Wrapping openbabel in python - using cython

The previous post showed a contrived example of how one could access the openbabel functionality in python using the boost libraries. There is alternative to boost to wrap around c/c++ code, it's called cython. Here is an example openbabel wrapper, exposing some very simple functionality. Just before diving in, you should know that there already exists a wrapper around openbabel in python (it is called pybel). What I'm showing here doesn't even come close to pybel in terms of usefulness, the idea here is to show a demo of how easy wrapping things in python is.
#! /usr/bin/python

from ez_setup import use_setuptools

from setuptools import setup, Extension, find_packages
from Cython.Distutils import build_ext

import sys, os
import glob

import subprocess as sub

def get_include(name="openbabel"):
    p = sub.Popen('locate %s' % name ,stdout=sub.PIPE,stderr=sub.PIPE, shell=True)
    output, errors = p.communicate()
    include = [str.split("%s%s%s"  %(os.sep, name, os.sep))[0] for str in output.split("\n") if str.endswith(".h")]
    include = set(include)
    assert len(include) == 1
    return list(include)[0]

def main():
    extensions = [
    setup(name              = 'pyopenbabel',
          ext_package       = 'pyopenbabel',
          cmdclass          = {'build_ext': build_ext},
          ext_modules       = extensions,
          packages          = find_packages()

if __name__ == '__main__':
The actual wrapper is in src/openbabel.pxd. In it you register which things from the openbabel headers you're going to use/wrap. Note that all the "cdef extern from openbabel/..." statements will fail if the inculudes defined in setup.py are not actually pointing to a place where a openbabel headers live. If you want to find out what a header file is, or how to find it - for openbabel or any other piece of code - google will provide a fast soultion.
# distutils: language = c++

from libcpp.string cimport string

from libcpp cimport bool

cdef extern from "openbabel/base.h" namespace "OpenBabel":
    cdef cppclass OBBase:
cdef extern from "openbabel/mol.h" namespace "OpenBabel" :
    cdef cppclass OBMol(OBBase):
        OBMol() except +
        const char  *GetTitle(bool replaceNewlines = true)
        unsigned int NumAtoms()
        OBAtom      *GetAtom(int idx)
cdef extern from "openbabel/atom.h" namespace "OpenBabel":
    cdef cppclass OBAtom(OBBase):
        double      GetX()
        double      GetY()
        double      GetZ()
cdef extern from "openbabel/obconversion.h" namespace "OpenBabel" :
    cdef cppclass OBConversion:
        OBConversion() except +
        bool SetInAndOutFormats(const char* inID, const char* outID)
        bool SetInFormat(const char* inID)
        bool ReadString(OBBase* pOb, string input)
        bool ReadFile(OBBase* pOb, string filePath)

We register it's use in src/pyopenbabel.pyx Finally, in pyopenbabel/__init__.py put
from _pyopenbabel import *
This will magically import everything from the wrapper (registered as cython extension in setup.py). Why do I think this is important? Because it's fast, easy and may allow interesting chemistry to happen.


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