What does preceding a string literal with "r" mean?<>
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The r means that the string is to be treated as a raw string, which means all escape codes will be ignored.
For an example:
'\n' will be treated as a newline character, while r'\n' will be treated as the characters \ followed by n.
When an 'r' or 'R' prefix is present, a character following a backslash is included in the string without change, and all backslashes are left in the string. For example, the string literal r"\n" consists of two characters: a backslash and a lowercase 'n'. String quotes can be escaped with a backslash, but the backslash remains in the string; for example, r"\"" is a valid string literal consisting of two characters: a backslash and a double quote; r"\" is not a valid string literal (even a raw string cannot end in an odd number of backslashes). Specifically, a raw string cannot end in a single backslash (since the backslash would escape the following quote character). Note also that a single backslash followed by a newline is interpreted as those two characters as part of the string, not as a line continuation.
Source: Python string literals
It means that escapes won’t be translated. For example:
is a string with a backslash followed by the letter n. (Without the r it would be a newline.)
b does stand for byte-string and is used in Python 3, where strings are Unicode by default. In Python 2.x strings were byte-strings by default and you’d use u to indicate Unicode.