Type conversions

Usually, ctypes does strict type checking. This means, if you have POINTER(c_int) in the argtypes list of a function or as the type of a member field in a structure definition, only instances of exactly the same type are accepted. There are some exceptions to this rule, where ctypes accepts other objects. For example, you can pass compatible array instances instead of pointer types. So, for POINTER(c_int), ctypes accepts an array of c_int:

>>> class Bar(Structure):
...     _fields_ = [("count", c_int), ("values", POINTER(c_int))]
>>> bar = Bar()
>>> bar.values = (c_int * 3)(1, 2, 3)
>>> bar.count = 3
>>> for i in range(bar.count):
...     print bar.values[i]

To set a POINTER type field to NULL, you can assign None:

>>> bar.values = None

XXX list other conversions...

Sometimes you have instances of incompatible types. In C, you can cast one type into another type. ctypes provides a cast function which can be used in the same way. The Bar structure defined above accepts POINTER(c_int) pointers or c_int arrays for its values field, but not instances of other types:

>>> bar.values = (c_byte * 4)()
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
TypeError: incompatible types, c_byte_Array_4 instance instead of LP_c_long instance

For these cases, the cast function is handy.

The cast function can be used to cast a ctypes instance into a pointer to a different ctypes data type. cast takes two parameters, a ctypes object that is or can be converted to a pointer of some kind, and a ctypes pointer type. It returns an instance of the second argument, which references the same memory block as the first argument:

>>> a = (c_byte * 4)()
>>> cast(a, POINTER(c_int))
<ctypes.LP_c_long object at ...>

So, cast can be used to assign to the values field of Bar the structure:

>>> bar = Bar()
>>> bar.values = cast((c_byte * 4)(), POINTER(c_int))
>>> print bar.values[0]

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