Decoding Base64 Data in Python


To keep our data safe and secure, encoding vulnerable information such as credentials, and API keys is the way to go. But sometimes while writing code, we have to know how to decode sensitive information for producing the proper output.

Encoding refers to the process of converting information into a set of specialized characters for transmission via computer systems. Similarly, decoding refers to the process of transforming the specialized format of characters into its original format.

There are a set of rules that one must follow for encoding and decoding information. These are referred to as the different methods of encoding/decoding such as Unicode encoding, Base64 encoding, ASCII encoding, hex encoding etc. Besides computer systems, encoding and decoding information has existed in real world communications. One such example is the use of Morse Code.

Encoding and decoding text is also used in natural language processing(NLP) to train neural networks.

brief history of the encoding/decoding model

The encoding/decoding model of communication was developed by Stuart Hall in 1973, which provided a theoretical approach to how media messages were produced, disseminated and interpreted.

The encoding of a message is how a piece of information is produced. It is a sequence of codes with hidden meanings. To create it, the sender must be aware of sets of rules that are to be followed for the data to be comprehensible to the receiver.

In the decode section of the communication system, the message is to be interpreted. It is the mechanism in which a set of characters are translated into a comprehensible form for the receiver.

In computer networks, encoders and decoders are heavily used when transferring data from one system to another. Logic gates such as the “OR” gate can be used to demonstrate the process of encoding and decoding information.

In python, the most popular methods of encoding data is in the “utf-8” or the “ascii” format. By default, python uses “utf-8” encoding. Data can be encrypted in python using the encode() method.

The Pros and Cons of Encode & Decode

The advantages of encoding/decoding data are:

  • It helps in optimizing storage.
  • It speeds up the data entry process in computer systems.
  • It hides sensitive information so that attackers and malicious software can’t retrieve it.
  • It also helps in increasing the accuracy of data entry.
  • Prevents corruption of text only processed data.

Some of the disadvantages of the encode/decode process are:

  • Can result in obscuring the meaning of data.
  • Can result in depleting the data.
Encodedecode Pros And Cons
Encode & decode: Pros And Cons

Similar: How to Write an Encryption Program in Python?

Understanding the Base64 System

The base64 system is a form of encoding in which bytes contain text or data into ASCII characters. Each character in the base64 system represents 6 bits of data. The characters in are supported in the base64 system are:

  • The “+” and “/” symbols for new lines in the text or binary data.
  • All of the 26 uppercase alphabets in English.
  • All of the 26 lowercase alphabets in English.
  • and the 10 numbers from 0-9.

We can easily transform data into the base64 system in the following manner:

  • First and foremost, we need to find the corresponding ASCII value of the original characters of the text.
  • Next, we have to calculate the 8 bit binary value for the above mentioned ASCII values.
  • Now, we have to regroup the digits from the second step into cohorts of 6 since each character in the base64 system represents 6bits of data.
  • Then, we will convert the grouped data into their decimal values(that is, base 10).
  • Lastly, we will have to match the base64 values with respect to the decimal values using the base64 encoding chart .

Decoding Base64 Data in Python

To decode Base64 data in Python, you can use the base64 module to access the necessary functions. First, import the base64 module, and create a variable containing the Base64 encoded string. Use the ‘encode()’ function to convert the string into ASCII characters, and then use ‘base64.b64decode()’ to convert the ASCII characters into bytes. Finally, use the ‘decode()’ function to convert the bytes into the original format. The result is the decoded data.

In python, a code in the base64 system must be converted into ASCII characters or bytes before converting it into alphabets in the English lexicon. We will use both the encode() function to convert the base64 characters into Unicode characters and then use the decode() function to turn those ASCII characters into English letters. These functions are available in python via the base64 module.

# importing the module
import base64

# assigning our sample to a variable
convertsample = "QXNrUHl0aG9uLmNvbSBpcyB0aGUgYmVzdCE="
# converting the base64 code into ascii characters
convertbytes = convertsample.encode("ascii")
# converting into bytes from base64 system
convertedbytes = base64.b64decode(convertbytes)
# decoding the ASCII characters into alphabets
decodedsample = convertedbytes.decode("ascii")
# displaying the result
print(f"The string after decoding is: {decodedsample}")

The output is:

The string after decoding is: is the best!
Decoding BASE64 Characters To Text
Base64 Character Decoding in Text Format

Suggested: Introduction to Python Modules.


Well, now you know the basics of encoding and decoding in Python, specifically working with Base64. Mastering these concepts is crucial for securing data transfer and storage in your applications. With Python’s built-in base64 module, encrypting and decrypting sensitive information has never been easier. Keep exploring and happy coding!