Configuring h5py

Library configuration

A few library options are available to change the behavior of the library. You can get a reference to the global library configuration object via the function h5py.get_config(). This object supports the following attributes:

Set to a 2-tuple of strings (real, imag) to control how complex numbers are saved. The default is (‘r’,’i’).
Booleans are saved as HDF5 enums. Set this to a 2-tuple of strings (false, true) to control the names used in the enum. The default is (“FALSE”, “TRUE”).


H5py ships with a custom ipython completer, which provides object introspection and tab completion for h5py objects in an ipython session. For example, if a file contains 3 groups, “foo”, “bar”, and “baz”:

In [4]: f['b<TAB>
bar   baz

In [4]: f['f<TAB>
# Completes to:
In [4]: f['foo'

In [4]: f['foo'].<TAB>
f['foo'].attrs            f['foo'].items            f['foo'].ref
f['foo'].copy             f['foo'].iteritems        f['foo'].require_dataset
f['foo'].create_dataset   f['foo'].iterkeys         f['foo'].require_group
f['foo'].create_group     f['foo'].itervalues       f['foo'].values
f['foo'].file             f['foo'].keys             f['foo'].visit
f['foo'].get              f['foo'].name             f['foo'].visititems
f['foo'].id               f['foo'].parent

The easiest way to enable the custom completer is to do the following in an IPython session:

In  [1]: import h5py

In [2]: h5py.enable_ipython_completer()

It is also possible to configure IPython to enable the completer every time you start a new session. For >=ipython-0.11, “h5py.ipy_completer” just needs to be added to the list of extensions in your ipython config file, for example ~/.config/ipython/profile_default/ (if this file does not exist, you can create it by invoking ipython profile create):

c = get_config()
c.InteractiveShellApp.extensions = ['h5py.ipy_completer']

For <ipython-0.11, the completer can be enabled by adding the following lines to the main() in .ipython/

def main():
    ip.ex('from h5py import ipy_completer')