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Exceptions, HTTP Errors, and Redirects

Issuing redirects and HTTP errors

Here’s how to send redirects and HTTP errors in Pyramid compared to Pylons:

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# Pylons -- in controller action
from pylons.controllers.util import abort, redirect
abort(404)   # Not Found
abort(403)   # Forbidden
abort(400)   # Bad request; e.g., invalid query parameter
abort(500)   # Internal server error
redirect(url("section1"))   # Redirect (default 302 Found)

# Pyramid -- in view code
import pyramid.httpexceptions as exc
raise exc.exception_response(400)   # Not Found
raise exc.HTTPNotFound()            # Same thing
return exc.HTTPNotFound()           # Same thing
raise exc.HTTPForbidden()
raise exc.HTTPBadRequest()
raise exc.HTTPInternalServerError()
raise exc.HTTPFound(request.route_url("section1"))   # Redirect

The pyramid.httpexceptions module has classes for all official HTTP statuses. These classes inherit from both Response and Exception, so you can either return them or raise them. Raising HTTP exceptions can make your code structurally more readable. It’s particularly useful in subroutines where it can cut through several calling stack frames that would otherwise each need an if to pass the error condition through.

Exception rules:

  1. Pyramid internally raises HTTNotFound if no route matches the request, or if no view matches the route and request. It raises HTTPForbidden if the request is denied based on the current authorization policy.
  2. If an uncaught exception occurs during request processing, Pyramid will catch it and look for an “exception view” that matches it. An exception view is one whose context argument is the exception’s class, an ancestor of it, or an interface it implements. All other view predicates must also match; e.g., if a ‘route_name’ argument is specified, it must match the actual route name. (Thus an exception view is typically registered without a route name.) The view is called with the exception object as its context, and whatever response the view returns will be sent to the browser. You can thus use an exception view to customize the error screen shown to the user.
  3. If no matching exception view is found, HTTP exceptions are their own response so they are sent to the browser. Standard HTTPExceptions have a simple error message and layout; subclasses can customize this.
  4. Non-HTTPException responses propagate to the WSGI server. If the debug toolbar tween is enabled, it will catch the exception and display the interactive traceback. Otherwise the WSGI server will catch it and send its own “500 Internal Server Error” screen.

Here are the most popular HTTP exceptions:

Class Code Location Meaning
HTTPMovedPermanently 301 Y Permanent redirect; client should change bookmarks.
HTTPFound 302 Y Temporary redirect. [1]
HTTPSeeOther 303 Y Temporary redirect; client should use GET. [1]
HTTPTemporaryRedirect 307 Y Temporary redirect. [1]
HTTPClientError 400 N General user error; e.g., invalid query param.
HTTPUnauthorized 401 N User must authenticate.
HTTPForbidden 403 N Authorization failure, or general refusal.
HTTPNotFound 404 N The URL is not recognized.
HTTPGone 410 N The resource formerly at this URL is permanently gone; client should delete bookmarks.
HTTPInternalServerError 500 N The server could not process the request due to an internal error.

The constructor args for classes with a “Y” in the location column are (location="", detail=None, headers=None, comment=None, ...). Otherwise the constructor args are (detail=None, headers=None, comment=None, ...).

The location argument is optional at the Python level, but the HTTP spec requires a location that’s an absolute URL, so it’s effectively required.

The detail argument may be a plain-text string which will be incorporated into the error screen. headers may be a list of HTTP headers (name-value tuples) to add to the response. comment may be a plain-text string which is not shown to the user. (XXX Is it logged?)

Exception views

You can register an exception view for any exception class, although it’s most commonly used with HTTPNotFound or HTTPForbidden. Here’s an example of an exception view with a custom exception, borrowed from the Pyramid manual:

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from pyramid.response import Response

class ValidationFailure(Exception):
    pass

@view_config(context=ValidationFailure)
def failed_validation(exc, request):
    # If the view has two formal arguments, the first is the context.
    # The context is always available as ``request.context`` too.
    msg = exc.args[0] if exc.args else ""
    response =  Response('Failed validation: %s' % msg)
response.status_int = 500
return response

For convenience, Pyramid has special decorators and configurator methods to register a “Not Found” view or a “Forbidden” view. @notfound_view_config and @forbidden_view_config (defined in pyramid.view) takes care of the context argument for you.

Additionally, @notfound_view_config accepts an append_slash argument, which can be used to enforce a trailing-slash convention. If your site defines all its routes to end in a slash and you set append_slash=True, then when a slashless request doesn’t match any route, Pyramid try again with a slash appended to the request URL. If that matches a route, Pyramid will issue a redirect to it. This is useful only for sites that prefer a trailing slash (“/dir/” and “/dir/a/”). Other sites prefer not to have a trailing slash (“/dir” and “/dir/a”), and there are no special features for this.

Reference

[1](1, 2, 3) The three temporary redirect statuses are largely interchangeable but have slightly different purposes. Details in the HTTP status reference.

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