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Remote Procedure Call server support for Zope[2]

Project description

This package implements a middleware which allows to provide an internet service (a set of functions made available via the internet) over multiple rpc protocols with a common (protocol independent) service implementation.

The service functions can be called both via “GET” as well as “POST” requests. “GET” requests are supported to leverage HTTP caching and to facilitate debugging. To get the types right, “GET” requests must use the ZPublisher type conversion support (or some “GET” support defined by the rpc protocol itself (as e.g. by the json-rpc protocol)).

The rpc protocol can be selected via url components (other means are implementable as well but not directly supported). Available protocols are selectable via deployment configuration.

This package supports the protocols


a result format based on Python’s repr – mainly for testing purposes,


a json based rpc protocol, defined by

This requires the json module of Python 2.6 (separately installed, if necessary)


the rpc protocol based on Python’s xmlrpc module.

This requires the PyPI package dm.reuse and (probably) dm.zopepatches.xmlrpc (to control/deactivate Zope’s builtin xmlrpc support).

Forthcoming subpackages will support soap based protocols for services described by WSDL.


At the package’s core is a protocol handler. Its task is to handle incoming requests for a specific rpc protocol. To prepare for the protocol specific serialization of the result, it installs a new response object. This will handle the result and potential exceptions in a protocol specific way. In addition, the handler parses a potential request body and updates the ZPublisher argument information accordingly. Thereafter, “GET” and “POST” requests are (almost) identical.

Usually, the protocol handlers for the various protocols are registered in a Zope Toolkit namespace. Protocol selection then can use an url component of the form ++namespace++protocol.

The protocol handlers in this package derive from a generic (protocol and configuration independent) class and delegate protocol and configuration specific operations to a protocol specific mashaller, which also holds the configuration. The marshaller is either specified via the handler’s marshaller attribute or obtained by adaptation of the handler to the .interfaces.IMarshaller interface. The function .handler.handlerfactory_from_marshaller facilitates the definition of a handler factory which then can be used in the definition of an adapter. As a consequence, a specially configured protocol handler is usually set up by instantiating an appropriately configured marshaller, passing this marshaller to handlerfactory_from_marshaller and registering the resulting protocol handler factory as an adapter (for context and request).

The rpc protocols usually support only a limited set of types. The potentially richer type world used by the service results need to be mapped to the restricted type set. In addition, the types delivered by the protocol modules’ deserialization differ. Using a standardized set of types toward the service facilitates its implementation. Therefore, the architecture contains an IDataAdapter component. It has two methods normalize_in and normalize_out to normalize the types used in incoming or outgoing values, respectively. The marshallers look it up via adaptation to .interfaces.IDataAdapter. The implemented marshallers derive from .adapter.StandardDataAdapter. It normalizes incoming types to bool, int, float, binary, a text type (either str or unicode), a date type (either or Zope’s DateTime.DateTime), a datetime type (either datetime.datetime or Zope’s DateTime.DateTime) and lists and structure wrappers of normalized types. The structure wrappers support both the mapping api as well as attribute access; they can be read and written by untrusted code. Options control which text, date and datetime types are used (see below). Outgoing types are normalized to bool, int, float, binary, unicode, date, datetime and lists/dictionaries of normalized values. Instance objects with an items method are normalized to the dicts of (normalized) items; instance objects with an __iter__ method are normalized as the list of (normalized) iterated values; other instance objects are normalized by normalizing their __dict__ omitting attributes starting with _ (priviate attributes), an _rpc_type attribute may be added to convey the original type. This has the drawback that default (class level defined) attributes are not taken into account. You can find details about the standard data adapter in adapter.txt in the subdirectory tests.

Text handling is difficult with rpc protocols. With Python 2.x, str is still often used to represent both text and binary data while many rpc protocols make a strict distinction between text and binary data. Therefore, the package defines a special type binary to clearly mark binary data. binary is derived from str and can (usually) be used whereever str is usable (there are a few exceptions). An option for the standard data adapter specifies whether the service uses str to represent text. In this case, the protocol text type is mapped to str (and vice versa) using an encoding specified via an additional option. Some rpc protocols (e.g. json) do not support a binary type. In this case, the module assumes that binary data is coded by the first 256 unicode codepoints. The binary type implements this assumption.

In the Zope [2] world, dates and datetimes pose another ambiguitiy. Traditionally, Zope uses its DateTime.DateTime class to represent dates and datetimes. But newer applications may have switched to Python’s new date and datetime types. The standard data adapter uses Python’s types to represent dates and times externally (toward the protocol) and has an option whether it should convert them to Zope’s DateTime internally (toward the service implementation).


You can find simple examples in tests.example and tests.xmlrpc. example demonstrates example zcml registrations to support jsonrpc and reprrpc, xmlrpc does so for the xmlrpc protocol.

The package uses (mostly) the Zope Toolkit component architecture to combine the various architectural components and integrate the package into an application. This provides for great flexibility. Individual components can be easily replaced by application specific adaptations. Up to now, there are no documentation or specific examples. You will need to look at the component sources to find out the possibilities.


The package expects to be used inside a Zope [2] environment. However, to facilitate use in a Zope below version 2.12 (the first eggified Zope 2 version), it does not specify this dependency.

In a Zope below 2.12, it might be necessary to set up some so called fake-eggs (supported by the buildout recipe plone.recipe.plone2instance) or egg links, e.g. for zope.schema, and zope.interface, such that these eggs are found inside the Zope codetree.

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