Basics

The following sections will drive you through the basics of a CherryPy application, introducing some essential concepts.

The one-minute application example

The most basic application you can write with CherryPy involves almost all its core concepts.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
import cherrypy

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def index(self):
        return "Hello World!"

if __name__ == '__main__':
   cherrypy.quickstart(Root(), '/')

First and foremost, for most tasks, you will never need more than a single import statement as demonstrated in line 1.

Before discussing the meat, let’s jump to line 9 which shows, how to host your application with the CherryPy application server and serve it with its builtin HTTP server at the ‘/’ path. All in one single line. Not bad.

Let’s now step back to the actual application. Even though CherryPy does not mandate it, most of the time your applications will be written as Python classes. Methods of those classes will be called by CherryPy to respond to client requests. However, CherryPy needs to be aware that a method can be used that way, we say the method needs to be exposed. This is precisely what the cherrypy.expose() decorator does in line 4.

Save the snippet in a file named myapp.py and run your first CherryPy application:

$ python myapp.py

Then point your browser at http://127.0.0.1:8080. Tada!

Note

CherryPy is a small framework that focuses on one single task: take a HTTP request and locate the most appropriate Python function or method that match the request’s URL. Unlike other well-known frameworks, CherryPy does not provide a built-in support for database access, HTML templating or any other middleware nifty features.

In a nutshell, once CherryPy has found and called an exposed method, it is up to you, as a developer, to provide the tools to implement your application’s logic.

CherryPy takes the opinion that you, the developer, know best.

Warning

The previous example demonstrated the simplicty of the CherryPy interface but, your application will likely contain a few other bits and pieces: static service, more complex structure, database access, etc. This will be developed in the tutorial section.

CherryPy is a minimal framework but not a bare one, it comes with a few basic tools to cover common usages that you would expect.

Hosting one or more applications

A web application needs an HTTP server to be accessed to. CherryPy provides its own, production ready, HTTP server. There are two ways to host an application with it. The simple one and the almost-as-simple one.

Single application

The most straightforward way is to use cherrypy.quickstart() function. It takes at least one argument, the instance of the application to host. Two other settings are optionals. First, the base path at which the application will be accessible from. Second, a config dictionary or file to configure your application.

cherrypy.quickstart(Blog())
cherrypy.quickstart(Blog(), '/blog')
cherrypy.quickstart(Blog(), '/blog', {'/': {'tools.gzip.on': True}})

The first one means that your application will be available at http://hostname:port/ whereas the other two will make your blog application available at http://hostname:port/blog. In addition, the last one provides specific settings for the application.

Note

Notice in the third case how the settings are still relative to the application, not where it is made available at, hence the {‘/’: ... } rather than a {‘/blog’: ... }

Multiple applications

The cherrypy.quickstart() approach is fine for a single application, but lacks the capacity to host several applications with the server. To achieve this, one must use the cherrypy.tree.mount function as follows:

cherrypy.tree.mount(Blog(), '/blog', blog_conf)
cherrypy.tree.mount(Forum(), '/forum', forum_conf)

cherrypy.engine.start()
cherrypy.engine.block()

Essentially, cherrypy.tree.mount takes the same parameters as cherrypy.quickstart(): an application, a hosting path segment and a configuration. The last two lines are simply starting application server.

Important

cherrypy.quickstart() and cherrypy.tree.mount are not exclusive. For instance, the previous lines can be written as:

cherrypy.tree.mount(Blog(), '/blog', blog_conf)
cherrypy.quickstart(Forum(), '/forum', forum_conf)

Note

You can also host foreign WSGI application.

Logging

Logging is an important task in any application. CherryPy will log all incoming requests as well as protocol errors.

To do so, CherryPy manages two loggers:

  • an access one that logs every incoming requests
  • an application/error log that traces errors or other application-level messages

Your application may leverage that second logger by calling cherrypy.log().

cherrypy.log("hello there")

You can also log an exception:

try:
   ...
except:
   cherrypy.log("kaboom!", traceback=True)

Both logs are writing to files identified by the following keys in your configuration:

  • log.access_file for incoming requests using the common log format
  • log.error_file for the other log

See also

Refer to the cherrypy._cplogging module for more details about CherryPy’s logging architecture.

Disable logging

You may be interested in disabling either logs.

To disable file logging, simply set a en empty string to the log.access_file or log.error_file keys in your global configuration.

To disable, console logging, set log.screen to False.

Play along with your other loggers

Your application may obviously already use the logging module to trace application level messages. CherryPy will not interfere with them as long as your loggers are explicitely named. This would work nicely:

import logging
logger = logging.getLogger('myapp.mypackage')
logger.setLevel(logging.INFO)
stream = logging.StreamHandler()
stream.setLevel(logging.INFO)
logger.addHandler(stream)

Configuring

CherryPy comes with a fine-grained configuration mechanism and settings can be set at various levels.

See also

Once you have the reviewed the basics, please refer to the in-depth discussion around configuration.

Global server configuration

To configure the HTTP and application servers, use the cherrypy.config.update() method.

cherrypy.config.update({'server.socket_port': 9090})

The cherrypy.config object is a dictionary and the update method merges the passed dictionary into it.

You can also pass a file instead (assuming a server.conf file):

[global]
server.socket_port: 9090
cherrypy.config.update("server.conf")

Warning

cherrypy.config.update() is not meant to be used to configure the application. It is a common mistake. It is used to configure the server and engine.

Per-application configuration

To configure your application, pass in a dictionary or a file when you associate their application to the server.

cherrypy.quickstart(myapp, '/', {'/': {'tools.gzip.on': True}})

or via a file (called app.conf for instance):

[/]
tools.gzip.on: True
cherrypy.quickstart(myapp, '/', "app.conf")

Although, you can define most of your configuration in a global fashion, it is sometimes convenient to define them where they are applied in the code.

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    @cherrypy.tools.gzip()
    def index(self):
        return "hello world!"

A variant notation to the above:

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def index(self):
        return "hello world!"
    index._cp_config = {'tools.gzip.on': True}

Both methods have the same effect so pick the one that suits your style best.

Additional application settings

You can add settings that are not specific to a request URL and retrieve them from your page handler as follows:

[/]
tools.gzip.on: True

[googleapi]
key = "..."
appid = "..."
class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def index(self):
        google_appid = cherrypy.request.app.config['googleapi']['appid']
        return "hello world!"

cherrypy.quickstart(Root(), '/', "app.conf")

Cookies

CherryPy uses the Cookie module from python and in particular the Cookie.SimpleCookie object type to handle cookies.

  • To send a cookie to a browser, set cherrypy.response.cookie[key] = value.
  • To retrieve a cookie sent by a browser, use cherrypy.request.cookie[key].
  • To delete a cookie (on the client side), you must send the cookie with its expiration time set to 0:
cherrypy.response.cookie[key] = value
cherrypy.response.cookie[key]['expires'] = 0

It’s important to understand that the request cookies are not automatically copied to the response cookies. Clients will send the same cookies on every request, and therefore cherrypy.request.cookie should be populated each time. But the server doesn’t need to send the same cookies with every response; therefore, cherrypy.response.cookie will usually be empty. When you wish to “delete” (expire) a cookie, therefore, you must set cherrypy.response.cookie[key] = value first, and then set its expires attribute to 0.

Extended example:

import cherrypy

class MyCookieApp(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def set(self):
        cookie = cherrypy.response.cookie
        cookie['cookieName'] = 'cookieValue'
        cookie['cookieName']['path'] = '/'
        cookie['cookieName']['max-age'] = 3600
        cookie['cookieName']['version'] = 1
        return "<html><body>Hello, I just sent you a cookie</body></html>"

    @cherrypy.expose
    def read(self):
        cookie = cherrypy.request.cookie
        res = """<html><body>Hi, you sent me %s cookies.<br />
                Here is a list of cookie names/values:<br />""" % len(cookie)
        for name in cookie.keys():
            res += "name: %s, value: %s<br>" % (name, cookie[name].value)
        return res + "</body></html>"

if __name__ == '__main__':
    cherrypy.quickstart(MyCookieApp(), '/cookie')

Using sessions

Sessions are one of the most common mechanism used by developers to identify users and synchronize their activity. By default, CherryPy does not activate sessions because it is not a mandatory feature to have, to enable it simply add the following settings in your configuration:

[/]
tools.sessions.on: True
cherrypy.quickstart(myapp, '/', "app.conf")

Sessions are, by default, stored in RAM so, if you restart your server all of your current sessions will be lost. You can store them in memcached or on the filesystem instead.

Using sessions in your applications is done as follows:

import cherrypy

@cherrypy.expose
def index(self):
    if 'count' not in cherrypy.session:
       cherrypy.session['count'] = 0
    cherrypy.session['count'] += 1

In this snippet, everytime the the index page handler is called, the current user’s session has its ‘count’ key incremented by 1.

CherryPy knows which session to use by inspecting the cookie sent alongside the request. This cookie contains the session identifier used by CherryPy to load the user’s session from the storage.

See also

Refer to the cherrypy.lib.sessions module for more details about the session interface and implementation. Notably you will learn about sessions expiration.

Filesystem backend

Using a filesystem is a simple to not lose your sessions between reboots. Each session is saved in its own file within the given directory.

[/]
tools.sessions.on: True
tools.sessions.storage_type = "file"
tools.sessions.storage_path = "/some/directorys"

Memcached backend

Memcached is a popular key-store on top of your RAM, it is distributed and a good choice if you want to share sessions outside of the process running CherryPy.

[/]
tools.sessions.on: True
tools.sessions.storage_type = "memcached"

Static content serving

CherryPy can serve your static content such as images, javascript and CSS resources, etc.

Note

CherryPy uses the mimetypes module to determine the best content-type to serve a particular resource. If the choice is not valid, you can simply set more media-types as follows:

import mimetypes
mimetypes.types_map['.csv'] = 'text/csv'

Serving a single file

You can serve a single file as follows:

[/style.css]
tools.staticfile.on = True
tools.staticfile.filename = "/home/site/style.css"

CherryPy will automatically respond to URLs such as http://hostname/style.css.

Serving a whole directory

Serving a whole directory is similar to a single file:

[/static]
tools.staticdir.on = True
tools.staticdir.dir = "/home/site/static"

Assuming you have a file at static/js/my.js, CherryPy will automatically respond to URLs such as http://hostname/static/js/my.js.

Note

CherryPy always requires the absolute path to the files or directories it will serve. If you have several static sections to configure but located in the same root directory, you can use the following shortcut:

[/]
tools.staticdir.root = "/home/site"

[/static]
tools.staticdir.on = True
tools.staticdir.dir = "static"

Allow files downloading

Using "application/x-download" response content-type, you can tell a browser that a resource should be downloaded onto the user’s machine rather than displayed.

You could for instance write a page handler as follows:

from cherrypy.lib.static import serve_file

@cherrypy.expose
def download(self, filepath):
    return serve_file(filepath, "application/x-download", "attachment")

Assuming the filepath is a valid path on your machine, the response would be considered as a downloadable content by the browser.

Warning

The above page handler is a security risk on its own since any file of the server could be accessed (if the user running the server had permissions on them).

Dealing with JSON

CherryPy has built-in support for JSON encoding and decoding of the request and/or response.

Decoding request

To automatically decode the content of a request using JSON:

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    @cherrypy.tools.json_in()
    def index(self):
        data = cherrypy.request.json

The json attribute attached to the request contains the decoded content.

Encoding response

To automatically encode the content of a response using JSON:

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    @cherrypy.tools.json_out()
    def index(self):
        return {'key': 'value'}

CherryPy will encode any content returned by your page handler using JSON. Not all type of objects may natively be encoded.

Authentication

CherryPy provides support for two very simple authentication mechanisms, both described in RFC 2617: Basic and Digest. They are most commonly known to trigger a browser’s popup asking users their name and password.

Basic

Basic authentication is the simplest form of authentication however it is not a secure one as the user’s credentials are embedded into the request. We advise against using it unless you are running on SSL or within a closed network.

from cherrypy.lib import auth_basic

USERS = {'jon': 'secret'}

def validate_password(username, password):
    if username in USERS and USERS[username] == password:
       return True
    return False

conf = {
   '/protected/area': {
       'tools.auth_basic.on': True,
       'tools.auth_basic.realm': 'localhost',
       'tools.auth_basic.checkpassword': validate_password
    }
}

cherrypy.quickstart(myapp, '/', conf)

Simply put, you have to provide a function that will be called by CherryPy passing the username and password decoded from the request.

The function can read its data from any source it has to: a file, a database, memory, etc.

Digest

Digest authentication differs by the fact the credentials are not carried on by the request so it’s a little more secure than basic.

CherryPy’s digest support has a similar interface to the basic one explained above.

from cherrypy.lib import auth_digest

USERS = {'jon': 'secret'}

conf = {
   '/protected/area': {
        'tools.auth_digest.on': True,
        'tools.auth_digest.realm': 'localhost',
        'tools.auth_digest.get_ha1': auth_digest.get_ha1_dict_plain(USERS),
        'tools.auth_digest.key': 'a565c27146791cfb'
   }
}

cherrypy.quickstart(myapp, '/', conf)

Favicon

CherryPy serves its own sweet red cherrypy as the default favicon using the static file tool. You can serve your own favicon as follows:

import cherrypy

class HelloWorld(object):
   @cherrypy.expose
   def index(self):
       return "Hello World!"

if __name__ == '__main__':
    cherrypy.quickstart(HelloWorld(), '/',
        {
            '/favicon.ico':
            {
                'tools.staticfile.on': True,
                'tools.staticfile.filename:' '/path/to/myfavicon.ico'
            }
        }
    )

Please refer to the static serving section for more details.

You can also use a file to configure it:

[/favicon.ico]
tools.staticfile.on: True
tools.staticfile.filename: "/path/to/myfavicon.ico"
import cherrypy

class HelloWorld(object):
   @cherrypy.expose
   def index(self):
       return "Hello World!"

if __name__ == '__main__':
    cherrypy.quickstart(HelloWorld(), '/', app.conf)