04: Easier Development with debugtoolbar

Error handling and introspection using the pyramid_debugtoolbar add-on.


As we introduce the basics, we also want to show how to be productive in development and debugging. For example, we just discussed template reloading, and earlier we showed --reload for application reloading.

pyramid_debugtoolbar is a popular Pyramid add-on which makes several tools available in your browser. Adding it to your project illustrates several points about configuration.


  • Install and enable the toolbar to help during development.

  • Explain Pyramid add-ons.

  • Show how an add-on gets configured into your application.


  1. First we copy the results of the previous step.

    cd ..; cp -r ini debugtoolbar; cd debugtoolbar
  2. Add pyramid_debugtoolbar to our project's dependencies in setup.py as a Setuptools "extra" for development:

     1from setuptools import setup
     3# List of dependencies installed via `pip install -e .`
     4# by virtue of the Setuptools `install_requires` value below.
     5requires = [
     6    'pyramid',
     7    'waitress',
    10# List of dependencies installed via `pip install -e ".[dev]"`
    11# by virtue of the Setuptools `extras_require` value in the Python
    12# dictionary below.
    13dev_requires = [
    14    'pyramid_debugtoolbar',
    18    name='tutorial',
    19    install_requires=requires,
    20    extras_require={
    21        'dev': dev_requires,
    22    },
    23    entry_points={
    24        'paste.app_factory': [
    25            'main = tutorial:main'
    26        ],
    27    },
  3. Install our project and its newly added dependency. Note that we use the extra specifier [dev] to install development requirements and surround it and the period with double quote marks.

    $VENV/bin/pip install -e ".[dev]"
  4. Our debugtoolbar/development.ini gets a configuration entry for pyramid.includes:

    2use = egg:tutorial
    3pyramid.includes =
    4    pyramid_debugtoolbar
    7use = egg:waitress#main
    8listen = localhost:6543
  5. Run the WSGI application with:

    $VENV/bin/pserve development.ini --reload
  6. Open http://localhost:6543/ in your browser. See the handy toolbar on the right.


pyramid_debugtoolbar is a full-fledged Python package, available on PyPI just like thousands of other Python packages. Thus we start by installing the pyramid_debugtoolbar package into our virtual environment using normal Python package installation commands.

The pyramid_debugtoolbar Python package is also a Pyramid add-on, which means we need to include its add-on configuration into our web application. We could do this with imperative configuration in tutorial/__init__.py by using config.include. Pyramid also supports wiring in add-on configuration via our development.ini using pyramid.includes. We use this to load the configuration for the debugtoolbar.

You'll now see an attractive button on the right side of your browser, which you may click to provide introspective access to debugging information in a new browser tab. Even better, if your web application generates an error, you will see a nice traceback on the screen. When you want to disable this toolbar, there's no need to change code: you can remove it from pyramid.includes in the relevant .ini configuration file (thus showing why configuration files are handy).

Note that the toolbar injects a small amount of HTML/CSS into your app just before the closing </body> tag in order to display itself. If you start to experience otherwise inexplicable client-side weirdness, you can shut it off by commenting out the pyramid_debugtoolbar line in pyramid.includes temporarily.

Finally we've introduced the concept of Setuptools extras. These are optional or recommended features that may be installed with an "extras" specifier, in this case, dev. The specifier is the name of a key in a Python dictionary, and is surrounded by square brackets when invoked on the command line, for example, . The value for the key is a Python list of dependencies.

See also

See also pyramid_debugtoolbar.

Extra credit

  1. We added pyramid_debugtoolbar to the list of dev_requires dependencies in debugtoolbar/setup.py. We then installed the dependencies via pip install -e ".[dev]" by virtue of the Setuptools extras_require value in the Python dictionary. Why did we add them there instead of in the requires list?

  2. Introduce a bug into your application. Change:

    def hello_world(request):
        return Response('<body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body>')


    def hello_world(request):
        return xResponse('<body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body>')

    Save, and visit http://localhost:6543/ again. Notice the nice traceback display. On the lowest line, click the "screen" icon to the right, and try typing the variable names request and Response. What else can you discover?