Installing Python
Example scripts
Golly's scripting commands
Cell lists
Rectangle lists
Using the glife package
Potential problems
Python on Mac OS X
Python copyright notice

 
Installing Python

Before you can run a .py script, Python needs to be installed on your system. Mac OS X users don't need to do anything because Python is already installed (but see below for how to force Golly to use a newer version of Python). Windows and Linux users can download a Python installer from www.python.org/download. Note that a 32-bit version of Golly requires a 32-bit version of Python, and a 64-bit Golly requires a 64-bit Python.

On Windows and Linux, the Python library is loaded at runtime (the first time you try to run a script). Golly initially attempts to load a particular version of the Python library: python27.dll on Windows or libpython2.7.so on Linux. The numbers correspond to Python version 2.7. If that library can't be found then you'll be prompted to enter a different library name matching the version of Python installed on your system. A successfully loaded library is remembered (in your GollyPrefs file) so you won't get the prompt again unless you remove Python or install a new version. If Python isn't installed then you'll have to hit Cancel and you won't be able to run any .py scripts.

 
Example scripts

The Scripts folder supplied with Golly contains a number of example Python scripts:

density.py — calculates the density of the current pattern
draw-lines.py — lets you draw one or more straight lines
envelope.py — uses multiple layers to remember a pattern's live cells
flood-fill.py — fills a clicked region with the current drawing state
goto.py — goes to a given generation
gun-demo.py — constructs a few spaceship guns
heisenburp.py — illustrates the use of cloned layers
invert.py — inverts all cell states in the current selection
make-torus.py — makes a toroidal universe from the current selection
metafier.py — converts the current selection into a meta pattern
move-object.py — lets you move a connected group of live cells
move-selection.py — lets you move the current selection
oscar.py — detects oscillating patterns, including spaceships
pd-glider.py — creates a set of pentadecathlon+glider collisions
pop-plot.py — displays a plot of population versus time
shift.py — shifts the current selection by given x y amounts
slide-show.py — displays all patterns in the Patterns folder
tile.py — tiles the current selection with the pattern inside it
tile-with-clip.py — tiles the current selection with the clipboard pattern

To run one of these scripts, tick the Show Files item in the File menu, open the Scripts/Python folder and then simply click on the script's name. You can also select one of the Run items in the File menu. For a frequently used script you might like to assign a keyboard shortcut to run it (see Preferences > Keyboard).

When Golly starts up it looks for a script called golly-start.py in the same directory as the Golly application and then in a user-specific data directory (see the getdir command for the likely path on your system). If the script is found then it is automatically executed.

There are a number of ways to abort a running script. Hit the escape key, or click on the stop button in the tool bar, or select the Stop item in the Control menu.

 
Golly's scripting commands

This section describes all the commands that can be used in a script after importing the golly module. The examples below assume you've done the import by including this line:

import golly as g

Commands are grouped by function (filing, editing, control, viewing, layers and miscellaneous) or you can search for individual commands alphabetically:

addlayer
advance
autoupdate
check
clear
clone
copy
cut
dellayer
doevent
duplicate
empty
error
evolve
exit
fit
fitsel
flip
getalgo
getbase
getcell
getcells
getclip
getclipstr
getcolor
getcolors
getcursor
getdir
getevent
getgen
getheight
getlayer
getmag
getname
getoption
getpop
getpos
getrect
getrule
getselrect
getstep
getstring
getview
getwidth
getxy
hash
join
load
maxlayers
movelayer
new
note
numalgos
numlayers
numstates
open
opendialog
parse
paste
putcells
randfill
reset
rotate
run
save
savedialog
select
setalgo
setbase
setcell
setclipstr
setcolor
setcolors
setcursor
setdir
setgen
setlayer
setmag
setname
setoption
setpos
setrule
setstep
setview
show
shrink
step
store
transform
update
visrect
warn

 
FILING COMMANDS

open(filename, remember=False)
Open the given file and process it according to its type:

A non-absolute path is relative to the location of the script. The 2nd parameter is optional (default = False) and specifies if the given pattern or zip file should be remembered in the Open Recent submenu, or in the Run Recent submenu if the file is a script.
Example: g.open("my-patterns/foo.rle")

save(filename, format, remember=False)
Save the current pattern in a given file using the specified format:

"rle" run length encoded (RLE)
"rle.gz" compressed RLE
"mc" macrocell
"mc.gz" compressed macrocell

A non-absolute path is relative to the location of the script. The 3rd parameter is optional (default = False) and specifies if the file should be remembered in the Open Recent submenu. If the savexrle option is True then extended RLE format is used (see the Save Extended RLE item for details).
Example: g.save("foo.rle", "rle", True)

opendialog(title, filetypes, initialdir, initialfname, mustexist=True)
Present a standard Open dialog to the user and return the chosen path in a string. All parameters are optional; the default is an Open dialog showing the current directory, with a title of "Choose a file" and a file type of "All files (*)|*". If the 5th parameter (default = True) is set to False, the user can specify a new filename instead of choosing an existing file. If the given file type is "dir" then the dialog lets the user choose a directory rather than a file. If the user cancels the dialog, the return value will be an empty string.
Example: fname = g.opendialog("Open MCell File", "MCell files (*.mcl)|*.mcl", "C:\\Temp", "sample.mcl")
Example: dirname = g.opendialog("Choose a folder", "dir");

savedialog(title, filetypes, initialdir, initialfname, suppressprompt=False)
Present a standard Save dialog to the user and return the chosen path in a string. All parameters are optional; the default is a Save dialog showing the current directory, with a title of "Choose a save location and filename" and a file type of "All files (*)|*". If a file already exists at the chosen location, an Overwrite? query will be displayed unless the 5th parameter (default = False) is set to True. If the user cancels the dialog, the return value will be an empty string.
Example: fname = g.savedialog("Save text file", "Text files (*.txt;*.csv)|*.txt;*.csv", "C:\\Temp", "Params.txt", 1)

load(filename)
Read the given pattern file and return a cell list.
Example: blinker = g.load("blinker.rle")

store(cell_list, filename)
Write the given cell list to the specified file in RLE format. If the savexrle option is True then extended RLE format is used (see the Save Extended RLE item for details).
Example: g.store(clist, "foo.rle")

getdir(dirname)
Return the path of the specified directory:

"app" — the directory containing the Golly application.

"data" — the user-specific data directory:
On Linux: ~/.golly/
On Mac OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/Golly/
On Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Golly\
On Windows 7+: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Golly\

"temp" — the directory Golly uses to store various temporary files. All these files are deleted when Golly quits.

"rules" — the user-specific rules directory set in Preferences > Control.

"files" — the directory displayed by File > Show Files.

"download" — the directory Golly uses to store downloaded files.

In each case a full path is returned, terminated by the appropriate path separator for the current platform.
Example: g.open(g.getdir("app") + "Patterns/Life/Breeders/breeder.lif")

setdir(dirname, dirpath)
Set the specified directory to the given path (which must be a full path to an existing directory). All the directory names listed above are allowed, except for "app", "data" and "temp".
Example: g.setdir("download", "/path/to/my-downloads/")

 
EDITING COMMANDS

new(title)
Create a new, empty universe and set the window title. If the given title is empty then the current title won't change.
Example: g.new("test-pattern")

cut()
Cut the current selection to the clipboard.

copy()
Copy the current selection to the clipboard.

clear(where)
Clear inside (where = 0) or outside (where = 1) the current selection.
Example: g.clear(1)

paste(x, y, mode)
Paste the clipboard pattern at x,y using the given mode ("and", "copy", "or", "xor").
Example: g.paste(0, 0, "or")

shrink(remove_if_empty=False)
Shrink the current selection to the smallest rectangle enclosing all of the selection's live cells. If the selection has no live cells then the optional parameter specifies whether the selection remains unchanged or is removed.
Example: if len(g.getselrect()) > 0: g.shrink(True)

randfill(percentage)
Randomly fill the current selection to a density specified by the given percentage (1 to 100).
Example: g.randfill(50)

flip(direction)
Flip the current selection left-right (direction = 0) or top-bottom (direction = 1).

rotate(direction)
Rotate the current selection 90 degrees clockwise (direction = 0) or anticlockwise (direction = 1).

evolve(cell_list, numgens)
Advance the pattern in the given cell list by the specified number of generations and return the resulting cell list.
Example: newpatt = g.evolve(currpatt, 100)

join(cell_list1, cell_list2)
Join the given cell lists and return the resulting cell list. If the given lists are both one-state then the result is one-state. If at least one of the given lists is multi-state then the result is multi-state, but with one exception: if both lists have no cells then the result is [] (an empty one-state list) rather than [0]. See below for a description of one-state and multi-state cell lists.
Example: result = g.join(part1, part2)

transform(cell_list, x0, y0, axx=1, axy=0, ayx=0, ayy=1)
Apply an affine transformation to the given cell list and return the resulting cell list. For each x,y cell in the input list the corresponding xn,yn cell in the output list is calculated as xn = x0 + x*axx + y*axy, yn = y0 + x*ayx + y*ayy.
Example: rot_blinker = g.transform(blinker, 0, 0, 0, -1, 1, 0)

parse(string, x0=0, y0=0, axx=1, axy=0, ayx=0, ayy=1)
Parse an RLE or Life 1.05 string and return an optionally transformed cell list.
Example: blinker = g.parse("3o!")

putcells(cell_list, x0=0, y0=0, axx=1, axy=0, ayx=0, ayy=1, mode="or")
Paste the given cell list into the current universe using an optional affine transformation and optional mode ("and", "copy", "not", "or", "xor").
Example: g.putcells(currpatt, 6, -40, 1, 0, 0, 1, "xor")

getcells(rect_list)
Return any live cells in the specified rectangle as a cell list. The given list can be empty (in which case the cell list is empty) or it must represent a valid rectangle of the form [x,y,width,height].
Example: clist = g.getcells( g.getrect() )

getclip()
Parse the pattern data in the clipboard and return a cell list, but where the first two numbers are the pattern's width and height (not necessarily the minimal bounding box because the pattern might have empty borders, or it might even be empty). If the clipboard data is multi-state but all cell states happen to be zero then the returned cell list is [wd,ht] rather than [wd,ht,0].
Example: clist = g.getclip()

hash(rect_list)
Return an integer hash value for the pattern in the given rectangle. Two identical patterns will have the same hash value, regardless of their location in the universe. This command provides a fast way to detect pattern equality, but there is a tiny probability that two different patterns will have the same hash value, so you might need to use additional (slower) tests to check for true pattern equality.
Example: h = g.hash( g.getrect() )

select(rect_list)
Create a selection if the given list represents a valid rectangle of the form [x,y,width,height] or remove the current selection if the given list is [].
Example: g.select( [-10,-10,20,20] )

getrect()
Return the current pattern's bounding box as a list. If there is no pattern then the list is empty ([]), otherwise the list is of the form [x,y,width,height].
Example: if len(g.getrect()) == 0: g.show("No pattern.")

getselrect()
Return the current selection rectangle as a list. If there is no selection then the list is empty ([]), otherwise the list is of the form [x,y,width,height].
Example: if len(g.getselrect()) == 0: g.show("No selection.")

setcell(x, y, state)
Set the given cell to the specified state (0 for a dead cell, 1 for a live cell).

getcell(x, y)
Return the state of the given cell. The following example inverts the state of the cell at 0,0.
Example: g.setcell(0, 0, 1 - g.getcell(0, 0))

setcursor(string)
Set the current cursor according to the given string and return the old cursor string. The given string must match one of the names in the Cursor Mode menu.
Example: oldcurs = g.setcursor("Draw")

getcursor()
Return the current cursor as a string (ie. the ticked name in the Cursor Mode menu).

 
CONTROL COMMANDS

run(numgens)
Run the current pattern for the specified number of generations. Intermediate generations are never displayed, and the final generation is only displayed if the current autoupdate setting is True.
Example: g.run(100)

step()
Run the current pattern for the current step. Intermediate generations are never displayed, and the final generation is only displayed if the current autoupdate setting is True.

setstep(exp)
Temporarily set the current step exponent to the given integer. A negative exponent sets the step size to 1 and also sets a delay between each step, but that delay is ignored by the run and step commands. Golly will reset the step exponent to 0 upon creating a new pattern, loading a pattern file, or switching to a different algorithm.
Example: g.setstep(0)

getstep()
Return the current step exponent.
Example: g.setstep( g.getstep() + 1 )

setbase(base)
Temporarily set the current base step to an integer from 2 to 10000. Golly will restore the default base step (set in Preferences > Control) upon creating a new pattern, loading a pattern file, or switching to a different algorithm.
Example: g.setbase(2)

getbase()
Return the current base step.

advance(where, numgens)
Advance inside (where = 0) or outside (where = 1) the current selection by the specified number of generations. The generation count does not change.
Example: g.advance(0, 3)

reset()
Restore the starting pattern and generation count. Also reset the algorithm, rule, scale, location and step exponent to the values they had at the starting generation. The starting generation is usually zero, but it can be larger after loading an RLE/macrocell file that stores a non-zero generation count.

setgen(gen)
Set the generation count using the given string. Commas and other punctuation marks can be used to make a large number more readable. Include a leading +/- sign to specify a number relative to the current generation count.
Example: g.setgen("-1,000")

getgen(sepchar='\0')
Return the current generation count as a string. The optional parameter (default = '\0') specifies a separator character that can be used to make the resulting string more readable. For example, g.getgen(',') would return a string like "1,234,567" but g.getgen() would return "1234567". Use the latter call if you want to do arithmetic on the generation count because then it's easy to use int to convert the string to an integer. Note that Python supports arbitrarily large integers.
Example: gen = int( g.getgen() )

getpop(sepchar='\0')
Return the current population as a string. The optional parameter (default = '\0') specifies a separator character that can be used to make the resulting string more readable. For example, g.getpop(',') would return a string like "1,234,567" but g.getpop() would return "1234567". Use the latter call if you want to do arithmetic on the population count. The following example converts the population to a floating point number.
Example: pop = float( g.getpop() )

empty()
Return True if the universe is empty or False if there is at least one live cell. This is much more efficient than testing getpop() == "0".
Example: if g.empty(): g.show("All cells are dead.")

numstates()
Return the number of cell states in the current universe. This will be a number from 2 to 256, depending on the current algorithm and rule.
Example: maxstate = g.numstates() - 1

numalgos()
Return the number of algorithms (ie. the number of items in the Set Algorithm menu).
Example: maxalgo = g.numalgos() - 1

setalgo(string)
Set the current algorithm according to the given string which must match one of the names in the Set Algorithm menu.
Example: g.setalgo("HashLife")

getalgo(index=current)
Return the algorithm name at the given index in the Set Algorithm menu, or the current algorithm's name if no index is supplied.
Example: lastalgo = g.getalgo( g.numalgos() - 1 )

setrule(string)
Set the current rule according to the given string. If the current algorithm doesn't support the specified rule then Golly will automatically switch to the first algorithm that does support the rule. If no such algorithm can be found then you'll get an error message and the script will be aborted.
Example: g.setrule("b3/s23")

getrule()
Return the current rule as a string in canonical format.
Example: oldrule = g.getrule()

getwidth()
Return the width (in cells) of the current universe (0 if unbounded).
Example: wd = g.getwidth()

getheight()
Return the height (in cells) of the current universe (0 if unbounded).
Example: ht = g.getheight()

 
VIEWING COMMANDS

setpos(x, y)
Change the position of the viewport so the given cell is in the middle. The x,y coordinates are given as strings so the viewport can be moved to any location in the unbounded universe. Commas and other punctuation marks can be used to make large numbers more readable. Apart from a leading minus sign, most non-digits are simply ignored; only alphabetic characters will cause an error message. Note that positive y values increase downwards in Golly's coordinate system.
Example: g.setpos("1,000,000,000,000", "-123456")

getpos(sepchar='\0')
Return the x,y position of the viewport's middle cell in the form of a Python tuple containing two strings. The optional parameter (default = '\0') specifies a separator character that can be used to make the resulting strings more readable. For example, g.getpos(',') might return two strings like "1,234" and "-5,678" but g.getpos() would return "1234" and "-5678". Use the latter call if you want to do arithmetic on the x,y values, or just use the getposint() function defined in the glife package.
Example: x, y = g.getpos()

setmag(mag)
Set the magnification, where 0 corresponds to the scale 1:1, 1 = 1:2, -1 = 2:1, etc. The maximum allowed magnification is 5 (= 1:32).
Example: g.setmag(0)

getmag()
Return the current magnification.
Example: g.setmag( g.getmag() - 1 )

fit()
Fit the entire pattern in the viewport.

fitsel()
Fit the current selection in the viewport. The script aborts with an error message if there is no selection.

visrect(rect_list)
Return True if the given rectangle is completely visible in the viewport. The rectangle must be a list of the form [x,y,width,height].
Example: if g.visrect( [0,0,44,55] ): . . .

setview(wd, ht)
Set the pixel width and height of the viewport (the main window will be resized accordingly).
Example: g.setview(32*32, 32*30)

getview()
Return the pixel width and height of the viewport.
Example: wd, ht = g.getview()

autoupdate(bool)
When Golly runs a script this setting is initially False. If the given parameter is True then Golly will automatically update the viewport and the status bar after each command that changes the universe or viewport in some way. Useful for debugging Python scripts.
Example: g.autoupdate(True)

update()
Immediately update the viewport and the status bar, regardless of the current autoupdate setting. Note that Golly always does an update when a script finishes.

 
LAYER COMMANDS

addlayer()
Add a new, empty layer immediately after the current layer and return the new layer's index, an integer from 0 to numlayers() - 1. The new layer becomes the current layer and inherits most of the previous layer's settings, including its algorithm, rule, scale, location, cursor mode, etc. The step exponent is set to 0, there is no selection, no origin offset, and the layer's initial name is "untitled".
Example: newindex = g.addlayer()

clone()
Like addlayer (see above) but the new layer shares the same universe as the current layer. The current layer's settings are duplicated and most will be kept synchronized so that a change to one clone automatically changes all the others. Each cloned layer does however have a separate viewport, so the same pattern can be viewed at different scales and locations (at the same time if layers are tiled).
Example: cloneindex = g.clone()

duplicate()
Like addlayer (see above) but the new layer has a copy of the current layer's pattern. Also duplicates all the current settings but, unlike a cloned layer, the settings are not kept synchronized.
Example: dupeindex = g.duplicate()

dellayer()
Delete the current layer. The current layer changes to the previous layer (unless layer 0 was deleted).

movelayer(fromindex, toindex)
Move a specified layer to a new position in the layer sequence. The chosen layer becomes the current layer.
Example: g.movelayer(1, 0)

setlayer(index)
Set the current layer to the layer with the given index, an integer from 0 to numlayers() - 1.
Example: g.setlayer(0)

getlayer()
Return the index of the current layer, an integer from 0 to numlayers() - 1.
Example: currindex = g.getlayer()

numlayers()
Return the number of existing layers, an integer from 1 to maxlayers().
Example: if g.numlayers() > 1: g.setoption("tilelayers",1)

maxlayers()
Return the maximum number of layers (10 in this implementation).

setname(string, index=current)
Set the name of the given layer, or the current layer's name if no index is supplied.
Example: g.setname("temporary")

getname(index=current)
Return the given layer's name, or the current layer's name if no index is supplied.
Example: if g.getname() == "temporary": g.dellayer()

setcolors(color_list)
Set the color(s) of one or more states in the current layer and its clones (if any). If the given list contains a multiple of 4 integers then they are interpreted as state, red, green, blue values. A state value of -1 can be used to set all live states to the same color (state 0 is not changed). If the given list contains exactly 6 integers then they are interpreted as a color gradient from r1, g1, b1 to r2, g2, b2 for all the live states (state 0 is not changed). If the given list is empty then all states (including state 0) are reset to their default colors, depending on the current algorithm and rule. Note that the color changes made by this command are only temporary. Golly will restore the default colors if a new pattern is opened or created, or if the algorithm or rule changes, or if Preferences > Color is used to change any of the default colors for the current layer's algorithm.
Example: g.setcolors([1,0,0,0, 2,0,0,0]) # set states 1 and 2 to black
Example: g.setcolors([-1,0,255,0]) # set all live states to green
Example: g.setcolors([255,0,0, 0,0,255]) # live states vary from red to blue
Example: g.setcolors([]) # restore default colors

getcolors(state=-1)
Return the color of a given state in the current layer as a list of the form

[ state, red, green, blue ]

or if the given state is -1 (or not supplied) then return all colors as

[ 0, r0, g0, b0, . . . N, rN, gN, bN ]

where N equals numstates() - 1. Note that the list returned by getcolors can be passed into setcolors; this makes it easy to save and restore colors.
Example: allcolors = g.getcolors()
Example: deadcolor = g.getcolors(0)

 
MISCELLANEOUS COMMANDS

setoption(name, value)
Set the given option to the given value. The old value is returned to make it easy to restore a setting. Here are all the valid option names and their possible values:

"autofit" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"boldspacing" 2 to 1000 (cells)
"drawingstate" 0 to numstates()-1
"fullscreen" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"hyperspeed" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"maxdelay" 0 to 5000 (millisecs)
"mindelay" 0 to 5000 (millisecs)
"opacity" 1 to 100 (percent)
"restoreview" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"savexrle" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showallstates" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showboldlines" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showeditbar" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showexact" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showfiles" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showgrid" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showhashinfo" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showicons" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showlayerbar" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showstatusbar" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"showtoolbar" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"smartscale" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"stacklayers" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"swapcolors" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"switchlayers" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"synccursors" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"syncviews" 1 or 0 (True or False)
"tilelayers" 1 or 0 (True or False)

Example: oldgrid = g.setoption("showgrid", True)

getoption(name)
Return the current value of the given option. See above for a list of all the valid option names.
Example: if g.getoption("autofit"): g.fit()

setcolor(name, r, g, b)
Set the given color to the given RGB values (integers from 0 to 255). The old RGB values are returned as a 3-tuple to make it easy to restore the color. Here is a list of all the valid color names and how they are used:

"border" color for border around bounded grid
"paste" color for pasting patterns
"select" color for selections (will be 50% transparent)
algoname status bar background for given algorithm

Example: oldrgb = g.setcolor("HashLife", 255, 255, 255)

getcolor(name)
Return the current RGB values for the given color as a 3-tuple. See above for a list of all the valid color names.
Example: selr, selg, selb = g.getcolor("select")

getclipstr()
Return the current contents of the clipboard as an unmodified string.
Example: illegalRLE = g.getclipstr()

setclipstr(string)
Copy an arbitrary string (not necessarily a cell pattern) directly to the clipboard.
Example: g.setclipstr(correctedRLE)

getstring(prompt, initial="", title="")
Display a dialog box and get a string from the user. If the initial string is supplied it will be shown and selected. If the title string is supplied it will be used in the dialog's title bar. The script will be aborted if the user hits the dialog's Cancel button.
Example: i = int( g.getstring("Enter a number:", "100") )

getevent(get=True)
When Golly runs a script it initially handles all keyboard and mouse events, but if the script calls getevent() then future events are put into a queue for retrieval via later calls. These events are returned in the form of strings (see below for the syntax). If there are no events in the queue then the returned string is empty. Note that the very first getevent() call will always return an empty string, but this isn't likely to be a problem because it normally occurs very soon after the script starts running. A script can call getevent(False) if it wants Golly to resume handling any further events. See flood-fill.py for a good example.

Keyboard events are strings of the form "key charname modifiers" where charname can be any displayable ASCII character from '!' to '~' or one of the following names: space, home, end, pageup, pagedown, help, insert, delete, tab, enter, return, left, right, up, down, or f1 to f24. If no modifier key was pressed then modifiers is none, otherwise it is some combination of alt, cmd, ctrl, meta, shift. Note that cmd will only be returned on a Mac and corresponds to the command key. The alt modifier corresponds to the option key on a Mac.

Mouse events are strings of the form "click x y button modifiers" where x and y are integers giving the cell position of the click, button is one of left, middle or right, and modifiers is the same as above. The following examples show the strings returned after various user events:

"key m none" user pressed M key
"key space shift" user pressed space bar and shift key
"key , altctrlshift" user pressed comma and 3 modifier keys
"click 100 20 left none" user clicked cell at 100,20 with left button
"click -10 9 middle alt" user clicked cell with middle button and pressed alt key
"click 0 1 right altshift" user clicked cell with right button and pressed 2 modifiers

Example: evt = g.getevent()

doevent(event)
Pass the given event to Golly to handle in the usual manner (but events that can change the current pattern will be ignored). The given event must be a string with the exact same format as returned by the getevent command (see above). If the string is empty then Golly does nothing. Note that the cmd modifier corresponds to the command key on a Mac or the control key on Windows/Linux (this lets you write portable scripts that work on any platform).
Example: g.doevent("key q cmd") # quit Golly

getxy()
Return the mouse's current grid position as a string. The string is empty if the mouse is outside the viewport or outside a bounded grid or over the translucent buttons, otherwise the string contains x and y cell coordinates separated by a space; eg. "-999 12345". See draw-lines.py for a good example of how to use this command.
Example: mousepos = g.getxy()

show(message)
Show the given string in the bottom line of the status bar. The status bar is automatically shown if necessary.
Example: g.show("Hit any key to continue...")

error(message)
Beep and show the given string in the bottom line of the status bar. The status bar is automatically shown if necessary.
Example: g.error("The pattern is empty.")

warn(message)
Beep and show the given string in a modal warning dialog. Useful for debugging Python scripts or displaying error messages.
Example: g.warn("xxx = " + str(xxx))

note(message)
Show the given string in a modal information dialog. Useful for displaying multi-line results.
Example: g.note("Line 1\nLine 2\nLine 3")

check(bool)
When Golly runs a script this setting is initially True, which means that event checking is enabled. If the given parameter is False then event checking is disabled. Typically used to prevent mouse clicks being seen at the wrong time. This should only be done for short durations because the script cannot be aborted while the setting is False.
Example: g.check(False)

exit(message="")
Exit the script with an optional error message. If a non-empty string is supplied then it will be displayed in the status bar along with a beep, just like the error command. If no message is supplied, or if the string is empty, then there is no beep and the current status bar message will not be changed.
Example: if g.empty(): g.exit("There is no pattern.")

 
Cell lists

Some scripting commands manipulate patterns in the form of cell lists. Golly supports two types of cell lists: one-state and multi-state. A one-state cell list contains an even number of integers specifying the x,y coordinates for a set of cells, all of which are assumed to be in state 1:

[ x1, y1, . . . xN, yN ]

A multi-state cell list contains an odd number of integers specifying the x,y,state values for a set of cells. If the number of cells is even then a padding integer (zero) is added at the end of the list to ensure the total number of integers is odd:

[ x1, y1, state1, . . . xN, yN, stateN ]      if N is odd
[ x1, y1, state1, . . . xN, yN, stateN, 0 ]  if N is even

All scripting commands that input cell lists use the length of the list to determine its type. When writing a script to handle multi-state cell lists you may need to allow for the padding integer, especially if accessing cells within the list. See tile.py for example.

Note that all scripting commands return [] if the resulting cell list has no cells. They never return [0], although this is a perfectly valid multi-state cell list and all commands can input such a list. For example, newlist = g.join(list1,[0]) can be used to convert a non-empty one-state list to multi-state.

One-state cell lists are normally used in a two-state universe, but they can also be used in a universe with more than two states. A multi-state cell list can be used in a two-state universe, but only if the list's cell states are 0 or 1.

The ordering of cells within either type of list doesn't matter. Also note that positive y values increase downwards in Golly's coordinate system.

 
Rectangle lists

Some commands manipulate rectangles in the form of lists. An empty rectangle is indicated by a list with no items; ie. []. A non-empty rectangle is indicated by a list containing four integers:

[ left, top, width, height ]

The first two items specify the cell at the top left corner of the rectangle. The last two items specify the rectangle's size (in cells). The width and height must be greater than zero.

 
Using the glife package

The glife folder included in the Scripts/Python folder is a Python package that provides a high-level interface to some of Golly's scripting commands (it's based on Eugene Langvagen's life package included in PLife). When a script imports glife or any of its submodules, Python automatically executes the __init__.py module. This module defines the pattern and rect classes as well as a number of useful synonyms and helper functions. For example, consider this script:

from glife import *
blinker = pattern("3o!")
blinker.put(1, 2)
blinker.put(6, 7, rcw)   # rcw means rotate clockwise

Here is the equivalent script without using glife:

import golly as g
blinker = g.parse("3o!")
g.putcells(blinker, 1, 2)
g.putcells(blinker, 6, 7, 0, -1, 1, 0)

Here are some helper functions defined in glife:

validint(s) — return True if given string is a valid integer
getposint() — return viewport position as a tuple with 2 integers
setposint(x,y) — use given integers to set viewport position
getminbox(patt) — return minimal bounding box of given pattern

Most of the supplied Python scripts import glife, but it isn't compulsory. You might prefer to create your own high-level interface for the scripts you write.

 
Potential problems

1. The Python interpreter's memory allocator never releases memory back to the operating system. If you run a complicated or buggy script that uses lots of (Python) memory then that memory is no longer available for use by Golly, so you might need to quit Golly and restart. Python 2.5 has a smarter memory allocator that does release memory in some stuations, but it's still far from ideal.

2. The first time you run a script that imports a particular module, the Python interpreter caches the results so it won't need to reload that module the next time it is imported. This is good for efficiency, but it's a problem if you've modified an imported module and you want to test your changes. One solution is to quit Golly and restart. Another solution is to force the module to be reloaded by inserting a line like

import mymodule ; reload(mymodule)

at the start of each script that imports the module. When the module is stable you can remove or comment out the reload command.

3. The escape key check to abort a running script is not done by Python but by each Golly scripting command. This means that very long Python computations should call an occasional "no-op" command like g.doevent("") to allow the script to be aborted in a timely manner.

4. When writing a script that creates a pattern, make sure the script starts with a new command (or, less useful, an open command) otherwise the script might create lots of temporary files or use lots of memory. From the undo history's point of view there are two types of scripts:

 
Python on Mac OS X

Even though Apple supply Python with OS X, it is usually not the latest version. Golly is linked against the Python 2.6 framework stored in /System/Library/Frameworks. If you have Python 2.7 installed in your system you can tell Golly to use it by quitting Golly, opening Terminal.app and entering this command (on one line):

install_name_tool -change \
/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.6/Python \
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/Python \
/path/to/Golly/folder/Golly.app/Contents/MacOS/Golly

If you ever need to switch back to the older Python then just run the command again with the framework paths swapped. To verify which version of Python Golly is using, copy the following code and select Run Clipboard from the File menu:

import golly, sys
golly.note(sys.version)

 
Python copyright notice

Golly uses an embedded Python interpreter to execute scripts. The Python license agreement is included in Golly's LICENSE file. Here is the official Python copyright notice:

Copyright (c) 2001-2007 Python Software Foundation.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) 2000 BeOpen.com.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) 1995-2001 Corporation for National Research Initiatives.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright (c) 1991-1995 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam.
All Rights Reserved.