# Subprocess Library
# More flexibility with Popen
subprocess.Popen give more fine-grained control over launched processes than
# Launching a subprocess
process = subprocess.Popen([r'C:\path\to\app.exe', 'arg1', '--flag', 'arg'])
The signature for
Popen is very similar to the
call function; however,
Popen will return immediately instead of waiting for the subprocess to complete like
# Waiting on a subprocess to complete
process = subprocess.Popen([r'C:\path\to\app.exe', 'arg1', '--flag', 'arg']) process.wait()
# Reading output from a subprocess
process = subprocess.Popen([r'C:\path\to\app.exe'], stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE) # This will block until process completes stdout, stderr = process.communicate() print stdout print stderr
# Interactive access to running subprocesses
You can read and write on
stdout even while the subprocess hasn't completed. This could be useful when automating functionality in another program.
# Writing to a subprocess
process = subprocess.Popen([r'C:\path\to\app.exe'], stdout = subprocess.PIPE, stdin = subprocess.PIPE) process.stdin.write('line of input\n') # Write input line = process.stdout.readline() # Read a line from stdout # Do logic on line read.
However, if you only need one set of input and output, rather than dynamic interaction,
you should use
communicate() rather than directly accessing
# Reading a stream from a subprocess
In case you want to see the output of a subprocess line by line, you can use the following snippet:
process = subprocess.Popen(<your_command>, stdout=subprocess.PIPE) while process.poll() is None: output_line = process.stdout.readline()
in the case the subcommand output do not have EOL character, the above snippet does not work. You can then read the output character by character as follows:
process = subprocess.Popen(<your_command>, stdout=subprocess.PIPE) while process.poll() is None: output_line = process.stdout.read(1)
1 specified as argument to the
read method tells read to read 1 character at time. You can specify to read as many characters you want using a different number. Negative number or 0 tells to
read to read as a single string until the EOF is encountered (see here (opens new window)).
In both the above snippets, the
None until the subprocess finishes. This is used to exit the loop once there is no more output to read.
The same procedure could be applied to the
stderr of the subprocess.
# Calling External Commands
The simplest use case is using the
subprocess.call function. It accepts a list as the first argument. The first item in the list should be the external application you want to call. The other items in the list are arguments that will be passed to that application.
subprocess.call([r'C:\path\to\app.exe', 'arg1', '--flag', 'arg'])
For shell commands, set
shell=True and provide the command as a string instead of a list.
subprocess.call('echo "Hello, world"', shell=True)
Note that the two command above return only the
exit status of the subprocess. Moreover, pay attention when using
shell=True since it provides security issues (see here (opens new window)).
If you want to be able to get the standard output of the subprocess, then substitute the
subprocess.check_output. For more advanced use, refer to this (opens new window).
# How to create the command list argument
The subprocess method that allows running commands needs the command in form of a list (at least using
The rules to create the list are not always straightforward to follow, especially with complex commands. Fortunately, there is a very helpful tool that allows doing that:
shlex. The easiest way of creating the list to be used as command is the following:
import shlex cmd_to_subprocess = shlex.split(command_used_in_the_shell)
A simple example:
import shlex shlex.split('ls --color -l -t -r') out: ['ls', '--color', '-l', '-t', '-r']
- subprocess.call(args, *, stdin=None, stdout=None, stderr=None, shell=False, timeout=None)
- subprocess.Popen(args, bufsize=-1, executable=None, stdin=None, stdout=None, stderr=None, preexec_fn=None, close_fds=True, shell=False, cwd=None, env=None, universal_newlines=False, startupinfo=None, creationflags=0, restore_signals=True, start_new_session=False, pass_fds=())
| ||A single executable, or sequence of executable and arguments - |
| ||Run under a shell? The default shell to |
| ||Working directory of the child process.|