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Run arbitrary Python functions indicated by JSON specs

Project description

SPyTEx

(this is still in early development, features will be added mostly according to internal needs, see planned features section at the end)

PyPI Build Status

SPyTEx (Simple Python Task Executor) is a small library and CLI utility allowing to run arbitrary tasks defined in your Python code as ordinary functions and configured through simple but flexible JSON-based specifications.

Warning

Arbitrary Python code can be run through SPyTEx, even malicious! Never run SPyTEx on untrusted input files!

Motivation

SPyTEx has been created for use in dynamic codebases which do not have one or few well-defined and stable entry points, but contain a large amount of interrelated functions and classes which can represent either single tasks by themselves or be used as parts of larger tasks.

The goal of SPyTEx is to provide a single entry point from which users can run all these tasks, without the need to create a command line interface (CLI) for each of them. Once SPyTEx is deployed alongside with your codebase, e.g. in a Python package distribution or in a Docker container, you can use its CLI to call arbitrary functions with arbitrary arguments, even if they were not planned to be used as entry points. Function and arguments are specified in a JSON file, with a specific syntax allowing to create complex Python objects as arguments.

While simple Python scripts can be used to launch arbitrary functions inside a codebase, SPyTEx allows to define tasks in form of JSON files which are a more standard format and provide some short notations for functionality such as unpickling objects from local or remote files.

Installation

pip install spytex

Task specification

A task is a call to a function (or any callable object). SPyTEx represents calls in JSON as an object with a ! entry specifying the full dotted name (i.e. package.subpackage.module.name) of the function to be invoked.

{"!": "acme.learn.train_model"}

This would be equivalent to launch a Python script like

from acme.learn import train_model
train_model()

To pass keyword arguments, just add them as entries to the same object.

{
  "!": "acme.learn.train_model",
  "data": "trainset.csv",
  "model": "svm"
}

# equivalent to:
from acme.learn import train_model
train_model(data='trainset.csv', model='svm')

To pass positional arguments, pass a list with * as key.

{
  "!": "acme.learn.train_model",
  "*": ["data1.csv", "data2.csv"],
  "model": "svm"
}

# equivalent to:
from acme.learn import train_model
train_model('data1.csv', 'data2.csv', model='svm')

If you have exactly one positional argument and no keyword arguments, you can use a shorter equivalent syntax (unless there is a clash with a magic function name, see below).

{"!acme.learn.train_model": "trainset.csv"}

# equivalent to:
from acme.learn import train_model
train_model('trainset.csv')

In order to pass more complex objects as arguments, a nested invocation can be specified in place of a single value: such invocation can be a class instantiation. In the example below we instantiate a scikit-learn classifier.

{
  "!": "acme.learn.train_model",
  "data": "trainset.csv",
  "model": {
    "!": "sklearn.svm.SVC",
    "C": 0.1,
    "kernel": "poly",
    "degree": 3
  }
}

# equivalent to:
from acme.learn import train_model
from sklearn.svm import SVC
train_model(data='trainset.csv', model=SVC(C=0.1, kernel='poly', degree=3))

To get a named object without calling it (e.g. a constant or a function to be passed to an higher-order one), use {".": "dotted.name"}.

{
  "!": "acme.learn.train_model",
  "data": "trainset.csv",
  "model_class": {".": "sklearn.svm.SVC"}
}

# equivalent to:
from acme.learn import train_model
from sklearn.svm import SVC
train_model(data='trainset.csv', model_class=SVC)

Some convenient "magic" calls in the form {"!name": "argument"} are provided for common operations. Currently supported magic functions are:

  • !run: invokes the task in the specified file and returns its result
  • !env: returns the value of the specified environment variable (None if undefined)
  • !unpickle: returns an object deserialized from given file using pickle.load (do not unpickle untrusted files!)

Example usage for !unpickle:

{
  "!": "acme.learn.validate_model",
  "data": "testset.csv",
  "model": {"!unpickle": "model.bin"}
}

# equivalent to:
import pickle
from acme.learn import validate_model
with open('model.bin', 'rb') as f:
    model = pickle.load(f)
validate_model(data='testset.csv', model=model)

Running a task

Once you have a task_file.json following the syntax above, just run

spytex task_file.json

If the function returns a non-None object, it will be printed to standard output, unless you add a -q/--quiet flag. Use the -p file.bin/--pickle file.bin option to pickle.dump the returned object to a given file.

Use spytex -h/spytex --help to get the list of all options.

Remote files

SPyTEx uses smart-open to open file names specified both in the JSON files and in the CLI: this allows to fetch and write files from HTTP[S] (read only), Amazon S3 and other non-local sources. Refer to the smart-open documentation for more information.

Internals

The spytex command performs the following key steps:

  1. the indicated source file is parsed using Python standard json module into an object graph made of standard Python objects (dicts, lists, ...);
  2. such graph is compiled into a graph of Definition objects, which formally represent the operators used in SPyTEx JSON (function calls, raw values, ...)
  3. the Definitions in the graph are recursively resolved: each of them is turned into the object it represents (function calls are executed, raw values are unwrapped, ...)

Planned features

(in rough priority order)

  • additional operators in JSON, e.g. to pass a date in "YYYY-MM-DD" format
  • command-line parameters (referenceable from JSON file) and more options (e.g. logging configuration)
  • support for different syntaxes (e.g. using keywords in place of symbols) and/or for JSON alternatives (e.g. TOML)
  • proper documentation

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