Unicode support

Libsaas supports both 2.x and 3.x versions of Python, so some rules about where to use Unicode and where to use byte strings need to be followed.

As defined in the standards, URLs are ASCII-only. Characters from outside of ASCII should be encoded using so-called percent encoding. Encoding schemes, such as UTF-8 or ISO-8859-2 are mostly outside of the scope of HTTP. Libsaas tries to be flexible in what it accepts as user input and handles encoding and percent quoting automatically for you.

When you pass a string parameter to a libsaas method, it will be coerced to bytes before percent-encoding, and UTF-8 will be used as the encoding. This means that in Python 2 parameters of the str type will be used as-is and unicode parameters will be encoded according to UTF-8. In Python 3 str parameters will be UTF-8 encoded and bytes will be used as-is.

If you need to send characters outside of ASCII in different encoding than UTF-8, encode them yourself and hand the bytes off to libsaas.

Data returned from libsaas methods might be encoded differently, depending on the method in question. For most APIs using JSON it will be Unicode, because the JSON standard mandates the use of UTF-8, making it easy to convert bytes received from the service into Unicode characters. Some APIs though might return binary data, such as APIs exporting images or providing access to raw files. When in doubt, consult the upstream service documentation.

Internal usage

This section is only relevant if you are extending libsaas. Normal users that only interact with libsaas via the methods it provides can safely skip it.

Internally, libsaas uses a structure called Request to prepare and execute a HTTP request. There are four pieces of information this structure holds:

  • the HTTP method to use
  • the URL (without query parameters)
  • the query parameters
  • HTTP headers

Here’s how each of them should be represented with regards to Unicode/bytes.

HTTP method

In both Python 2 and 3 this should be a str object, that only contains bytes from the ASCII range. Note that in Python 2 this represents a binary string and in Python 3 it means Unicode text. Since the HTTP method name can only include ASCII characters, the distinction is not important and using str makes it easy to write code that’s compatible with both Python 2 and 3.


Same as the HTTP method, it should be a string that only uses ASCII characters. Note that this means that libsaas methods should take care to encode user input adecuately before handing the Request over to the executor and they need to be prepared to accept both byte strings and text.

Query parameters

This can either be a mapping of strings to strings or a simple string value. The executor will accept both byte strings and text for keys and values of the mapping, as well as numbers. It is the executor’s responsibility to correctly encode and quote those value before making a HTTP request to the server.

HTTP headers

This should be a mapping of strings using ASCII characters to ASCII characters only (just like the HTTP method or the URL). According to RFC 2616 non-ASCII characters are allowed in headers, but should be mime-encoded (as defined in RFC 20147). If you need to use such values, encode them before handing the Request over to the executor.


Data passed to parsers from the executor is always binary, which means that on Python 2 it will be a str and on Python 3 it will be bytes. It is the parser’s responsibility to deal with any encoding issues.