By dieheld

2014-10-02 13:54:40 8 Comments

I have a bash script that is calling a python script like so:

OUTPUT=$(python /path/path/ attr attr attr);

The python script will return a data list like so:

[item1, item2, item3]

How can I convert the $OUPUT variable which is a string of the return python data list into a bash array?

I'd like to read each item in bash if possible.


@mickours 2017-02-22 16:16:16

If you want to simply create a bash list from a python list in python, you can use this one-liner:

python -c 'print(" ".join([str(elem) for elem in [1, "l", 12]]))'

It gives you directly the list:

1 l 12

Note that it requires to modify the python code instead of doing this from the external bash code.

@chepner 2014-10-02 15:45:28

I would use a short Python wrapper to convert the string into something more parseable by bash.

# Proxy for output that includes some potential bash pitfalls
python_output="['a b', 'c*', 6]"

# Let Python output each element of the list as a separate line;
# the only thing this cannot handle is multi-line elements; workarounds
# are possible, but not worth getting into unless necessary. 
while read -r; do
done < <(python -c 'import ast, sys
print "\n".join(str(x) for x in ast.literal_eval(sys.argv[1]))
' "$python_output")

# Verify that each element was added to the array unscathed.
for e in "${OUTPUT[@]}"; do
    echo "$e"

In bash 4, you can use the readarray command to replace the while loop:

readarray -t OUTPUT < <(python -c ... )

@Cyrus 2014-10-02 14:11:35

Add () and | tr -d '[],':

OUTPUT=($(python /path/path/ attr attr attr | tr -d '[],'))

echo ${OUTPUT[0]}
echo ${OUTPUT[1]}
echo ${OUTPUT[2]}
echo ${OUTPUT[@]}


item1 item2 item3

@dieheld 2014-10-02 14:37:22

Genius, thank you, this is a decent solution for me!

@glenn jackman 2014-10-02 14:56:03

+1. Things will get more complicated if the array elements contain whitespace.

@Cyrus 2014-10-02 15:54:45

@glennjackman: yes, this solution is not suitable for items with whitespaces.

@Cyrus 2018-06-05 03:47:37

With bash >= 4.0 this is suitable for items with whitespaces: mapfile -t OUTPUT < <(python /path/path/ attr attr attr | sed 's/[][]//g;s/, /\n/g')

@l0b0 2014-10-02 14:13:29

Bash declares arrays like this:

foo=(bar baz ban)

To convert space separated command output to an array you can therefore do this:


And to convert a list to a space separated string is very easy in Python:

' '.join(my_array)

If you print that instead of the list itself you can therefore trivially convert it to an array.

@alasimpara 2014-10-02 14:11:17

You can make your print a string that separates each item with spaces, which Bash will convert to an array, or you can use Bash to convert the return value of the python script into the format you want.

If you chose to print a string from your you can use the following python code:

returnList = [1, 2, 3]
returnStr = ''
for item in returnList:
    returnStr += str(item)+' '

In this case, the output of the following bash script:

OUTPUT=$(python /path/to/
echo $OUTPUT
for i in $OUTPUT;
    echo $i


1 2 3

Hope this helps you.

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