This is the documentation for the latest development branch of MicroPython and may refer to features that are not available in released versions.

If you are looking for the documentation for a specific release, use the drop-down menu on the left and select the desired version.

io – input/output streams

This module implements a subset of the corresponding CPython module, as described below. For more information, refer to the original CPython documentation: io.

This module contains additional types of stream (file-like) objects and helper functions.

Conceptual hierarchy

Difference to CPython

Conceptual hierarchy of stream base classes is simplified in MicroPython, as described in this section.

(Abstract) base stream classes, which serve as a foundation for behaviour of all the concrete classes, adhere to few dichotomies (pair-wise classifications) in CPython. In MicroPython, they are somewhat simplified and made implicit to achieve higher efficiencies and save resources.

An important dichotomy in CPython is unbuffered vs buffered streams. In MicroPython, all streams are currently unbuffered. This is because all modern OSes, and even many RTOSes and filesystem drivers already perform buffering on their side. Adding another layer of buffering is counter- productive (an issue known as “bufferbloat”) and takes precious memory. Note that there still cases where buffering may be useful, so we may introduce optional buffering support at a later time.

But in CPython, another important dichotomy is tied with “bufferedness” - it’s whether a stream may incur short read/writes or not. A short read is when a user asks e.g. 10 bytes from a stream, but gets less, similarly for writes. In CPython, unbuffered streams are automatically short operation susceptible, while buffered are guarantee against them. The no short read/writes is an important trait, as it allows to develop more concise and efficient programs - something which is highly desirable for MicroPython. So, while MicroPython doesn’t support buffered streams, it still provides for no-short-operations streams. Whether there will be short operations or not depends on each particular class’ needs, but developers are strongly advised to favour no-short-operations behaviour for the reasons stated above. For example, MicroPython sockets are guaranteed to avoid short read/writes. Actually, at this time, there is no example of a short-operations stream class in the core, and one would be a port-specific class, where such a need is governed by hardware peculiarities.

The no-short-operations behaviour gets tricky in case of non-blocking streams, blocking vs non-blocking behaviour being another CPython dichotomy, fully supported by MicroPython. Non-blocking streams never wait for data either to arrive or be written - they read/write whatever possible, or signal lack of data (or ability to write data). Clearly, this conflicts with “no-short-operations” policy, and indeed, a case of non-blocking buffered (and this no-short-ops) streams is convoluted in CPython - in some places, such combination is prohibited, in some it’s undefined or just not documented, in some cases it raises verbose exceptions. The matter is much simpler in MicroPython: non-blocking stream are important for efficient asynchronous operations, so this property prevails on the “no-short-ops” one. So, while blocking streams will avoid short reads/writes whenever possible (the only case to get a short read is if end of file is reached, or in case of error (but errors don’t return short data, but raise exceptions)), non-blocking streams may produce short data to avoid blocking the operation.

The final dichotomy is binary vs text streams. MicroPython of course supports these, but while in CPython text streams are inherently buffered, they aren’t in MicroPython. (Indeed, that’s one of the cases for which we may introduce buffering support.)

Note that for efficiency, MicroPython doesn’t provide abstract base classes corresponding to the hierarchy above, and it’s not possible to implement, or subclass, a stream class in pure Python.

Functions, mode='r', **kwargs)

Open a file. Builtin open() function is aliased to this function. All ports (which provide access to file system) are required to support mode parameter, but support for other arguments vary by port.


class io.FileIO(...)

This is type of a file open in binary mode, e.g. using open(name, "rb"). You should not instantiate this class directly.

class io.TextIOWrapper(...)

This is type of a file open in text mode, e.g. using open(name, "rt"). You should not instantiate this class directly.

class io.StringIO([string])
class io.BytesIO([string])

In-memory file-like objects for input/output. StringIO is used for text-mode I/O (similar to a normal file opened with “t” modifier). BytesIO is used for binary-mode I/O (similar to a normal file opened with “b” modifier). Initial contents of file-like objects can be specified with string parameter (should be normal string for StringIO or bytes object for BytesIO). All the usual file methods like read(), write(), seek(), flush(), close() are available on these objects, and additionally, a following method:


Get the current contents of the underlying buffer which holds data.

class io.StringIO(alloc_size)
class io.BytesIO(alloc_size)

Create an empty StringIO/BytesIO object, preallocated to hold up to alloc_size number of bytes. That means that writing that amount of bytes won’t lead to reallocation of the buffer, and thus won’t hit out-of-memory situation or lead to memory fragmentation. These constructors are a MicroPython extension and are recommended for usage only in special cases and in system-level libraries, not for end-user applications.

Difference to CPython

These constructors are a MicroPython extension.