tcl to C interface - (2005-02-10)
  [239] What and why for the epoch - (2005-03-08)
  [463] Splitting the difference - (2005-10-13)
  [663] Python to MySQL - (2006-03-31)
  [672] Keeping your regular expressions simple - (2006-04-05)
  [753] Python 3000 - the next generation - (2006-06-09)
  [901] Python - listing out the contents of all variables - (2006-10-21)
  [1043] Sending an email from Python - (2007-01-18)
  [1136] Buffering output - why it is done and issues raised in Tcl, Perl, Python and PHP - (2007-04-06)
  [1149] Turning objects into something you can store - Pickling (Python) - (2007-04-15)
  [1305] Regular expressions made easy - building from components - (2007-08-16)
  [1336] Ignore case in Regular Expression - (2007-09-08)
  [1337] A series of tyre damages - (2007-09-08)
  [1876] Python Regular Expressions - (2008-11-08)
  [2407] Testing code in Python - doctest, unittest and others - (2009-09-16)
  [2462] Python - how it saves on compile time - (2009-10-20)
  [2655] Python - what is going on around me? - (2010-02-28)
  [2721] Regular Expressions in Python - (2010-04-14)
  [2745] Connecting Python to sqlite and MySQL databases - (2010-04-28)
  [2746] Model - View - Controller demo, Sqlite - Python 3 - Qt4 - (2010-04-29)
  [2764] Python decorators - your own, staticmethod and classmethod - (2010-05-14)
  [2765] Running operating system commands from your Python program - (2010-05-14)
  [2786] Factory methods and SqLite in use in a Python teaching example - (2010-05-29)
  [2790] Joining a MySQL table from within a Python program - (2010-06-02)
  [3089] Python regular expressions - repeating, splitting, lookahead and lookbehind - (2010-12-17)
  [3442] A demonstration of how many Python facilities work together - (2011-09-16)
  [3469] Teaching dilemma - old tricks and techniques, or recent enhancements? - (2011-10-08)
  [4085] JSON from Python - first principles, easy example - (2013-05-13)
  [4211] Handling JSON in Python (and a csv, marshall and pickle comparison) - (2013-11-16)
  [4298] Python - an interesting application - (2014-09-18)
  [4439] Json is the new marshall, pickle and cPickle / Python - (2015-02-22)
  [4451] Running an operating system command from your Python program - the new way with the subprocess module - (2015-03-06)
  [4536] Json load from URL, recursive display, Python 3.4 - (2015-10-14)
  [4593] Command line parameter handling in Python via the argparse module - (2015-12-08)
  [4709] Some gems from Intermediate Python - (2016-10-30)

J809 - Java - Serialization
  [1067] Serialization in Java - all layers required! - (2007-02-05)

H108 - Objects in PHP
  [67] Object Oriented Programming in PHP - (2004-09-29)
  [124] PHP v Java - (2004-11-20)
  [205] PHP5 lets you say no - (2005-02-07)
  [343] Should I use structured or object oriented? - (2005-06-10)
  [421] Don't repeat code - use loops or functions - (2005-08-21)
  [485] North, Norther and Northest - PHP 5 Objects - (2005-11-04)
  [656] Think about your design even if you don't use full UML - (2006-03-24)
  [720] Planning a hotel refurb - an example of a Gant chart in PHP - (2006-05-14)
  [836] Build on what you already have with OO - (2006-08-17)
  [1027] Cue the music, I'm happy. - (2007-01-09)
  [1153] Object Oriented Model - a summary of changes from PHP4 to PHP5 - (2007-04-18)
  [1217] What are factory and singleton classes? - (2007-06-04)
  [1535] OO PHP demonstration - comparing objects and more - (2008-02-08)
  [1682] Accounts in PHP - an OO demo - (2008-06-19)
  [1819] Calling base class constructors - (2008-10-03)
  [1820] Sorting objects in PHP - (2008-10-04)
  [1925] Introduction to Object Oriented Programming - (2008-12-06)
  [2160] PHP - getclass v instanceof - (2009-05-07)
  [2169] When should I use OO techniques? - (2009-05-11)
  [2171] Cleaning up redundant objects - (2009-05-11)
  [2172] PHP4 v PHP5 - Object Model Difference - (2009-05-11)
  [2380] Object Oriented programming - a practical design example - (2009-08-27)
  [2434] Abstract classes, Interfaces, PHP and Java - (2009-10-03)
  [2632] Shipping a test harness with your class in PHP - (2010-02-12)
  [2641] Object Oriented Programming in PHP - (2010-02-19)
  [2680] Static class members in PHP - a documented example - (2010-03-16)
  [2717] The Multiple Inheritance Conundrum, interfaces and mixins - (2010-04-11)
  [2741] What is a factory? - (2010-04-26)
  [2774] PHP - Object Oriented Design in use - (2010-05-21)
  [2921] Does copying a variable duplicate the contents? - (2010-08-14)
  [2922] Getting the OO design write - with PHP a example - (2010-08-14)
  [3142] Private and Public - and things between - (2011-01-22)
  [3210] Catchable fatal error in PHP ... How to catch, and alternative solutions such as JSON - (2011-03-22)
  [3211] Computer Graphics in PHP - World (incoming data) to Pixel (screen) conversion - (2011-03-24)
  [3607] Designing your application - using UML techniques - (2012-02-11)
  [3608] Design Patterns - what are they? Why use them? - (2012-02-12)
  [3609] How do classes relate to each other? Associated Classes - (2012-02-12)
  [3840] Autoload in PHP - (2012-08-17)
  [3841] Copying, duplicating, cloning an object in PHP - (2012-08-18)
  [3843] Caching Design Patterns - (2012-08-20)
  [3953] Objects in PHP - Revision - (2012-12-16)
  [4057] stdClass in PHP - using an object rather than an associative array - (2013-04-02)
  [4073] Learning about Object Orientation in PHP - a new set of examples - (2013-04-28)
  [4356] Object factories in C++, Python, PHP and Perl - (2014-12-19)
  [4366] Changing what operators do on objects - a comparison across different programming languages - (2014-12-26)
  [4626] Singleton design pattern - examples and uses - (2016-01-20)
  [4627] Caching results in an object for efficiency - avoiding re-calculation - (2016-01-20)
  [4628] Associative objects - one object within another. - (2016-01-20)


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Multiple returns from a function in Python
Listening to The Minister
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Serialization - storing and reloading objects
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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