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Python implementation of the Circuit Breaker pattern

Project description

PyBreaker is a Python implementation of the Circuit Breaker pattern, described in Michael T. Nygard’s book Release It!.

In Nygard’s words, “circuit breakers exists to allow one subsystem to fail without destroying the entire system. This is done by wrapping dangerous operations (typically integration points) with a component that can circumvent calls when the system is not healthy”.


  • Configurable list of excluded exceptions (e.g. business exceptions)

  • Configurable failure threshold and reset timeout

  • Callback functions for state changes and failed/succeeded calls

  • Functions and properties for easy monitoring and management

  • Thread-safe


  • Python 2.6+ (or Python 3.0+)


Run the following command line to download the latest stable version of PyBreaker from PyPI:

$ easy_install -U pybreaker

If you are a Git user, you might want to download the current development version:

$ git clone git://
$ cd pybreaker
$ python test
$ python install


The first step is to create an instance of CircuitBreaker for each integration point:

import pybreaker
db_breaker = pybreaker.CircuitBreaker()

To allow better customization while keeping the code self contained, it’s recommended to create subclasses of CircuitBreaker for each kind of integration point:

import pybreaker

class DBCircuitBreaker(pybreaker.CircuitBreaker):
    def on_state_change(self, old_state, new_state):
        "Called when the circuit breaker state changes."
    def on_failure(self, exc):
        "Called when a function invocation raises a system error."
    def on_success(self):
        "Called when a function invocation succeeds."

db_breaker = DBCircuitBreaker()

These objects should live globally inside the application scope.

Let’s say you want to use a circuit breaker on a function that updates a row in the customer database table:

def update_customer(cust):
    # Do stuff here...

# Will trigger the circuit breaker
updated_customer = update_customer(my_customer)

Or if you don’t want to use the decorator syntax:

def update_customer(cust):
    # Do stuff here...

# Will trigger the circuit breaker
updated_customer =, my_customer)

What Does a Circuit Breaker Do?

According to the default parameters, the circuit breaker db_breaker will automatically open the circuit after 5 consecutive failures in update_customer.

When the circuit is open, all calls to update_customer will fail immediately (raising CircuitBreakerError) without any attempt to execute the real operation.

After 60 seconds, the circuit breaker will allow the next call to update_customer pass through. If that call succeeds, the circuit is closed; if it fails, however, the circuit is opened again until another timeout elapses.

Excluding Exceptions

By default, a failed call is any call that raises an exception. However, it’s common to raise exceptions to also indicate business exceptions, and those exceptions should be ignored by the circuit breaker as they don’t indicate system errors:

# At creation time
db_breaker = DBCircuitBreaker(exclude=(CustomerValidationError,))

# At a later time
db_breaker.excluded_exceptions += (CustomerValidationError,)

In this case, when any function guarded by that circuit breaker raises CustomerValidationError (or any exception derived from CustomerValidationError), that call won’t be considered a system failure.

Monitoring and Management

A CircuitBreaker object provides properties and functions you can use to monitor and change its current state:

# Get the current number of consecutive failures
print db_breaker.fail_counter

# Get/set the maximum number of consecutive failures
print db_breaker.fail_max
db_breaker.fail_max = 10

# Get/set the current reset timeout period (in seconds)
print db_breaker.reset_timeout
db_breaker.reset_timeout = 60

# Get the current state, i.e., 'open', 'half-open', 'closed'
print db_breaker.current_state

# Closes the circuit

# Half-opens the circuit

# Opens the circuit

These properties and functions might and should be exposed to the operations staff as they help them find problems in the system.

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