Creating dynamic websites with Python and WSGI


A strip of film from the animated film Katsudō Shashin (1907), modified by Bernd Klein Please notice:
Work on this topic is under process. (August 2014)

WSGI is the Web Server Gateway Interface. It is a specification that describes how web servers communicate with web applications. It is a framework for the Python. It was originally specified in 2003. WSGI has become a standard for Python web application development. WSGI has been specified in PEP 3333. The abstract says "This document specifies a proposed standard interface between web servers and Python web applications or frameworks, to promote web application portability across a variety of web servers."

Simple Example with WSGI

We demonstrate the way of working with a simple example, actually as simple as simple can be. All it does will be to greet a visitor of the website with "Hello my friend!", we just had enough of "Hello World".
from wsgiref.simple_server import make_server

def application(environ, start_response):
    start_response("200 OK", [("Content-type", "text/plain")])
    return ["Hello my friend!".encode("utf-8")]

server = make_server('localhost', 8080, application)
You can save this program wherever you want on your computer. If you start it with "python3", you can visit the URL "localhost:8080" with a browser of your choice. You should see now: "Hello my friend!" This text will appear within your browser. On the terminal, you will the an output, which looks similar to this:

$ python3 - - [19/Aug/2014 10:31:39] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 16
You may have noticed that we used Python 3 to start the server. The program runs with Python 2 as well. There are lots of similar examples out there on the web which don't work for Python 3. The reason is in many cases, that they don't return a bytes string, but a "simple" str class instance. So, if you drop the method call '.encode("utf-8")', the program will only run with Pyhton2 but not with Python3 anymore.

We used the simple reference implementation wsgiref of WSGI, which is included in Python's standard library. It's easier to for testing purposes. The make_server method takes five parameters:

The function "app" - used as the third parameter of make_server - needs two parameters:

Another example

The following program nothing new. It's just the previous example, which has to be extended so that the function application returns the first 30 lines of text from the novel Ulysses by James Joyce:

from wsgiref.simple_server import make_server

def application(environ, start_response):
    start_response("200 OK", [("Content-type", "text/plain")])

    fh = open("ulysses.txt")
    lines = [fh.readline().encode("utf-8") for i in range(30)]

    return lines

server = make_server('saturn', 8080, application)

The browser output looks like this:

Beginning of the novel ulysses by web browser wsgi