Madison CS 3-4: Password generator and checker

In this project, you’ll write two programs: a password generator and a password checker.

Password Generator

Write a program that prints a randomly generated password like “Fj3io19aA” to the screen and then exits. Every time you run the program, it’ll print out a different password, like this:

You already know that you can print something to the screen by writing code like print("Hello there!"), but we’ll need to do some thinking if we want to figure out how to actually generate a password from scratch. I’ll give you a few useful bits of code that might come in handy.

Here’s how to use the choice() function from the random library to choose a random lower-case letter:

import random

lowercase_letters = 'abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz'
random_letter = random.choice(lowercase_letters)


Interactive Snippets

The code snippet above is interactive, which means:

  1. You can re-run it by clicking on it and then pressing Ctrl+Enter (hold down the Control key, then press the Enter key). Try doing that now. Notice that it prints out a different letter almost every time you run it!
  2. You can change that snippet’s Python code yourself, or even write your own code in there. Try changing it so that it says lowercase_letters = 'ABCDE' and see what happens. (NOTE: calling the variable lowercase_letters doesn’t automatically force it to hold only lowercase letters!) Press Ctrl+Enter a few more times while you’re at it.

When we give you assignments in this class, they’ll often have interactive code snippets like these because you can learn a lot by playing around with the example code yourself instead of just reading it. You should mess around with every one of these code snippets yourself; it makes the whole experience less intimidating, and it’s really fun!

Back to the assignment!

OK, so we know how to pick a random lowercase letter. You can also use the same approach in order to pick a random uppercase letter, or number, or symbol.

Another useful thing to remember is that you can add strings together (we call this “concatenating” them) by using the + sign:

a_lowercase_letter = "j"
an_uppercase_letter = "N"
a_number = "6"

print(a_lowercase_letter + an_uppercase_letter + a_number)

Remember that you can check the length of a string by calling the len() function:


Finally, here’s how to use the sample() function from the random library to shuffle a string:

import random

my_name = 'JR Heard'
shuffled_name = ''.join(random.sample(my_name, len(my_name)))


Try changing my_name to be your name so you’re sure that this code works on your name too, and don’t forget to use Ctrl+Enter to re-execute the snippet a bunch of times until you’re convinced it’s different each time.

There’s some weird stuff going on in that snippet - what’s that ''.join() call all about, for instance? - but I’m not going to explain it just yet, we’ll cover it in a later assignment. For now, you can just copy-paste that line of code into your program if you’d like to use it. In later projects, you won’t be allowed to copy-paste code you don’t understand, so be sure to cherish this moment while it lasts.

Now you have everything you’ll need in order to write a password generator!

Your generator should generate passwords that meet the PPS standard: they should be at least 8 characters long, and they should include at least 3 of these 4 categories: number, uppercase letter, lowercase letter, symbol. (A “symbol” is one of these: !@#$%^&*()-_=+,.)

Password Strength Checker

Write a program that asks the user for a password and prints out "GOOD" if it meets the PPS standard mentioned above, or "BAD" if the password does not meet the PPS standard. Remember that you can use input() to ask the user for a password.

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, passwords should not contain your username or your student ID. At the start of your program, ask the user for their username and student ID so that you can check to make sure that those things aren’t in their password.

When it’s done, your password checker should behave just like this:

In order to check that a password meets the PPS criteria, you’ll want to loop over each character of the password and write some code that keeps track of whether it has any lowercase letters, uppercase letters, symbols, or numbers. For instance, here’s a bit of code that checks to see how many times the letter "z" is in the word "Pizza":

word = "Pizza"
number_of_zs = 0

for letter in word:
    if letter == 'z':
	    number_of_zs = number_of_zs + 1


The above snippet teaches you how to loop over every character of a string — 'P', 'i', 'z', 'z', then 'a' — and do something based on the value of that character. Remember, though, that we don’t care about how many uppercase letters are in a password; we just care about whether or not there are any.

You can check to see if one string is in another string by using Python’s in operator, like this:

# `in` works for single letters like 'z' and 'f'...
print('z' in 'Pizza')
print('f' in 'Pizza')

# ...and also for longer strings like 'llo' and 'potatoes'.
print('llo' in 'Hello')
print('potatoes' in 'Hello')

Notice that you get a result of True or False, so you could use this code as a condition in an if statement.

Disallowing Student Info In Passwords

If my username is jrheard and my student ID is 12345, then per the rules mentioned above, these are bad passwords:

  • CarlsjRHeard!
  • Password12345

Here’s one slightly tricky thing about this part of the project: my username is "jrheard", and the password "CarlsjRHeard!" is invalid, but Python strings are case sensitive:

print("jrheard" == "jRHeard")

Your password checker should be able to tell if a password contains your username, even if the password’s capitalization is all funky like that. One way to handle this problem is to call a string’s .lower() or .upper() method, like this:


Debugging Tip

As you’re working on your program, you might find it useful to add some extra print() calls that print out what programmers call “debug information” to help you understand what your program’s actually doing. For instance:

It’s OK if you leave those print() calls in there, you don’t need to remove them before submitting your project. Just be sure that the last line of your checker’s output says the word GOOD or the word BAD, with nothing else on that line, like you see in the example above.

That should be everything you need to get started. Good luck!

Submitting your project

Submit two files: and

On the first line of each of those two files, write a comment with your name on it, like this:

# JR Heard

Remember to follow this class’s style guide.

The part about descriptive variable names is really important! For instance:

  • n is a bad variable name, username is a good one.
  • ns is a bad variable name, number_of_symbols is a good one.