[Web-SIG] WSGI 2.0

Phillip J. Eby pje at telecommunity.com
Fri Mar 30 19:06:23 CEST 2007

At 11:30 PM 3/29/2007 -0500, Ian Bicking wrote:
>Phillip J. Eby wrote:
>>At 07:56 PM 3/29/2007 -0500, Ian Bicking wrote:
>>>Do we want to discuss WSGI 2.0?  I added a wiki page here to list
>>>anything anyone wants to discuss for 2.0: http://wsgi.org/wsgi/WSGI_2.0
>>>I've listed the things I can remember, and copying here:
>>>start_response and write
>>>We could remove ``start_response`` and the writer that it implies.  This
>>>would lead to a signature like::
>>>      def app(environ):
>>>          return '200 OK', [('Content-type', 'text/plain')], ['Hello world']
>>>That is, return a three-tuple of (status, headers, app_iter).
>>>It's relatively simple to provide adapters to and from this signature to
>>>the WSGI 1.0 signature.
>>I think we also want to have a value you can yield from the app_iter to 
>>explicitly request that the buffer be flushed, and that we should reopen 
>>the discussion about values to be yielded to communicate with async 
>>servers, indicating that the iterator should be paused pending input or 
>>some other operation.
>(this should probably be opened as a separate item from the signature 
>change, as I don't think it relates much to that)
>I'd rather not introduce new objects, since we don't have any new objects 
>yet.  None is an obvious object, but it's vague in this context.  To me it 
>feels more like a pause than a flush.  Flush really means *do* something, 
>and None feels like the no-op, which is more like a pause.
>I've become interested in using WSGI middleware as an HTTP translating 
>proxy, so the async opportunities are of more interest to me now.  In part 
>just the app_iter non-thread-affinity change would be helpful, I 
>think.  Dealing with large request bodies is harder, I think, because 
>those would have to be processed before the WSGI app returned.  But that's 
>less concerning to me.
>It seems like if yielding None from an app_iter meant "put me at the back 
>of the queue" that would be a fairly simple and effective way of handling 
>async for large (or slow) response bodies.  This wouldn't really work for 
>the Twisted stuff where you keep a response open and trickle out data 
>based on server-side events (because you can't control when you get back 
>to the beginning of the queue), but otherwise it seems pretty good.  I 
>suppose full control could be allowed if you could do something like 
>return an object that could be part of the event loop somehow.  If we had 
>some standard async-wrapping-key of some sort, perhaps.  For example (I 
>say with no real knowledge of Deferred):
>environ['wsgi.async_callback'] = EventMatcher
># in the app:
>yield environ['wsgi.async_callback'](some_event)
># in the server:
>for item in app_iter:
>     if isinstance(item, EventMatcher):
>         # queue up the app_iter, leaving it paused until something
>         # matching that event happens

I was thinking of something a bit simpler; the environ key would be an 
object that, when called, tells the server that it's okay to resume 
iteration attempts on the application.  A sort of "put me back on the queue 
for iteration" call.  The callback would have to be safe to call from any 
thread at any time, and must not re-enter anything, just re-enable iteration.

>I feel somehow that it could be useful for intermediaries to be able to 
>filter out this callback, and so a documented key (or keys) would be 
>good.  But I can't quite place why I'd want to do that.  Well, except that 
>any intermediary would have to be able to detect this kind of object and 
>pass it back up.  So maybe instead of filtering it out of the environ, 
>there needs to be some easy test that can be applied.

My thought is that flow control could be done with tuples whose first 
element is a number, and whose other elements are arguments.

Why a number and not a string?  So that if you forget to make it a tuple, 
it won't be sent as part of the output stream; it'll be detected as an 
error.  Also, numbers are harder to assign and keep track of, and we want 
to have a very small set of strictly-defined flow control operations: pause 
(aka "nothing to report yet"), flush, and perhaps "wait for input".

Alternatively, we could just go with numbers and not worry about tuples at 
all.  I don't actually know of anything that needs an argument.

>>Ideally, this should be done in a way that's easy for middleware to 
>>handle; a flush signal should be handled by the middleware *and* passed 
>>up the chain, while any other async signals would be passed directly up 
>>the chain (unless it's something like "pause for input" and the 
>>middleware controls the input).
>>If we do this right, it should be easier to write middleware that works 
>>correctly with respect to buffering, since the issues of flushing and 
>>pausing now become explicit rather than implicit.  (This should make it 
>>easier to teach/learn as well.)
>In terms of buffering, I can't think of many cases where it would 
>matter.  Either the middleware passes back the response with no changes, 
>or it needs to consume the entire response body (and probably headers and 
>maybe status) to do whatever transformation it needs to do.
>Things like pauses and async signals would ideally be passed upstream, but 
>flushes and content would all be consumed by the middleware.

I can't think of any condition where middleware would *not* pass all of 
these up to its caller.  In the case of a "flush", it needs to first yield 
any buffered output, but it *must* still yield the flush.

For example, if you're doing server push, then the app should yield a flush 
prior to each new content boundary.  If the middleware is doing compression 
or some such, then it needs to restart encoding after each content 
boundary, as well as flush the prior encoded output.

>>>It's not clear if the app_iter must be used in the same thread as the
>>>application.  Since the application is blocking, presumably *it* must be
>>>run all in one thread.  This should be more explicitly documented.
>>Definitely.  I think that we should not require thread affinity between 
>>the application and the app_iter -- my feeling at this point is that 
>>actual yielding is an edge case with respect to most WSGI apps.  The 
>>common case WSGI application should be just returning a list or tuple 
>>with a single string in it, and not doing any complex iteration.
>>Allowing the server more flexibility here is probably the better choice.
>>Indeed, I'm not sure we should require thread affinity across invocations 
>>of app_iter.next().
>It seems unlikely there'd be a need to move it between threads,

In the case of Twisted, the easiest way to run possibly-blocking app code 
would be "deferToThread(app_iter.next)", and the code could end up running 
in any of several pooled threads, each time.  So, really, the nominal case 
for Twisted is the one where you'd want there to be no need for affinity 
across iterations.

>but then it doesn't seem like there's much need for the application to 
>have it all called in one thread either (i.e., if you move threads once, 
>moving threads again shouldn't be a problem).
>Ian Bicking | ianb at colorstudy.com | http://blog.ianbicking.org
>             | Write code, do good | http://topp.openplans.org/careers

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