The Free and Open Productivity Suite
Released: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.15

Python-UNO bridge

IMPORTANT: Workarounds for pyuno problems in OOo3.0.0

There are some problems with pyuno in OOo3.0.0 (in particular with the python executable). Here the known problems and the workarounds for the moment .
  1. (windows only) The python scripting framework (scripts within openoffice via Extras/Macro/) does not work, when you have a python 2.3 installed on your windows system (more precisly, when there exists a python23.dll in your windows/system32 directory). You can work around it for now by copying Basis\program\python23.dll to program\. beside the soffice.bin executable. This forces the soffice process to load the correct library beside the office process. (94993)
  2. (windows only) When you try to connect to a running office process, you get Connector  couldn't connect to socket (WSANOTINITIALISED, WSAStartup() has not been called) 
    You can workaround this, by placing a
    import socket
    in the top of your script (95028)
  3. (windows only) The python program crashes or you get an attribute error
    AttributeError: getCurrentComponent  (or some other attribute)
    This is because the types could not be loaded due to changes in the uno bootstrapping mechanism. You can work around it for now by setting the URE_BOOTSTRAP variable (adapt to your installation path, replace every space with a %20, change \ to /).
    set URE_BOOTSTRAP=file:///C:/Program%20Files/
    and run python. Alternatively, you can set URE_BOOTSTRAP=fundamental.ini when your current working directory is beside the python executable. (95024)
  4. (windows only) Interactive mode in python does not work correctly When you start the python executable without parameters, the interactive session runs somewhat fuzzy (at least on my machine). When you get the prompt >>>> , everything you type will be interpreted as a shell command. When you then just press return, you are prompted with your current working directory, here you can place a python command, so in short, you have to press return 2 times after every python command (95037).
  5. ( unix only), you need to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH correctly before starting the python executable, eg.
      export set LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:../../


- Translations
- Introduction
- Download
- State
- Tutorial
-- PyUNO Installation
-- PyUNO Bridge Modes
-- More examples
- UNO language binding
-- UNO type mapping
-- Implementing UNO objects
-- Implementing UNO components
-- Out parameter handling
-- Exception handling
-- current context support (since OOo 2.0.2)
-- unohelper module
-- logging (since OOo 2.0.2)
-- Implementing UNO components with multiple source files (since OOo 2.4)
- Dependencies
- Bootstrapping in non-OOo environments
- Replacing the python runtime
- Regressiontests
- External references
- FAQ (read this FIRST when you have problems)
- Known pyuno extensions for OOo
- PyUNO needs you !
- Authors
- License


Find here a shortened Spanish version of this document.


The Python-UNO bridge allows to

You can find the most current version of this document from


You can also download this documentation for offline work.

Download ( less than 0.5 MB).


The Python-UNO bridge is feature complete, but has not been used extensively, so it may contain some bugs. It is now integrated in the source trees. ( 1.0.x is not supported.)

The documentation in its current state is targeted at developers who have already some experience with API and with some other programming language (Java/C++/StarBasic). It is recommended that you read that some background information from the developer manual before looking at the specifics of python.

PyUNO tutorial for

This tutorial shows, how the PyUNO bridge can be used to automate This is not an tutorial, there is lots of resources available in the office development kit and the developer manual.

PyUNO Installation

Since OpenOffice1.1, PyUNO is included in the default installation.

PyUNO bridge modes

PyUNO can be used in three different modes:

  1. Inside the process within the scripting framework (OOo 2.0 and later only !!),
  2. Inside the python executable (and outside the OOo process)
    Python ipc mode

    Use this mode, when you

    • begin to use PyUNO (as it is the more intuitive approach).
    • want to trigger script execution by starting a separate process (e.g. a cgi-script within a http-server).
    • want the shortest turnaround times (code - execute - code - execute ...)

    Hello World

    Make sure, that is not running (note that on windows you must also terminate the quick starter in the system tray at the right bottom of your desktop). Start a system shell ( cmd on Win NT/2000/XP, command on Win9x, tcsh or bash on Unix). Switch to the Office program directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\OpenOffice.org1.1\program ) and start the office with the following command line parameters

    c:\Program Files\OpenOffice1.1\program>  soffice "-accept=socket,host=localhost,port=2002;urp;"

    Now use your favourite text editor to create the following sample program:

    import socket  # only needed on win32-OOo3.0.0
    import uno
    # get the uno component context from the PyUNO runtime
    localContext = uno.getComponentContext()
    # create the UnoUrlResolver
    resolver = localContext.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
    				"", localContext )
    # connect to the running office
    ctx = resolver.resolve( "uno:socket,host=localhost,port=2002;urp;StarOffice.ComponentContext" )
    smgr = ctx.ServiceManager
    # get the central desktop object
    desktop = smgr.createInstanceWithContext( "",ctx)
    # access the current writer document
    model = desktop.getCurrentComponent()
    # access the document's text property
    text = model.Text
    # create a cursor
    cursor = text.createTextCursor()
    # insert the text into the document
    text.insertString( cursor, "Hello World", 0 )
    # Do a nasty thing before exiting the python process. In case the
    # last call is a oneway call (e.g. see idl-spec of insertString),
    # it must be forced out of the remote-bridge caches before python
    # exits the process. Otherwise, the oneway call may or may not reach
    # the target object.
    # I do this here by calling a cheap synchronous call (getPropertyValue).

    Now start the above script with the python script located in the program directory

    c:\Program Files\OpenOffice1.1\program> .\python
    Note: You must use the script/batch file in the program directory to start python, simply starting the python executable in the runtime directory (or from python installation installed somewhere else on your machine) will not work.

    This scripts prints "Hello World" into the current writer document.

  3. Inside the (OOo) process

    Python mode component

    Use this mode, when

    • you want to easily roll out your code to multiple other machines (using UNO packages)
    • your scripts shall get triggered by UI events (menu or toolbars)
    • you have collected some experience with PyUNO
    • you want your script to run with the best performance

    Hello World

    The above Hello World example is now recoded as a python UNO component, which means, that the code that does the insertion needs to be embedded in a python class. Additionally, the connecting-to-the-office-code needs to be replaced by a distinct entry point, which is used by the python loader to instantiate the python class.

    import uno
    import unohelper
    from import XJobExecutor
    # implement a UNO component by deriving from the standard unohelper.Base class
    # and from the interface(s) you want to implement.
    class HelloWorldJob( unohelper.Base, XJobExecutor ):
        def __init__( self, ctx ):
            # store the component context for later use
            self.ctx = ctx
        def trigger( self, args ):
            # note: args[0] == "HelloWorld", see below config settings
            # retrieve the desktop object
            desktop = self.ctx.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
                "", self.ctx )
            # get current document model
            model = desktop.getCurrentComponent()
            # access the document's text property
            text = model.Text
            # create a cursor
            cursor = text.createTextCursor()
            # insert the text into the document
            text.insertString( cursor, "Hello World", 0 )
    # pythonloader looks for a static g_ImplementationHelper variable
    g_ImplementationHelper = unohelper.ImplementationHelper()
    g_ImplementationHelper.addImplementation( \
            HelloWorldJob,                        # UNO object class
            "org.openoffice.comp.pyuno.demo.HelloWorld", # implementation name
    	                                      # Change this name for your own
    					      # script
            ("",),)          # list of implemented services
    	                                      # (the only service)

    The code needs to be linked to a user event. This can be done e.g. with the following configuration settings :


    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <oor:node xmlns:oor=""
    	     oor:name="Addons" oor:package="org.openoffice.Office">
    <node oor:name="AddonUI">
     <node oor:name="AddonMenu">
      <node oor:name="org.openoffice.comp.pyuno.demo.HelloWorld" oor:op="replace">
       <prop oor:name="URL" oor:type="xs:string">
       <prop oor:name="ImageIdentifier" oor:type="xs:string">
       <prop oor:name="Title" oor:type="xs:string">
        <value xml:lang="en-US">Insert Hello World</value>

    Both files must be packaged up into a single zip file by using your favourite zip utility, e.g. infozip.

    zip Addons.xcu
      adding: Addons.xcu (deflated 55%)
      adding: (deflated 55%) 

    This package can then be deployed into an installation using the pkgchk tool, which is located in the OOo program directory. Note, that the office must have been stopped before installing the package.

    Note: Make sure, that the PYTHONPATH environment variable is NOT set when you start pkgchk or soffice (see #i17339#). This may require, that you create a batch file for soffice on windows, unset PYTHONPATH in the system configuration or always start soffice from the shell with set PYTHONPATH= (windows) or unsetenv PYTHONPATH (Unix tcsh shell).

    c:\Program Files\OpenOffice.org1.1\program> pkgchk
    c:\Program Files\OpenOffice.org1.1\program>

    On success no output is given by the tool. When starts there is a new menu entry (see Tools/Additional Components/Insert Hello World).

As you have seen, the core script lines are identical, but the ways to retrieve the office component context differ.


UNO Language binding

In the following you find the full description about how UNO features are mapped to the python language.

UNO Type mapping

IDL datatype representation in python
integer types (byte, short, unsigned short, long, unsigned long, hyper, unsigned hyper Python internally knows only the C datatypes long and long long as integer types. On most machines, a long is a 32 bit value while long long is a 64 bit value.
  • Values coming from UNO (for instance the return value of a UNO method)

    Values which have the type byte, short, unsigned short, long or unsigned long are converted to a python long value. Values which have the type hyper or unsigned hyper are converted to a python long long.

  • Values going to UNO (for instance the argument of a UNO method)

    If there is a concrete type in the idl method signature, the value is converted to the concrete type (in fact the invocation service does this work). If the method signature just has an any, every integer value is converted to the smallest data type, where the value fits into and send to the UNO object ( so 5 becomes a byte, 150 becomes a short, 0x1f023 becomes a long and values larger than 0xffffffff become a hyper.

boolean Python internally has a boolean data type, which is derived from the integer type ( see ). There exists the singletons True and False, which pyuno uses to distinguish between integers and boolean values.

As long as a boolean is specified in the interface method signature, you may also use numbers. In the following example, all calls are valid:

#idl signature void takeBool( [in] boolean bool )

unoObject.takeBool( 1 )       # valid, passing true (PyUNO runtime
                              # does the conversion
unoObject.takeBool( True) )   # valid, passing true
unoObject.takeBool( False )   # valid, passing false

However, when you want to explicitly pass a boolean, where only an any is specified, you must use True or False.

# idl signature void foo( [in] any value )

# implementation expects a boolean (which is separately documented
# e.g. in the service specification. True ) # valid, pass a true 1 )    # bad, just passing a 1, implementation will
                      # probably not be able to deal with it correctly.

Note: There also exists the uno.Bool class, which has been deprecated since pyuno 0.9.2, but still supported. Don't use it anymore.


In general, the string is mapped to the python Unicode string. However, you may pass an 8 bit python string where a UNO string is expected, the bridge converts the 8 bit string to a Unicode string using the system locale.

# idl signature foo( [in] string value )
# both lines are valid u'my foo string' ) 'my foo string' )

A char is mapped to a uno.Char. It has a public Unicode string member value with length 1 containing the Unicode char.

# idl signature foo( [in] char c) uno.Char( u'h' ) )  #valid 'h' )               #wrong
enum A concrete enum value is represented by an instance of the class uno.Enum. It has two members, typeName is a string containing the name of the enum type and value contains the value of the enum.

You may create concrete enum values in two ways

  1. (suggested) by importing
    from enumname import enumvalue.

    For example:

    from import UNSIGNED_LONG
    unoObject.setValue( UNSIGNED_LONG )
    if unoObject.getValue() == UNSIGNED_LONG:
  2. (in rare situations)
    import uno
    unoObject.setValue( uno.Enum( "", "UNSIGNED_LONG") )
    if unoObject.getValue() == uno.Enum( "", "UNSIGNED_LONG"):
The first solution has the advantage, that a misspelled enum name already leads to a RuntimeException, when the python source file is imported.
type A type is mapped to a uno.Type. It has public members typeName (string) and typeClass (enum value of There exists a function uno.getTypeByName() to easily create a type instance, the functions raises a RuntimeException in case the type is unknown.

You may create concrete type values in two ways

  1. (suggested) by importing
    from module-where-type-lives-in import typeOfTypeName.

    For example to create XComponent's type, use

    from import typeOfXComponent
    unoObject.setType( typeOfXComponent )
    if unoObject.getType() == typeOfXComponent:
  2. (in rare situations, e.g. for types of simple values)

    import uno
    unoObject.setType( uno.getTypeByName( "" ) )
    if unoObject.getType() == uno.getTypeByName( ""):
struct (and exception) For each UNO struct (or exception), a new python class is generated on the fly. It is guaranteed, that there is only one instance of the struct (or exception) class per python interpreter instance. The generated class does reflect the inheritance hierarchy of the concrete UNO type (e.g. important for exception handling, see below).

One can generate a struct class by using the import mechanism. An instance of a struct can then be instantiated by using the python constructor. The constructor supports zero arguments (members get default constructed), 1 argument which the same type (copy constructor), and n arguments, where n is the number of elements of the concrete struct. The struct supports the equality operator, two structs are equal, if they are of the same type and each member is equal.


from import PropertyValue
from import Exception,RuntimeException

propVal = PropertyValue()                 # Default constructor
propVal.Name = "foo"
propVal.Value = 2

if propVal == PropertyValue( "foo", 2 ):  # Memberwise constructor
   # true !

if propVal == PropertyValue( propVal ):   # Copy Constructor
   # true

An instance of a UNO struct can be initially constructed with the function uno.createUnoStruct() and passing the name of the struct as the first parameter and optional constructor arguments (see above for an example of possible ctors).

ATTENTION: In UNO, structs have value semantic, however the handling in python does not reflect this. When a struct gets passed as a parameter to a function, the values are passed to the callee. Later modification of the struct instance does not influence the callee anymore. However, simply assigning a struct to another local variable does not create a copy, but simply creates an alias to the original instance.

struct = uno.createUnoStruct( "" )

struct.Name = "foo"
struct2 = struct
struct2.Name = "python"           # modifies also struct, probably not desired ! struct, struct2 ) # passes the same struct 2 times !

struct.Name = "doobidooo"         # even worse style. If the UNO object is implemented
                                  # in python, you possibly modify the callee's value.
				  # Don't do this !
sequence A sequence is in general mapped to a python tuple. A python list is not (!) accepted.
# idl signature XInterface createInstanceWithArguments(
#                        [in] string servicename,  [in] sequence <any> )
doc = smgr.createInstanceWithArguments( "foo.service", ("arg1",2))

Attention (since 0.9.2): The idl sequence<byte> is mapped to the class uno.ByteSequence. It has a string member named value, which holds the data of the byte sequence. As the bytesequence most often is a container for binary data, this class allows to handle binaries efficiently. This also embeds pyuno nicely into python, as python keeps binary data in strings. For example:

# idl signature writeBytes( [in] sequence%lt; byte > data )
out.writeBytes( uno.ByteSequence( "abc" ) )

# you could also write the following
begin = uno.ByteSequence( "ab" )
out.writeBytes( begin + "c" )

# but this does not work !
out.writeBytes( "abc" ) # ERROR, no implicit conversion supported by the runtime !

# idl signature long readBytes( [out] sequence<byte> , [in] length )
len,seq = in.readBytes( dummy, 3 )

# the statements do the same thing
print seq == "abc":
print seq == uno.ByteSequence( "abc" )
constants An UNO idl constant can be given by the following ways:
  1. Use the concrete value specified in the idl file
    A constant is its value and only its value. As modification of the constant values is incompatible, one may simply rely on the values.
  2. (suggested) Use the import mechanism to create variable with the constant name
    This solution is the most readable one.
  3. Use uno.getConstantByName()
    Might be useful from time to time. Function raises a RuntimeException in case the constant is unknown.
from import ATTRIBUTES
# the following 3 lines are equivalent
unoObject.setConcept( ATTRIBUTES )
unoObject.setConcept( 4 )
unoObject.setConcept( uno.getConstantByName( "" ) )
any In general, the python programmer does not come into touch with anys. At all places where anys appear in method signatures, the python programmer can simply pass a concrete value. Consequently, return values or out parameters also never contain a concrete any.

However, there are certain circumstances, where a python programmer may want to pass a concrete typed value to a callee (note, this is only possible for 'bridged' calls, you can't pass a typed any to another python uno object).

You can create a uno.Any() by passing the type (as typename or as uno.Type) and the value.

# constructs a uno.Any, that contains a byte
byteAny = uno.Any( "byte" , 5 )

# constructs a sequences of shorts
byteAny = uno.Any( "[]short", (4,5))

These anys can only be used in conjunction with the uno.invoke, which allows to invoke a method on an arbitrary UNO object with a typed any.

# the normal call
uno.setPropertyValue( "foo", (4,5))

# the uno.invoke call
uno.invoke( obj, "setPropertyValue" , ("foo",uno.Any( "[]short", (4,5))) )
When obj is a bridged object, the callee gets the sequence as a sequence<short>. When obj is a local python object, it gets simply the (4,5) as it would have got it with the normal call.

NOTE: There is currently a bug in pyuno (see #i31159#), which does not let you fill anys into structs (e.g. a PropertyValue struct contains an any). You can workaround this with the following code sample:

import uno
ctx = uno.getComponentContext()
class MagicTransformer:
    def __init__( self , ctx ):
        self.inv = ctx.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
            "", ctx )
        self.insp =  ctx.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
            "", ctx )
    def transform( self, struct , propName, value ):
        myinv = self.inv.createInstanceWithArguments( (struct,) )
        access = self.insp.inspect( myinv )
        method = access.getMethod( "setValue" , -1 )
        uno.invoke( method, "invoke", ( myinv, ( propName , value ) ))
        method = access.getMethod( "getMaterial" , -1 )
        ret,dummy = method.invoke(myinv,() )
        return ret

transformer = MagicTransformer( ctx )

# by default, the 100 becomes a byte
special = PropertyValue("TabStopPosition",0,100,DIRECT_VALUE)
print "before" + str(special)

# however, we want the 100 to be a int32 (which is a long in UNO idl)
special = transformer.transform( special, "Value" , uno.Any( "long", 100 ) )
print "after" + str(special)
The script gives you the following output:
before({ Name = (string)"TabStopPosition", Handle = (long)0x0, Value = (any){ (byte)0x64 }, State = ( }
after({ Name = (string)"TabStopPosition", Handle = (long)0x0, Value = (any){ (long)0x64 }, State = ( }

Implementing UNO objects

One may use python classes to implement UNO objects. Instances of a python class may then be passed as argument to UNO calls where anys or concrete interfaces are specified.

To be an UNO object, a python class MUST implement the interface by implementing two methods getTypes() and getImplementationId(), which inform the python-UNO bridge, which concrete UNO interfaces the python class implements. The getTypes() function defines, which interfaces are implemented by the class.

To make this easier, there exists a unohelper.Base class, where a python UNO object should derive from. You can then implement a UNO interface simply by deriving from the wanted interfaces. The following example implements a, which stores all data written into the stream within a ByteSequence. (Note that this is quite a poor implementation, which is just for demonstration purposes).

import unohelper
from import XOutputStream
class SequenceOutputStream( unohelper.Base, XOutputStream ):
      def __init__( self ):
          self.s = uno.ByteSequence("")
          self.closed = 0

      def closeOutput(self):
          self.closed = 1

      def writeBytes( self, seq ):
          self.s = self.s + seq

      def flush( self ):

      def getSequence( self ):
          return self.s

From the list of base classes given (here only XOutputStream), the unohelper.Base implementation correctly implements the XTypeProvider interface.

Implementing Python UNO components

There exists a loader for python components. It allows to create instances of python classes not just within the python process but in every arbitrary UNO process including The python loader loads the python runtime on demand if it is not already loaded and executes python code within the root python interpreter.

If the reader is unfamiliar with the component registration process, it should visit the developer manual for a comprehensive explanation.

The python loader currently supports the following protocols for incoming urls :

Protocol name Description
vnd.openoffice.pymodule The protocol dependent part is interpreted as a python module name, which is imported using the common python import mechanism (which uses the PYTHONPATH environment variable).

Example: vnd.openoffice.pymodule:MyPythonComponent
Using this url e.g. in XLoader.activate() will try to load a file from directories, which are listed within the PYTHONPATH environment/bootstrap variable. Note that you must not use the .py suffix here.

The given module is added to the sys.modules hash map.

file A mandatory absolute file url to a python component file. The file itself does not need to be contained within PYTHONPATH, but it may only import files, which are contained within PYTHONPATH. The module is not added to sys.modules.

Example: file:///path/to/

Since OOo 2.4.x, you can import self written python files from your component (see the multiple source file chapter ) The python loader supports the common macro expansion mechanisms as the Java or C++ loader does.


After the module has been imported, the python loader looks for a module-global variable with the name g_ImplementationHelper, which is expected to be an instance of unohelper.ImplementationHelper. The following sample code makes a uno component out of the above UNO object ( note that the component is not useful, because there is no UNO method to retrieve the tuple nor does a service specification exist, it's just here as an example).

import unohelper
from import XOutputStream

g_ImplementationHelper = unohelper.ImplementationHelper()

class TupleOutputStream( unohelper.Base, XOutputStream ):
      # The component must have a ctor with the component context as argument.
      def __init__( self, ctx ):
	  self.t = ()
	  self.closed = 0

      # idl void closeOutput();
      def closeOutput(self):
	  self.closed = 1

      # idl void writeBytes( [in] sequence<byte>seq );
      def writeBytes( self, seq ):
	  self.t = self.t + seq      # simply add the incoming tuple to the member

      # idl void flush();
      def flush( self ):

      # convenience function to retrieve the tuple later (no UNO function, may
      # only be called from python )
      def getTuple( self ):
	  return self.t

# add the TupleOutputStream class to the implementation container,
# which the loader uses to register/instantiate the component.
g_ImplementationHelper.addImplementation( \
Lets assume, that this code is stored in a file named and the file exists somewhere within the PYTHONPATH variable, it can be registered to an OO1.1beta build with the following command :

regcomp -register -br types.rdb -br services.rdb -r services.rdb -c vnd.openoffice.pymodule:tuplestrm

You can of course also use the pkgchk tool as explained in the tutorial chapter with


, but note, that this command creates a copy of the file (when the script changes,it must be redeployed using the above command).

The component can be instantiated e.g. from Basic with

tupleStrm = createUnoService( "" )

Out parameter handling

UNO out parameters are handled through the python multiple return value feature. For pure outparameters, a dummy None value should be used as a place holder. This is best explained with an example. Lets' assume we have the following IDL method spec

long foo( [in] long first, [inout] long second, [out] third )

A python UNO object implements such a method the following way:

class Dummy( XFoo ):
    def foo( self, first,second,third):
        # Note: the value of third is always None, but it must be there
	#       as a placeholder if more args would follow !
        return first,2*second,second + first
then such a method would be called from python the following way
ret,second,third = 2, 5 , None )
print ret,second,third    # results into 2,10,7

This also emphasizes, that out-parameters are quite close to multiple return values (though the semantic association of a inout parameter gets lost).

However, note that

Exception handling

The Python-UNO bridge uses the common Python exception handling mechanism. For every UNO exception, a concrete exception class is generated on the fly (see above type mapping table for an explanation how to do this).

Example for catching

from  import RuntimeException
from import IllegalArgumentException
from import NoConnectException
    uuresoler.resolve( "uno:socket,host=localhost,port=2002;urp;StarOffice.ComponentContext" )
except NoConnectException e:
    print "The process is not started or does not listen on the resource ("+e.Message+")"
except IllegalArgumentException e:
    print "The url is invalid ( "+ e.Message+ ")"
except RuntimeException e:
    print "An unknown error occurred: " + e.Message

Example for throwing

from import IOException
class TupleOutputStream(XOutputStream,unohelper.Base):
      def writeBytes( self, seq ):
          if self.closed:
	     raise IOException( "Output stream already closed", self )
          self.t = self.t + seq

current context support


pyuno supports the uno current context concept. There exist the functions uno.getCurrentContext() und uno.setCurrentContext( newContext ).

Furthermore, there exists a class unohelper.CurrentContext. The constructor accepts a hashmap with name/value pairs and the former context for delegation. Usage pattern:

   oldContext = uno.getCurrentContext()
          unohelper.CurrentContext( oldContext,{"My42":42}) )

      # ... do some uno calls, which may interpret the "My42"    
      uno.setCurrentContext( oldContext )
(Note, the oldContext may also be None).

unohelper module

The module contains some extra functions/classes, which are nice to use with pyuno, but not mandatory. This paragraph lists some of the features.

def systemPathToFileUrl( systemPath ) Returns a file-url for the given system path. Most of the OOo API functions expect a file-url, while the python runtime functions in general only work with system paths. The function is implemented using the core C function osl_getFileUrlFromSystemPath().
def fileUrlToSystemPath( url ) Returns a system path (determined by the system, the python interpreter is running on). Most OOo function return a file-url, while most python runtime functions expect system paths. The function is implemented by using the core osl_getSystemPathFromFileUrl() function.
def absolutize( path, relativeUrl ) Returns an absolute file url from a given, mandatory absolute, directory url and a relative file url, which may be absolute or relative (which includes e.g. ../ parts. The function is implemented by using the core osl_getAbsolutePathFromFileUrl() function.
def addComponentsToContext( toBeExtendedContext, contextRuntime, componentUrls, loaderName ) This functions adds a tuple of component urls to the toBeExtendedContext using the contextRuntime to instantiate the loader loaderName and some other services needed for this task. After completing the function, all services within these components can be instantiated as long as the toBeExtendedContext is not disposed. The changes are not made persistent.
def inspect( unoobject, file ) Dumps the typeinformation about the given UNO object into a file (in fact, file needs to be an instance of a class, that implements a write method). The typeinformation include implementation name, supported services, supported interfaces, supported methods and supported properties.



The pyuno bridge can now log every call bridged between python and uno. This may be a useful help when you need to debug or profile your code. There are two environment variables, which activate logging:

PYUNO_LOGLEVEL Valid values are
  • NONE - nothing is logged
  • CALL - the method name of every call is logged
  • ARGS - additionally, the arguments of every call are logged
NONE is default
  • stdout - logs to stdout (doesnt work on windows within
  • stderr - logs to stderr (doesnt work on windows within
  • file-url-prefix(relative urls allowed) - logs to files, which start with this string. The pid of the process is appended to the string (e.g. file:///c:/temp/bla will write to c:\temp\bla.235 if 235 is the pid of the current process)

(Since OOo 2.4) Implementing UNO components with multiple source files

Before the pythonloader tries to load a new python unocomponent, it looks beside the uno component for a file with the name or a directory named pythonpath . If it exists, it puts it into sys.path (if it is not already in there) and then tries to load the given component. Note, that the unocomponent file itself is not within PYTHONPATH and thus cannot be reimported by other modules.

This now means that python uno components can be implemented with an arbirtrary number of python source files which can be deployed/undeployed via the uno package mechanism. It also means, that you can now use the unohelper.Base implementation even if you have defined your own interface types (by lazy loading the new types so that they don't get used during registration process).

import uno
import unohelper

def createInstance( ctx ):
    # pythonpath/org/openoffice/comp/addin/sample/python/ contains the component implementation
    # TokenCounter uses a new type, importing it at the top of this file
    # leads to a failure during adding the extension to OOo. createInstance does not get called
    # during registration
    import org.openoffice.comp.addin.sample.python.tokencounter
    return org.openoffice.comp.addin.sample.python.tokencounter.TokenCounter( ctx )

# pythonloader looks for a static g_ImplementationHelper variable
g_ImplementationHelper = unohelper.ImplementationHelper()
g_ImplementationHelper.addImplementation( \

Have a look at the sample calc addin to see how it works.

Note that there are some negative side effects:


This chapter is most interesting for people who want to use the Python-UNO bridge independently from

Unlike the Java or C++ UNO binding, the python UNO binding is not self contained. It requires the C++ UNO binding and additional scripting components. These additional components currently live in the shared libraries,,,,,, (on windows,...; unix,...).

Often, the components for setting up an interprocess connection are also required. These are,,, shared libraries.

The path environment variables ( LD_LIBRARY_PATH on Unix, PATH on Windows) must point to a directory, where the core UNO libraries, the above listed components and the pyuno shared library is located. (On Unix, there exists two files: containing the code and a which is needed for importing a native python module). Additionally, the python module, and must be located in a directory, which is listed in the PYTHONPATH environment variable.

Bootstrapping pyuno from the python executable

When the uno module gets first imported from an arbitrary python script, it must bootstrap a properly prepared UNO component context.

# bootstraps the uno component context
import uno

# retrieve the already bootstrapped component context
unoContext = uno.getComponentContext()

As the python programmer can't (and probably doesn't want to) give parameters while importing a module, the python-uno binding uses the pyuno[rc|.ini] file located beside the pyuno shared library to bootstrap the UNO context (see uno bootstrap variable concept). The bootstrap variables UNO_SERVICES must point to a registry file where the components, given above, were registered.

PYUNOLIBDIR is a special bootstrap variable, which contains the path to the currently used pyuno shared library. Example:

# The bootstrap variable PYUNOLIBDIR will be set by the pyuno runtime library

If the above preconditions are fulfilled, the script can simply be started with

$ python

Sometimes it is preferable to mention the librarynames of the desired components directly within the script instead of preparing a registry (however note that the above mentioned bootstrap components always needs to be registered in a registry). This can be achieved by using the function unohelper.addComponentsToContext( toBeExtendedContext, contextRuntime, componentUrls, loaderName )


import uno
import unohelper

localContext = uno.getComponentContext()

       localContext, localContext, ("",),

pipe = localContext.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
              "", localContext )

pipe.writeBytes( uno.ByteSequence( "abc" ) )
ret,seq = pipe.readBytes( None, 3 )

Replacing the python runtime with your system's python installation

OOo by default ships with the Python-2.2.2 core runtime. This is fine for most users, but some hackers (or Linux distributors) may want to replace the runtime with the python system's installation, which may contain more optional packages that you want to use in python.

The replacement is a little complicated however you just need an installed python and office.


On windows, you can only use python-2.2. If you want to use python-2.3, you must recompile the pyuno module with python-2.3 (see below)


On Linux, you can use both use python-2.2 or python 2.3, but when using the latter, you get a warning on stderr (informing you about the version mismatch) when starting python or the office, to avoid the warning, you need to rebuild pyuno with python-2.3 (see below), however I haven't noticed any difficulties because of the version mismatch.


You should now be able to start system's python and type 'import uno'. If this works fine, use pkgchk to deploy your script, for example the above in (Tip: add a print sys.version to it). If this works fine, python should work well in itself.

I did only some rudimentary tests, but I didn't notice any significant problems. Let us know, if you have some.

Note that the Bibus project uses an extended python 2.2.2 with the wxPython/wxWindows extension for the GUI.

Rebuilding pyuno

You'll need to install OOo buildenv to do this. In the shell, replace the the PYTHONPATH variable properly, e.g.
setenv PYTHONPATH /usr/local/lib/python2.3:.:/usr/local/lib/python2.3/lib-dynload
Make sure, that system's python is in the PATH variable. Build the office (or at least all components, pyuno depends on) but leave out the python module. In the pyuno module itself, you should only build pyuno/source/module, pyuno/source/loader and pyuno/test, leave out the zipcore directory. You'll need to modify the pyuno/source/module/ and pyuno/source/loader/ Replace the CFLAGS+= line with CFLAGS+=-I/usr/local/include/python2.3 and all occurrences of -lpython with -lpython2.3.

When the test runs fine, you can now replace, and in the office with your rebuilt version.


In case you have modified python or pyuno, you should at least run the following regression tests.

External references

Python homepage
The component model developer manual

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do I get a 'bus error' when starting the hello-world-script on Solaris ?

    There seems to be a corrupted version of the in the OpenOffice.org1.1.0 installation set. The reason is not yet clear, might be either a bug in pyuno code or a build error. Please download to patch OOo1.1.0 version (do not apply this patch on any other version than OOo1.1.0 Solaris sparc!).
  2. Why do I get a 'SystemError: pyuno runtime is not initialized, ...' when starting the script ?

    • Pyuno was not installed correctly (OO1.1RC2 and earlier, fixed with RC3). Please check

      <openoffice-install>/program $ ls -c1d py*




      Under certain circumstances, it may occur, that the following ini files are missing

      pyunorc (or pyuno.ini on windows):


      pythonloader.unorc (or pythonloader.unorc on windows):

      PYTHONPATH=$ORIGIN/python-core/lib $ORIGIN/python-core/lib/lib-dynload $ORIGIN

      Simply cut and paste them into a text editor to create them.

    • There have been reported some failures with the above error message, which have not been resolved yet. You may want to follow #i17339#.
  3. Why do I get a 'SystemError: _PyImport_FixupExtension: module pyuno not loaded' when starting the script ?

    This generally happens when you still start the system's python installation. ships a python installation (because python and the office must have been built with the identical compiler version). Please check this with 'which python'. Simply use's python with absolute path names, for example use /usr/local/OpenOffice.org1.1/program/python
  4. Why do I get a "error: python-loader:'No module named pythonloader'" when running pkgchk with a python component ?

    Make sure to unset PYTHONPATH and PYTHONHOME (which you may have set, because you have another python installed on your system) environment variables before running soffice AND pkgchk. This is a workaround, We are currently thinking about a better solution.
  5. Why do I get an error message 'msvcr70.dll or python22.dll not found' when starting python ?
    (or Why do I get an 'error while loading shared libraries:' ? )

    You probably try to start python from the exe not the bat file, for example, c:\program files\OpenOffice.org1.1\program\python-runtime\bin\python.exe, but you have to use c:\program files\OpenOffice.org1.1\program\python.bat.
  6. Why do I get 'PYTHONPATH=... is not an identifier' when starting python ?

    This is a bug in the python script which occurs with older bash shell versions. Simply use a text editor to change the following lines in the OOo-install/program/ script

    export PYTHONPATH="$sd_prog":"$sd_prog/python-core/lib":"$sd_prog/python-core/lib/lib-dynload":"$PYTHONPATH"
    export PYTHONHOME="$sd_prog"/python-core


    export PYTHONPATH
    export PYTHONHOME

    This bug is fixed with OOo 1.1.1.

  7. I already have python installed on my system, why does the office ship another python ?

    Python itself is shipped with, because

    • python must have been compiled with the same C++ compiler as the office itself on all platforms that use the gcc compiler (e.g. Linux, BSD, etc.).
    • On most Unix platforms, no python shared libraries are available by default (though some distributions do so). This would have meant, that python UNO components cannot be executed within the office process.
    • Python component developers need a guaranteed minimum platform which they can rely on.
    • Recognition of a python runtime at the installation system would have been an extremely difficult and time consuming task becausemany different python installation schemes exist.
    • Packagers of will create their own packages, for example redhat or debian, without Python. The standard distribution must run on low end systems.
  8. Can I use system's python installation ?

    See here.
  9. Why does my UNO component crash, while the sample UNO component runs fine?

    There is a known bug in the office, see #i13377#, which was not fixed for OpenOffice.org1.1. The office in general crashes, when a python script leads to an unhandled exception (for example an attribute error).

    You may try to workaround this bug by adding a try: except: level in your trigger() implementation, which dumps an error message to stdout/stderr, but sadly this will not help in all cases (for example compilation failure for some reason, please follow the issue for further information).

    Of course, there may be other reasons for a crash, you will only know, when you try to retrieve a native callstack (for example by using gdb).

  10. Why doesn't Python's xml parser (expat) or the zip module work for me?

    These libraries don't yet get built for OOo1.1. This will change for OOo2.0. Alternatively you may use's xml parser service (see service or the zip content provider (see
  11. Why doesn't socket and sre module work in OOo1.1. python distribution on windows?

    This is a known bug on windows in the OOo1.1 build. This should be fixed for OOo1.1.1 (see issue 21281 ). It should work for the other platforms. You can workaround this by downloading the official windows python distribution (see and replacing the appropriate .pyd files in the OOo's python installation.
  12. The samples are running fine, but how do I get more information about the API ?

    The semantics of the API is a very complex topic, which can't be discussed in this python document. Try to gather information from other resources, especially from the developer manual (see below).
  13. Most examples in the devguide are in Java. How do I translate them to python code ?

    Most sample code you find there is written in Java. It is easy to translate Java code to python,when you know the following differences:

    In python you don't need queryInterface. E.g. Java code like

                oInterface = (XInterface) oMSF.createInstance(
    	                         "" );
                oCLoader = ( XComponentLoader ) UnoRuntime.queryInterface(
    	                         XComponentLoader.class, oInterface );
    	    PropertyValue [] szEmptyArgs = new PropertyValue [0];
    	    aDoc = oCLoader.loadComponentFromURL(
                         "private:factory/swriter" , "_blank", 0, szEmptyArgs );

    becomes in python simply

                oCLoader = oMSF.createInstance( "" )
    	    aDoc = oCLoader.loadComponentFromURL(
    	                 "private:factory/swriter", "_blank", 0, () )

    You don't need this intermediate oInterface variable anymore. So the python code simplifies the example a lot, with a little training, you shouldn't have too many problems to translating Java to python code.

  14. Why can't I call the print method?

    In python, 'print' is a statement. This basicly means there is no way to get a variable, method or anything else with this name. For example the below code does not work:
         doc = desktop.loadComponentFromURL(infileurl, "_blank", 0, ())
         doc.storeAsURL(outfileurl, ())
    You can workaround the problem by using the uno.invoke() function like below :
         uno.invoke(doc, "print", ((), ))
  15. Why can't I do a replace on the 'NumberingRules' object ?

    There are some places, where the loss in type safety leads to difficulties, as this issue shows The problem here is, that the C++ implementation within the office expects a sequence< PropertyValue >, while the PyUNO runtime converts it to a sequence< any>, where each any contains a PropertyValue. In my eyes, this is a bug within the C++ code. However here is a workaround for pyuno that the python scripter can use. See the sample below:

    import uno
    import unohelper
    localContext = uno.getComponentContext()
    resolver = localContext.ServiceManager.createInstanceWithContext(
        "", localContext)
    ctx = resolver.resolve(
    smgr= ctx.ServiceManager
    desktop = smgr.createInstanceWithContext("",ctx)
    doc = desktop.loadComponentFromURL("private:factory/swriter", "_blank", 0, ())
    style = doc.createInstance("")
    family = doc.getStyleFamilies().getByName('NumberingStyles')
    family.insertByName('List test', style)
    rule = style.getPropertyValue('NumberingRules')
    level = rule.getByIndex(0)
    # the normal call would have been:
    # rule.replaceByIndex( 0, level )
    # but this will end up in a exception
    # magic to pass the exact type to the callee
    uno.invoke( rule , "replaceByIndex", (0, uno.Any("[]",level)) )

    This is the only place, where the uno.Any is used. Using the uno.Any in normal calls will lead to RuntimeExceptions. A python uno object implementation will never receive an instance of uno.Any() as a incoming parameter, instead always the value within the is passed.

    This solution looks really ugly, but it allows you to continue, where you otherwise could only give up or use to another implementation language.

  16. How can I activate encoding iso8859-1 for's python installation ?

    Put a file called somewhere in your PYTHONPATH containing:
    import sys
    (or any other encoding you wish). However, note that this is generally not such a good idea. It would be much cleaner to do the necessary conversions explicitly in the code, for example using Unicode(x, 'iso8859-1').

Known PyUNO extensions for

Packages listed here can be taken as a demo of what is possible with pyuno. Let me know, if you are aware of other extensions using pyuno.

Title Link
PyOOoBib - The program will search library catalogs over the Internet for bibliographic records, you can select records and add them to the bibliographic database
Thessalonica - A tool to improve multilingual support in OOo
Bibus Bibliographic software - A demon for
pyXray - Debugging tool to visualize uno objects via the office toolkit
Ponto - A wrapper layer around writer documents

PyUNO needs YOU !

PyUNO is currently (and will be in future) maintained by myself in my spare time.

My main aim for pyuno is to provide a good integration of's component model into python. Some guys on demand to have a more feature rich python runtime in and an integration with the system's python installation. While this is an understandable demand, it is not one of my favourite topics to work on and it involves quite a lot of work. As I also spend time on the creation of a postgresql driver for, there is simply no time left for this task.

So I am looking for other volunteers such as you to fill this gap. In case you are interested, let me know via the mailing list or drop me a mail privately.

I currently see the following main tasks

Task Description Main 'challenges'
Raise OOo's python version to current python release

OOo currently uses python 2.2.2 with OOo 1.1.x and python 2.3.4, which is considerably old already. Someone doing this will mainly spend time in the python module of the buildtree, where the python tarball gets extracted, patched and built. This is a very platform dependent task, typically for Mac OS X you'll need to do a lot of patches.

OOo build knowledge, port current OOo python patches to current python version, maintain the build for both Windows and Unix platforms
Add support zlib library (and more ...) Currently, OOo's python comes without these libraries which are missed a lot by python users. Ideally, they should reuse the versions of zlib, which are already in the OOo source tree. OOo build knowledge, continue to maintain the build for both Windows and Unix platforms
Reintegrate OOo's patches to python into the python source tree (if sensible) A lot of patches get applied to the python source tarball, before it is built for You would need to review the patches and try to convince with the python code maintainers to integrate those patches (if sensible) into their source tree. This will make life easier when upgrading to future python versions. OOo build knowledge, understanding of the patches and discussion with the python community.
changes in python itself Real integration with the system's python installation will only be possible, if python itself is modified.
  • Unix: Is it really necessary, that the python executable is linked to libstdc++ library ?
  • Shared library: python should be built by default as a shared library (on all platforms, where this is possible).
  • Versioning: Python currently assumes, that native modules are built and run with identical python versions (otherwise warnings are issued). Newer python versions should guarantee binary backward compatibility for native modules built with older python versions.
Discuss with the python community.
PyUNO FAQ maintainer A lot of good questions on pyuno have already been, and will be, answered in future in the (or others) mailing lists. Someone should add it to the FAQ on this page. Follow mailing lists and maintain this page in CVS.
Knowledge of simple html.


The UNO python bridge was initially created by Ralph Thomas and is now maintained by Joerg Budischewski. Christian Zagrodnick sent in some very useful patches. Many unmentioned porters made it possible to have pyuno on all platforms supported by OOo. Last updated $Date: 2008/10/16 22:02:35 $

Please use the mailing list for further questions.


This document is available under PDL (Public Documentation License).

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