Using Components to Extend Schema

It is possible to use schema components and the %import construct to extend the set of section types available for a specific configuration file, and allow the new components to be used in place of standard components.

The key to making this work is the use of abstract section types. Wherever the original schema accepts an abstract type, it is possible to load new implementations of the abstract type and use those instead of, or in addition to, the implementations loaded by the original schema.

Abstract types are generally used to represent interfaces. Sometimes these are interfaces for factory objects, and sometimes not, but there’s an interface that the new component needs to implement. What interface is required should be documented in the description element in the abstracttype element; this may be by reference to an interface specified in a Python module or described in some other bit of documentation.

The following things need to be created to make the new component usable from the configuration file:

  1. An implementation of the required interface.
  2. A schema component that defines a section type that contains the information needed to construct the component.
  3. A datatype function that converts configuration data to an instance of the component.

For simplicity, let’s assume that the implementation is defined by a Python class.

The example component we build here will be in the noise package, but any package will do. Components loadable using %import must be contained in the component.xml file; alternate filenames may not be selected by the %import construct.

Create a ZConfig component that provides a section type to support your component. The new section type must declare that it implements the appropriate abstract type; it should probably look something like this:

<component prefix="noise.server">
 <import package="ZServer"/>

 <sectiontype name="noise-generator"

   <!-- specific configuration data should be described here -->

   <key name="port"
       Port number to listen on.

   <key name="color"
       Silly way to specify a noise generation algorithm.


This example uses one of the standard ZConfig datatypes, port-number, and requires two additional types to be provided by the noise.server module: NoiseServerFactory and noise_color().

The noise_color() function is a datatype conversion for a key, so it accepts a string and returns the value that should be used:

_noise_colors = {
    # color -> r,g,b
    'white': (255, 255, 255),
    'pink':  (255, 182, 193),

def noise_color(string):
    if string in _noise_colors:
        return _noise_colors[string]
        raise ValueError('unknown noise color: %r' % string)

NoiseServerFactory is a little different, as it’s the datatype function for a section rather than a key. The parameter isn’t a string, but a section value object with two attributes, port and color.

Since the ZServer.server abstract type requires that the component returned is a factory object, the datatype function can be implemented at the constructor for the class of the factory object. (If the datatype function could select different implementation classes based on the configuration values, it makes more sense to use a simple function that returns the appropriate implementation.)

A class that implements this datatype might look like this:

from ZServer.datatypes import ServerFactory
from noise.generator import WhiteNoiseGenerator, PinkNoiseGenerator

class NoiseServerFactory(ServerFactory):

  def __init__(self, section):
      # host and ip will be initialized by ServerFactory.prepare() = None
      self.ip = None
      self.port = section.port
      self.color = section.color

  def create(self):
      if self.color == 'white':
          generator = WhiteNoiseGenerator()
          generator = PinkNoiseGenerator()
      return NoiseServer(self.ip, self.port, generator)

You’ll need to arrange for the package containing this component to be available on Python’s sys.path before the configuration file is loaded; this is mostly easily done by manipulating the PYTHONPATH environment variable.

Your configuration file can now include the following to load and use your new component:

%import noise

  port 1234
  color white