I/O Registry (astropy.io.registry)


The I/O registry is only meant to be used directly by users who want to define their own custom readers/writers. Users who want to find out more about what built-in formats are supported by Table by default should see Unified File Read/Write Interface. No built-in formats are currently defined for NDData, but this will be added in future.


The I/O registry is a submodule used to define the readers/writers available for the Table and NDData classes.

Using astropy.io.registry

This section demonstrates how to create a custom reader/writer. A reader is written as a function that can take any arguments except format (which is needed when manually specifying the format — see below) and returns an instance of the Table or NDData classes (or subclasses).


Here we assume that we are trying to write a reader/writer for the Table class:

from astropy.table import Table

def my_table_reader(filename, some_option=1):
    # Read in the table by any means necessary
    return table  # should be an instance of Table

Such a function can then be registered with the I/O registry:

from astropy.io import registry
registry.register_reader('my-table-format', Table, my_table_reader)

where the first argument is the name of the format, the second argument is the class that the function returns an instance for, and the third argument is the reader itself.

We can then read in a table with:

d = Table.read('my_table_file.mtf', format='my-table-format')

In practice, it would be nice to have the read method automatically identify that this file is in the my-table-format format, so we can construct a function that can recognize these files, which we refer to here as an identifier function.

An identifier function should take a first argument that is a string which indicates whether the identifier is being called from read or write, and should then accept an arbitrary number of positional and keyword arguments via *args and **kwargs, which are the arguments passed to the read method.

In the above case, we can write a function that only looks at filenames (but in practice, this function could even look at the first few bytes of the file, for example). The only requirement for the identifier function is that it return a boolean indicating whether the input matches that expected for the format. In our example, we want to automatically recognize files with filenames ending in .mtf as being in the my-table-format format:

import os

def identify_mtf(origin, *args, **kwargs):
    return (isinstance(args[0], str) and
            os.path.splitext(args[0].lower())[1] == '.mtf')


Identifier functions should be prepared for arbitrary input — in particular, the first argument may not be a filename or file object, so it should not assume that this is the case.

We then register this identifier function, similarly to the reader function:

registry.register_identifier('my-table-format', Table, identify_mtf)

Having registered this function, we can then do:

t = Table.read('catalog.mtf')

If multiple formats match the current input, then an exception is raised, and similarly if no format matches the current input. In that case, the format should be explicitly given with the format= keyword argument.

It is also possible to create custom writers. To go with our custom reader above, we can write a custom writer:

def my_table_writer(table, filename, overwrite=False):
    ...  # Write the table out to a file

Writer functions should take a dataset object (either an instance of the Table or NDData classes or subclasses), and any number of subsequent positional and keyword arguments — although as for the reader, the format keyword argument cannot be used.

We then register the writer:

registry.register_writer('my-custom-format', Table, my_table_writer)

We can write the table out to a file:

t.write('catalog_new.mtf', format='my-table-format')

Since we have already registered the identifier function, we can also do:



astropy.io.registry Module


register_reader(data_format, data_class, …)

Register a reader function.

register_writer(data_format, data_class, …)

Register a table writer function.

register_identifier(data_format, data_class, …)

Associate an identifier function with a specific data type.

identify_format(origin, data_class_required, …)

Loop through identifiers to see which formats match.

get_reader(data_format, data_class)

Get reader for data_format.

get_writer(data_format, data_class)

Get writer for data_format.

read(cls, *args[, format, cache])

Read in data.

write(data, *args[, format])

Write out data.

get_formats([data_class, readwrite])

Get the list of registered I/O formats as a Table.


Contextmanager to disable documentation updates when registering reader and writer.



Custom error for registry clashes.


Descriptor class for creating read() and write() methods in unified I/O.

UnifiedReadWrite(instance, cls, method_name)

Base class for the worker object used in unified read() or write() methods.

Class Inheritance Diagram

Inheritance diagram of astropy.io.registry.IORegistryError, astropy.io.registry.UnifiedReadWriteMethod, astropy.io.registry.UnifiedReadWrite