Python Barcamp Cologne

The Python BarCamp Cologne 2012 happened last weekend. It was well organized by Reimar Bauer and the Cyrus office space is just very well suited for this kind of event: lots of space, rooms, equipment, drinks, …

The proceedings of Saturday and Sunday are available on Etherpads.

My most favorite discovery was Sentry – an open-source exception logging tool that has a nice UI and is simple to set up. Kudos to the Disqus crew! I’m looking forward to making this available as a managed component in as soon as I get time to do so. 🙂

Other interesting topics that I joined were: a discussion about WSGI servers, parallelization, template engines, debugging and the infamous lightning talks.

Obviously I couldn’t restrain myself and so I offered a session on service deployment trying to answer some questions that people had and presenting some of the code we wrote when extracting our knowledge into batou.

Another session that I tried to foster was about #failure: in addition to talking about the cool things that we found working I wanted to hear about stuff that doesn’t work: software, organisational issues, etc. We kind of got stuck on bashing anything with the label “Enterprise” and the standard library.

On enterprise: the most weird experience I had lately boils down to this video by RedHat about their JBoss offering – say what?

The stdlib bashing wasn’t aggressive at all: we found some specific quirks and tried to get some understanding why things are the way they are. For me, basically, the standard library is what comes out of “batteries included” – it will have something in there that helps you out accomplishing what you want (like a pack of AA batteries) but if you’re serious about it you might need to roll some different module (like a car battery). I don’t think dropping the standard library would be a wise choice and I also don’t think that “one size fits all”.

I also got a surprising invite to presenting at the GUUG meeting next year and I’m pretty excited about that!

So, thanks again to Reimar and the other people organizing and sponsoring this event!

Profiling class-based views

Just a quick note for profiling e.g. Zope views:

class MyView(object):
    def __call__(self):
        result = {}
        cProfile.runctx('result["x"] = super(Body, self).__call__()',
                        globals(), locals(), '/tmp/viewprofile')
        return result['x']

Even though “exec ‘result = super(…) in globals(), locals()’ works, it seems that cProfile does something a little differently here, so that writing to a local variable is not possible.

Sprint fruits: gocept.exttest and gocept.package

The whole company spent three days in Kloster Drübeck sprinting on internal tools and topics.

We overhauled our workflow for generating invoices and identified steps that we could automate.

We polished and released gocept.exttest, which integrates for example JavaScript unittest to Python’s unittest framework. In a nutshell, it allows you to write JS tests like this:

require 'my_app.js'

describe 'MyApp', ->
  it 'has read Douglas Adams', ->
  expect(new MyApp().calculate_the_answer()).toEqual(42)

and include them into your Python test suite with a single command:

import gocept.exttest
def test_suite():
    return gocept.exttest.makeSuite(
        pkg_resources.resource_filename('your.package', 'tests'))

The third area of our efforts was documentation, we designed a Sphinx skeleton to make it easy to get started writing docs, and created a template for eggs that contains the necessary boilerplate and codifies our packaging and documentation conventions. While the concrete details are probably a bit specific to our tastes, some of the general mechanincs might be interesting to others, so we’ll release gocept.package once we’ve got the missing integration tests sorted out.

Getting sys.path out of buildout

A wrinkly part of buildout‘s design is that the PYTHONPATH is not easily available outside of scripts generated by buildout itself.

I’ve been using the following workaround in some of my development tools for a while and found it quite helpful, even though it’s hacky and rough around the edges:

if [ ! -e bin/wpy ]; then
    bin/buildout install wpy
export PYTHONPATH=$(bin/wpy -c "import sys; print ':'.join([p for p in sys.path if not p.startswith('/usr')])")
# do real work here

This needs a part that installs a python interpreter into the buildout; I’m using this in my ~/.buildout/default.cfg, since all projects I deal with have a [test] part:

recipe = zc.recipe.egg
eggs = ${test:eggs}
interpreter = wpy

A variation on this theme is this script which generates a TAGS file without the need for a special recipe (like z3c.recipe.tag) just to get the PYTHONPATH:

if [ ! -e bin/wpy ]; then
    bin/buildout install wpy
export IFS=
PATHS=$(bin/wpy -c "import sys; print '\n'.join([p for p in sys.path if not p.startswith('/usr')])")
echo $PATHS | ctags --python-kinds=-i -R -e -L -

Assertion helper for zope.testbrowser and unittest

zope.testbrowser is a valuable tool for integration tests. Historically,  the Zope community used to write quite a lot of doctests, but we at gocept have found them to be rather clumsy and too often yielding neither good tests nor good documentation. That’s why we don’t use doctest much anymore, and prefer plain unittest.TestCases instead. However, doctest has one very nice feature, ellipsis matching, that is really helpful for checking HTML output, since you can only make assertions about the parts that interest you. For example, given this kind of page:

>>> print browser.contents
    <title>Simple Page</title>
    <h1>Simple Page</h1>

If all you’re interested in is that the <h1> is rendered properly, you can simply say:

>>> print browser.contents
<...<h1>Simple Page</h1>...

We’ve now ported this functionality to unittest, as assertEllipsis, in gocept.testing. Some examples:

self.assertEllipsis('', 'foo bar qux')
# -> nothing happens

self.assertEllipsis('foo', 'bar')
# -> AssertionError: Differences (ndiff with -expected +actual):
     - foo
     + bar

self.assertNotEllipsis('foo', 'foo')
# -> AssertionError: "Value unexpectedly matches expression 'foo'."

To use it, inherit from gocept.testing.assertion.Ellipsis in addition to unittest.TestCase.

gocept talks at PyCon DE

No blog post for quite a while… part of the reason is that we gocept developers were busy preparing talks for PyCon DE 2011. As result, we presented an impressive number of 7 talks/tutorials at this lovely conference.

Curious? Here is a list of all sessions (most with video recordings). Please be aware that nearly all of this stuff is in German.



Shutting down an HTTPServer

For integration tests it can be helpful to have a fake HTTP server whose behaviour the tests can control. All necessary building blocks are even included in Python standard library. However, the BaseHTTPServer is surprisingly hard to shut down properly, so that it gives up the socket and everything.

While working on gocept.selenium, we came up with some code that does the trick (together with Jan-Wijbrand Kolman and Jan-Jaap Driessen).

class HTTPServer(BaseHTTPServer.HTTPServer):

    _continue = True

    def serve_until_shutdown(self):
        while self._continue:

    def shutdown(self):
        self._continue = False
        # We fire a last request at the server in order to take it out of the
        # while loop in `self.serve_until_shutdown`.
                'http://%s:%s/' % (self.server_name, self.server_port))
        except urllib2.URLError:
            # If the server is already shut down, we receive a socket error,
            # which we ignore.

You might use this in a zope.testrunner layer like this:

class SilentRequestHandler(BaseHTTPServer.BaseHTTPRequestHandler):

    def log_message(self, format, *args):

class HTTPServerLayer(object):

    host = 'localhost'

    def setUp(self):
        self.server = None
        self.port = random.randint(30000, 40000)

    def start_server(self):
        self.server = HTTPServer((, self.port), SilentRequestHandler)
        self.server_thread = threading.Thread(
        self.server_thread.daemon = True
        # Kludge: Wait a little as it sometimes takes a while to get the server
        # started.

    def stop_server(self):
        if self.server is None:

    def tearDown(self):