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Project Description

This package provides an API to create and maintain hierarchical user preferences. Preferences can be easily created by defining schemas.

User Preferences

Implementing user preferences is usually a painful task, since it requires a lot of custom coding and constantly changing preferences makes it hard to maintain the data and UI. The preference package

>>> from zope.preference import preference

eases this pain by providing a generic user preferences framework that uses schemas to categorize and describe the preferences.

Preference Groups

Preferences are grouped in preference groups and the preferences inside a group are specified via the preferences group schema:

>>> import zope.interface
>>> import zope.schema
>>> class IZMIUserSettings(zope.interface.Interface):
...     """Basic User Preferences"""
...     email = zope.schema.TextLine(
...         title=u"E-mail Address",
...         description=u"E-mail Address used to send notifications")
...     skin = zope.schema.Choice(
...         title=u"Skin",
...         description=u"The skin that should be used for the ZMI.",
...         values=['Rotterdam', 'ZopeTop', 'Basic'],
...         default='Rotterdam')
...     showZopeLogo = zope.schema.Bool(
...         title=u"Show Zope Logo",
...         description=u"Specifies whether Zope logo should be displayed "
...                     u"at the top of the screen.",
...         default=True)

Now we can instantiate the preference group. Each preference group must have an ID by which it can be accessed and optional title and description fields for UI purposes:

>>> settings = preference.PreferenceGroup(
...     "ZMISettings",
...     schema=IZMIUserSettings,
...     title=u"ZMI User Settings",
...     description=u"")

Note that the preferences group provides the interface it is representing:

>>> IZMIUserSettings.providedBy(settings)

and the id, schema and title of the group are directly available:

>>> settings.__id__
>>> settings.__schema__
<InterfaceClass zope.preference.README.IZMIUserSettings>
>>> settings.__title__
u'ZMI User Settings'

So let’s ask the preference group for the skin setting:

>>> #doctest:+ELLIPSIS
Traceback (most recent call last):

So why did the lookup fail? Because we have not specified a principal yet, for which we want to lookup the preferences. To do that, we have to create a new interaction:

>>> class Principal:
...     def __init__(self, id):
... = id
>>> principal = Principal('zope.user')
>>> class Participation:
...     interaction = None
...     def __init__(self, principal):
...         self.principal = principal
>>> participation = Participation(principal)
>>> import

We also need an IAnnotations adapter for principals, so we can store the settings:

>>> from zope.annotation.interfaces import IAnnotations
>>> @zope.interface.implementer(IAnnotations)
... class PrincipalAnnotations(dict):
...     data = {}
...     def __new__(class_, principal, context):
...         try:
...             annotations =[]
...         except KeyError:
...             annotations = dict.__new__(class_)
...   [] = annotations
...         return annotations
...     def __init__(self, principal, context):
...         pass
>>> from zope.component import provideAdapter
>>> provideAdapter(PrincipalAnnotations,
...                (Principal, zope.interface.Interface), IAnnotations)

Let’s now try to access the settings again:


which is the default value, since we have not set it yet. We can now reassign the value:

>>> = 'Basic'

However, you cannot just enter any value, since it is validated before the assignment:

>>> = 'MySkin'
Traceback (most recent call last):
ConstraintNotSatisfied: MySkin

Preference Group Trees

The preferences would not be very powerful, if you could create a full preferences. So let’s create a sub-group for our ZMI user settings, where we can adjust the look and feel of the folder contents view:

>>> class IFolderSettings(zope.interface.Interface):
...     """Basic User Preferences"""
...     shownFields = zope.schema.Set(
...         title=u"Shown Fields",
...         description=u"Fields shown in the table.",
...         value_type=zope.schema.Choice(['name', 'size', 'creator']),
...         default=set(['name', 'size']))
...     sortedBy = zope.schema.Choice(
...         title=u"Sorted By",
...         description=u"Data field to sort by.",
...         values=['name', 'size', 'creator'],
...         default='name')
>>> folderSettings = preference.PreferenceGroup(
...     "ZMISettings.Folder",
...     schema=IFolderSettings,
...     title=u"Folder Content View Settings")

Note that the id was chosen so that the parent id is the prefix of the child’s id. Our new preference sub-group should now be available as an attribute or an item on the parent group …

>>> settings.Folder
Traceback (most recent call last):
AttributeError: 'Folder' is not a preference or sub-group.

… but not before we register the groups as utilities:

>>> from zope.preference import interfaces
>>> from zope.component import provideUtility
>>> provideUtility(settings, interfaces.IPreferenceGroup,
...                name='ZMISettings')
>>> provideUtility(folderSettings, interfaces.IPreferenceGroup,
...                name='ZMISettings.Folder')

If we now try to lookup the sub-group again, we should be successful:

>>> settings.Folder #doctest:+ELLIPSIS
<zope.preference.preference.PreferenceGroup object at ...>
>>> settings['Folder'] #doctest:+ELLIPSIS
<zope.preference.preference.PreferenceGroup object at ...>

While the registry of the preference groups is flat, the careful naming of the ids allows us to have a tree of preferences. Note that this pattern is very similar to the way modules are handled in Python; they are stored in a flat dictionary in sys.modules, but due to the naming they appear to be in a namespace tree.

While we are at it, there are also preference categories that can be compared to Python packages. They basically are just a higher level grouping concept that is used by the UI to better organize the preferences. A preference group can be converted to a category by simply providing an additional interface:

>>> zope.interface.alsoProvides(settings, interfaces.IPreferenceCategory)
>>> interfaces.IPreferenceCategory.providedBy(settings)

Default Preferences

It sometimes desirable to define default settings on a site-by-site basis, instead of just using the default value from the schema. The preferences package provides a module

>>> from zope.preference import default

that implements a default preferences provider that can be added as a unnamed utility for each site.

>>> root
< ...>
>>> rsm
<LocalSiteManager ++etc++site>

Now we can register the default preference provider with the root site:

>>> provider = addUtility(
...     rsm, default.DefaultPreferenceProvider(),
...     interfaces.IDefaultPreferenceProvider)

So before we set an explicit default value for a preference, the schema field default is used:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

But if we now set a new default value with the provider,

>>> defaultFolder = provider.getDefaultPreferenceGroup('ZMISettings.Folder')
>>> defaultFolder.sortedBy = 'size'

then the default of the setting changes:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

The default preference providers also implicitly acquire default values from parent sites. So if we make folder1 a site and set it as the active site

>>> folder1 = root['folder1']
>>> from import LocalSiteManager
>>> sm1 = LocalSiteManager(folder1)
>>> folder1.setSiteManager(sm1)
>>> zope.component.hooks.setSite(folder1)

and add a default provider there,

>>> provider1 = addUtility(
...     sm1, default.DefaultPreferenceProvider(),
...     interfaces.IDefaultPreferenceProvider)

then we still get the root’s default values, because we have not defined any in the higher default provider:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

But if we provide the new provider with a default value for sortedBy,

>>> defaultFolder1 = provider1.getDefaultPreferenceGroup('ZMISettings.Folder')
>>> defaultFolder1.sortedBy = 'creator'

then it is used instead:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

Of course, once the root site becomes our active site again

>>> zope.component.hooks.setSite(root)

the default value of the root provider is used:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

Of course, all the defaults in the world are not relevant anymore as soon as the user actually provides a value:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy = 'name'
>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

Oh, and have I mentioned that entered values are always validated? So you cannot just assign any old value:

>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy = 'foo'
Traceback (most recent call last):
ConstraintNotSatisfied: foo

Finally, if the user deletes his/her explicit setting, we are back to the default value:

>>> del settings.Folder.sortedBy
>>> settings.Folder.sortedBy

Creating Preference Groups Using ZCML

If you are using the user preference system in Zope 3, you will not have to manually setup the preference groups as we did above (of course). We will use ZCML instead. First, we need to register the directives:

>>> from zope.configuration import xmlconfig
>>> import zope.preference
>>> context = xmlconfig.file('meta.zcml', zope.preference)

Then the system sets up a root preference group:

>>> context = xmlconfig.string('''
...     <configure
...         xmlns=""
...         i18n_domain="test">
...       <preferenceGroup
...           id=""
...           title="User Preferences"
...           />
...     </configure>''', context)

Now we can use the preference system in its intended way. We access the folder settings as follows:

>>> import zope.component
>>> prefs = zope.component.getUtility(interfaces.IPreferenceGroup)
>>> prefs.ZMISettings.Folder.sortedBy

Let’s register the ZMI settings again under a new name via ZCML:

>>> context = xmlconfig.string('''
...     <configure
...         xmlns=""
...         i18n_domain="test">
...       <preferenceGroup
...           id="ZMISettings2"
...           title="ZMI Settings NG"
...           schema="zope.preference.README.IZMIUserSettings"
...           category="true"
...           />
...     </configure>''', context)
>>> prefs.ZMISettings2 #doctest:+ELLIPSIS
<zope.preference.preference.PreferenceGroup object at ...>
>>> prefs.ZMISettings2.__title__
u'ZMI Settings NG'
>>> IZMIUserSettings.providedBy(prefs.ZMISettings2)
>>> interfaces.IPreferenceCategory.providedBy(prefs.ZMISettings2)

And the tree can built again by carefully constructing the id:

>>> context = xmlconfig.string('''
...     <configure
...         xmlns=""
...         i18n_domain="test">
...       <preferenceGroup
...           id="ZMISettings2.Folder"
...           title="Folder Settings"
...           schema="zope.preference.README.IFolderSettings"
...           />
...     </configure>''', context)
>>> prefs.ZMISettings2 #doctest:+ELLIPSIS
<zope.preference.preference.PreferenceGroup object at ...>
>>> prefs.ZMISettings2.Folder.__title__
u'Folder Settings'
>>> IFolderSettings.providedBy(prefs.ZMISettings2.Folder)
>>> interfaces.IPreferenceCategory.providedBy(prefs.ZMISettings2.Folder)

Simple Python-Level Access

If a site is set, getting the user preferences is very simple:

>>> from zope.preference import UserPreferences
>>> prefs2 = UserPreferences()
>>> prefs2.ZMISettings.Folder.sortedBy

This function is also commonly registered as an adapter,

>>> from zope.location.interfaces import ILocation
>>> provideAdapter(UserPreferences, [ILocation], interfaces.IUserPreferences)

so that you can adapt any location to the user preferences:

>>> prefs3 = interfaces.IUserPreferences(folder1)
>>> prefs3.ZMISettings.Folder.sortedBy


Okay, so all these objects are nice, but they do not make it any easier to access the preferences in page templates. Thus, a special traversal namespace has been created that makes it very simple to access the preferences via a traversal path. But before we can use the path expressions, we have to register all necessary traversal components and the special preferences namespace:

>>> import zope.traversing.interfaces
>>> provideAdapter(preference.preferencesNamespace, [None],
...                      zope.traversing.interfaces.ITraversable,
...                      'preferences')

We can now access the preferences as follows:

>>> from zope.traversing.api import traverse
>>> traverse(None, '++preferences++ZMISettings/skin')
>>> traverse(None, '++preferences++/ZMISettings/skin')


You might already wonder under which permissions the preferences are available. They are actually available publicly (CheckerPublic), but that is not a problem, since the available values are looked up specifically for the current user. And why should a user not have full access to his/her preferences?

Let’s create a checker using the function that the security machinery is actually using:

>>> checker = preference.PreferenceGroupChecker(settings)
>>> checker.permission_id('skin')
>>> checker.setattr_permission_id('skin')

The id, title, description, and schema are publicly available for access, but are not available for mutation at all:

>>> checker.permission_id('__id__')
>>> checker.setattr_permission_id('__id__') is None

The only way security could be compromised is when one could override the annotations property. However, this property is not available for public consumption at all, including read access:

>>> checker.permission_id('annotation') is None
>>> checker.setattr_permission_id('annotation') is None


4.0.0a1 (2013-02-24)

  • Added support for Python 3.3.
  • Replaced deprecated zope.interface.implements usage with equivalent zope.interface.implementer decorator.
  • Dropped support for Python 2.4 and 2.5.
  • Refactored tests not to rely on anymore.
  • Fixed a bug while accessing the parent of a preference group.

3.8.0 (2010-06-12)

  • Split out from
  • Removed dependency on by using zope.component.hooks.
  • Removed dependency on by using zope.container.
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