03: Application Configuration with .ini Files

Use Pyramid's pserve command with a .ini configuration file for simpler, better application running.


Pyramid has a first-class concept of configuration distinct from code. This approach is optional, but its presence makes it distinct from other Python web frameworks. It taps into Python's Setuptools library, which establishes conventions for installing and providing "entry points" for Python projects. Pyramid uses an entry point to let a Pyramid application know where to find the WSGI app.


  • Modify our setup.py to have an entry point telling Pyramid the location of the WSGI app.

  • Create an application driven by an .ini file.

  • Start the application with Pyramid's pserve command.

  • Move code into the package's __init__.py.


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

    cd ..; cp -r package ini; cd ini
  2. Our ini/setup.py needs a Setuptools entry point in the setup() function:

     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',
    11    name='tutorial',
    12    install_requires=requires,
    13    entry_points={
    14        'paste.app_factory': [
    15            'main = tutorial:main'
    16        ],
    17    },
  3. We can now install our project, thus generating (or re-generating) an "egg" at ini/tutorial.egg-info:

    $VENV/bin/pip install -e .
  4. Let's make a file ini/development.ini for our configuration:

    2use = egg:tutorial
    5use = egg:waitress#main
    6listen = localhost:6543
  5. We can refactor our startup code from the previous step's app.py into ini/tutorial/__init__.py:

     1from pyramid.config import Configurator
     2from pyramid.response import Response
     5def hello_world(request):
     6    return Response('<body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body>')
     9def main(global_config, **settings):
    10    config = Configurator(settings=settings)
    11    config.add_route('hello', '/')
    12    config.add_view(hello_world, route_name='hello')
    13    return config.make_wsgi_app()
  6. Now that ini/tutorial/app.py isn't used, let's remove it:

    rm tutorial/app.py
  7. Run your Pyramid application with:

    $VENV/bin/pserve development.ini --reload
  8. Open http://localhost:6543/.


Our development.ini file is read by pserve and serves to bootstrap our application. Processing then proceeds as described in the Pyramid chapter on application startup:

  • pserve looks for [app:main] and finds use = egg:tutorial.

  • The projects's setup.py has defined an entry point (lines 10-13) for the project's "main" entry point of tutorial:main.

  • The tutorial package's __init__ has a main function.

  • This function is invoked, with the values from certain .ini sections passed in.

The .ini file is also used for two other functions:

  • Configuring the WSGI server. [server:main] wires up the choice of which WSGI server for your WSGI application. In this case, we are using waitress which we specified in tutorial/setup.py and was installed in the Requirements step at the start of this tutorial. It also wires up the port number: listen = localhost:6543 tells waitress to listen on host localhost at port 6543.


    Running the command $VENV/bin/pip install -e . will check for previously installed packages in our virtual environment that are specified in our package's setup.py file, then install our package in editable mode, installing any requirements that were not previously installed. If a requirement was manually installed previously on the command line or otherwise, in this case Waitress, then $VENV/bin/pip install -e . will merely check that it is installed and move on.

  • Configuring Python logging. Pyramid uses Python standard logging, which needs a number of configuration values. The .ini serves this function. This provides the console log output that you see on startup and each request.

We moved our startup code from app.py to the package's tutorial/__init__.py. This isn't necessary, but it is a common style in Pyramid to take the WSGI app bootstrapping out of your module's code and put it in the package's __init__.py.

The pserve application runner has a number of command-line arguments and options. We are using --reload which tells pserve to watch the filesystem for changes to relevant code (Python files, the INI file, etc.) and, when something changes, restart the application. Very handy during development.

Extra credit

  1. If you don't like configuration and/or .ini files, could you do this yourself in Python code?

  2. Can we have multiple .ini configuration files for a project? Why might you want to do that?

  3. The entry point in setup.py didn't mention __init__.py when it declared tutorial:main function. Why not?

  4. What is the purpose of **settings? What does the ** signify?