On the Morepath


Posted: 2013-10-31 16:36   |   Source   |  More posts about python morepath reg planetpython zope pyramid

Introduction

For a while now I've been working on Morepath. I thought I'd say a bit about it here.

Morepath is a Python web micro-framework with super powers. It looks much like your average Python micro-framework, but it packs some seriously power beneath the hood.

Web micro-framework battle wiki!

Let's start with sample code, a wiki implementation:

https://github.com/morepath/morepath_wiki/blob/master/mpwiki/wiki.py

This code is based on an example devised by Richard Jones for his web micro-framework battle presentation. When I asked him, he kindly shared his codebase with implementations for various micro-frameworks.

The Morepath wiki code uses the reusable module storage.py that Richard created which implements the wiki backend and page rendering. This is actually a little bit unfortunate for Morepath, as storage.py doesn't expose an object oriented API. There is no wiki Page class for instance, so I had to come up with a simple one myself, as Morepath is very model-driven. Perhaps I'll refactor storage.py in the future so I can better show off how Morepath can empower your models.

Configuration

Morepath at first sight looks quite a bit like a Flask application. You create an application object. You then use methods on the application object as decorators to configure it.

But there is a significant difference with Flask (or many other web frameworks, including Django) in that loading the configuration is not a import-time side-effect, but an explict step. Morepath is like Zope and Pyramid in this respect. The Pyramid documentation has an extensive section explaining why this is a good thing.

Routing to Models

Morepath's routing is different from any routing web framework I've encountered before. Morepath routes to models, not to views. In the wiki example the route to the wiki page model is done like this:

@app.model(model=Page, path='{name}',
           variables=lambda model: {'name': model.name})
def get_page(name):
    if not storage.wikiname_re.match(name):
        return None
    return Page(name)

This says that paths like /foo go to a Page object with the name foo. If no such wiki page exists, we return None, which will result in a 404 error.

Views

The routing code where the model is looked up is completely separate from presentation. That's done in the view. Here's the default view for Page (i.e. /FrontPage):

@app.html(model=Page)
def display(request, model):
    return wiki.render_page(model.name)

And here is the edit view (i.e. /FrontPage/edit):

@app.html(model=Page, name='edit', request_method='GET')
def edit_form(request, model):
    return wiki.render_edit_form(model.name)

Reuse and Flexibility

Morepath is powered by the generic function library Reg. This provides a general mechanism for composing, extending and overriding behavior.

In the wiki example, the Page model has a default display view, and edit and history views. If you were to create a subclass from Page called DiscussionPage, instances of DiscussionPage would automatically share these views. But you can specialize: if you want your DiscussionPage model to have a special way to display itself but still share edit and history, this is what you'd do:

@app.html(model=DiscussionPage)
def discussion_display(request, model):
    return "<h2>A different discussion page!</h2>"

With Morepath, you can bundle a set of behaviors such as views (and routes) in a custom framework application, and then let others reuse it in their own applications. But if in the same run-time you want to have another application that doesn't share any of this behavior, Morepath lets you do this too.

That's a lot of power in a small package. It's in fact a condensation of 15 years of my experience with Zope packed together into a micro-framework.

Development Status

I'm actively developing Morepath and looking for feedback. Documentation is very scarce right now, but that situation won't continue for long.

The Morepath code is here:

https://github.com/morepath/morepath

At PyCon DE earlier this month I gave a keynote speech where I go into some of the creative process and thinking behind Morepath. If you have more than an hour to spare, you can watch it.

There's an IRC channel, #morepath on freenode. Hope to see you there!

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