[Web-SIG] Standardized configuration
chrism at plope.com
Tue Jul 19 08:39:11 CEST 2005
On Mon, 2005-07-18 at 22:49 -0500, Ian Bicking wrote:
> In addition to the examples I gave in response to Graham, I wrote a
> document on this a while ago:
> The hard part about this is configuration; it's easy to configure a
> non-branching chain of middleware. Once it branches the configuration
> becomes hard (like programming-hard; which isn't *hard*, but it quickly
> stops feeling like configuration).
Yep. I think I'm getting it. For example, I see that Paste's URLParser
seems to *construct* applications if they don't already exist based on
the URL. And I assume that these applications could themselves be
middleware. I don't think that is configurable declaratively if you
want to decide which app to use based on arbitrary request parameters.
But if we already had the config for each app "instance" that URLParser
wanted to consult laying around as files on disk, wouldn't it be just as
easy to construct these app objects "eagerly" at startup time? Then you
URLParser could choose an already-configured app based on some sort of
configuration file in the URLParser component itself. The "apps"
themselves may be pipelines, too, I realize that, but that is still
configurable without coding.
Maybe there'd be some concern about needing to stop the process in order
to add new applications. That's a use case I hadn't really considered.
I suspect this could be done with a signal handler, though, which could
tell the URLParser to reload its config file instead of potentially
locating a and creating a new application within every request.
This would make URLParser a kind of "decision" middleware, but it would
choose from a static set of existing applications (or pipelines) for the
lifetime of the process as opposed to constructing them lazily.
> > OTOH, I'm not sure that I want my framework to "find" an app for me.
> > I'd like to be able to define pipelines that include my app, but I'd
> > typically just want to statically declare it as the end point of a
> > pipeline composed of service middleware. I should look at Paste a
> > little more to see if it has the same philosophy or if I'm
> > misunderstanding you.
> Mostly I wanted to avoid lots of magical incantations for the simple
> case. If you are used to Webware, well it has a very straight-forward
> way of finding your application -- you give it a directory name. If
> Quixote or CherryPy, you give it a root object. Maybe Zope would take a
> ZEO connection string, and so on.
I think I understand now.
In general, I think I'd rather create "instance" locations of WSGI
applications (which would essentially consist of a config file on disk
plus any state info required by the app), configure and construct Python
objects out of those instances eagerly at "startup time" and just choose
between already-constructed apps if in "decision middleware" that has
its own declarative configuration if decisions need to be made about
which app to use.
This is mostly because I want the configuration info to live within the
application/middleware instance and have some other "starter" import
those configurations from application/middleware instance locations on
the filesystem. The "starter" would construct required instances as
Python objects, and chain them together arbitrarily based on some other
"pipeline configuration" file that lives with the "starter". The first
part of that (construct required instances) is described in a post I
made to this list yesterday.
This is probably because I'd like there to be one well-understood way to
declaratively configure pipelines as opposed to each piece of middleware
potentially needing to manage app construction and having its own
configuration to do so.
I don't know if this is reasonable for simpler requirements. This is
more of a "formal deployment spec" idea and of course is likely flawed
in some subtle way I don't understand yet.
> > I'm pretty sure you're not advocating it, but in case you are, I'm not
> > sure it adds as much value as it removes to be able to have a "dynamic"
> > middleware chain whereby new middleware elements can be added "on the
> > fly" to a pipeline after a request has begun. That is *very* "late
> > binding" to me and it's impossible to configure declaratively.
> I'm comfortable with a little of both. I don't even know *how* I'd stop
> dynamic middleware. For instance, one of the methods I added to Wareweb
> recently allows any servlet to forward to any WSGI application; but from
> the outside the servlet looks like a normal WSGI application just like
It's obviously fine if applications themselves want to do this. I'm not
sure that it would be possible to create a "deployment spec" that
canonized *how* to do it because as you mentioned it's not really a
configuration task, it's a programming task.
> > I agree! I'm a bit confused because one of the canonical examples of
> > how WSGI middleware is useful seems to be the example of implementing a
> > framework-agnostic sessioning service. And for that sessioning service
> > to be useful, your application has to be able to depend on its
> > availability so it can't be "oblivious".
> This is where I'd like additional (incrementally agreed upon) standards.
> For instance, a standard for the interface of 'webapp01.session'.
> It's a requirement, certainly, but the requirement is merely "there must
> be a webapp01-compliant session installed".
Yes... I think the best way to describe this sort of thing is through
interfaces (at least notional, documented ones, if not formal ones that
can be introspected at runtime). But that will need to be fleshed out
on a service-by-service basis, obviously.
FWIW, I'm also finding myself agreeing with Phillip's idea of allowing
applications to have a context object to which can help them find
services, as opposed to implementing each service entirely as
Instead of obtaining the sessioning service via
"environ['webapp01.session']" in an application's __call__ , you might
do "self.context.get_service('session')"... or maybe even
"environ['services'].get_service('session')". The latter would be
easier to add because we'd be using an existing PEP 333 protocol. We'd
consume a single key within the environ namespace, but there would need
to be no change to the WSGI spec.
This would be pretty straightforward and a separate services framework
could be implemented outside WSGI entirely perhaps taking some cues from
PEAK and/or Zope 3 ( or even [gasp] *code!*, god knows this problem has
already been solved many times over ;-) -- for implementing service
registration and lookup. It could form the basis for a "WSGI services"
spec without muddying the waters for PEP 333.
That said, if you're not interested in that because you think
implementing services as middleware is "good enough" and you'd rather
not implement another framework, I'd totally understand that. At that
point I probably wouldn't be interested either because you're the
defacto champion of WSGI middleware as a lingua franca and the only
reason to do any of this is for the sake of collaboration and code
sharing. But I do think it would be cleaner.
Anyway, lots of good ideas and tips in your further responses, thanks,
but for the sake of brevity and keeping the thread somewhat on topic, I
won't respond to them.
More information about the Web-SIG