SimpleXMLRPCServer – Implements an XML-RPC server.

Purpose:Implements an XML-RPC server.
Available In:2.2 and later

The SimpleXMLRPCServer module contains classes for creating your own cross-platform, language-independent server using the XML-RPC protocol. Client libraries exist for many other languages, making XML-RPC an easy choice for building RPC-style services.

Note

All of the examples provided here include a client module as well to interact with the demonstration server. If you want to download the code and run the examples, you will want to use 2 separate shell windows, one for the server and one for the client.

A Simple Server

This simple server example exposes a single function that takes the name of a directory and returns the contents. The first step is to create the SimpleXMLRPCServer instance and tell it where to listen for incoming requests (‘localhost’ port 9000 in this case). Then we define a function to be part of the service, and register the function so the server knows how to call it. The final step is to put the server into an infinite loop receiving and responding to requests.

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import logging
import os

# Set up logging
logging.basicConfig(level=logging.DEBUG)

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), logRequests=True)

# Expose a function
def list_contents(dir_name):
    logging.debug('list_contents(%s)', dir_name)
    return os.listdir(dir_name)
server.register_function(list_contents)

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

The server can be accessed at the URL http://localhost:9000 using xmlrpclib. This client code illustrates how to call the list_contents() service from Python.

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print proxy.list_contents('/tmp')

Notice that we simply connect the ServerProxy to the server using its base URL, and then call methods directly on the proxy. Each method invoked on the proxy is translated into a request to the server. The arguments are formatted using XML, and then POSTed to the server. The server unpacks the XML and figures out what function to call based on the method name invoked from the client. The arguments are passed to the function, and the return value is translated back to XML to be returned to the client.

Starting the server gives:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_function.py
Use Control-C to exit

Running the client in a second window shows the contents of my /tmp directory:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_function_client.py
['.s.PGSQL.5432', '.s.PGSQL.5432.lock', '.X0-lock', '.X11-unix', 'ccc_exclude.1mkahl',
'ccc_exclude.BKG3gb', 'ccc_exclude.M5jrgo', 'ccc_exclude.SPecwL', 'com.hp.launchport', 'emacs527',
'hsperfdata_dhellmann', 'launch-8hGHUp', 'launch-RQnlcc', 'launch-trsdly', 'launchd-242.T5UzTy',
'var_backups']

and after the request is finished, log output appears in the server window:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_function.py
Use Control-C to exit
DEBUG:root:list_contents(/tmp)
localhost - - [29/Jun/2008 09:32:07] "POST /RPC2 HTTP/1.0" 200 -

The first line of output is from the logging.debug() call inside list_contents(). The second line is from the server logging the request because logRequests is True.

Alternate Names

Sometimes the function names you use inside your modules or libraries are not the names you want to use in your external API. You might need to load a platform-specific implementation, build the service API dynamically based on a configuration file, or replace real functions with stubs for testing. If you want to register a function with an alternate name, pass the name as the second argument to register_function(), like this:

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import os

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000))

# Expose a function with an alternate name
def list_contents(dir_name):
    return os.listdir(dir_name)
server.register_function(list_contents, 'dir')

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

The client should now use the name dir() instead of list_contents():

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print 'dir():', proxy.dir('/tmp')
print 'list_contents():', proxy.list_contents('/tmp')

Calling list_contents() results in an error, since the server no longer has a handler registered by that name.

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_alternate_name_client.py
dir(): ['.s.PGSQL.5432', '.s.PGSQL.5432.lock', '.X0-lock', '.X11-unix', 'ccc_exclude.1mkahl', 'ccc_exclude.BKG3gb', 'ccc_exclude.M5jrgo', 'ccc_exclude.SPecwL', 'com.hp.launchport', 'emacs527', 'hsperfdata_dhellmann', 'launch-8hGHUp', 'launch-RQnlcc', 'launch-trsdly', 'launchd-242.T5UzTy', 'temp_textmate.V6YKzm', 'var_backups']
list_contents():
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Users/dhellmann/Documents/PyMOTW/in_progress/SimpleXMLRPCServer/SimpleXMLRPCServer_alternate_name_client.py", line 15, in <module>
    print 'list_contents():', proxy.list_contents('/tmp')
  File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/xmlrpclib.py", line 1147, in __call__
    return self.__send(self.__name, args)
  File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/xmlrpclib.py", line 1437, in __request
    verbose=self.__verbose
  File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/xmlrpclib.py", line 1201, in request
    return self._parse_response(h.getfile(), sock)
  File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/xmlrpclib.py", line 1340, in _parse_response
    return u.close()
  File "/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/xmlrpclib.py", line 787, in close
    raise Fault(**self._stack[0])
xmlrpclib.Fault: <Fault 1: '<type \'exceptions.Exception\'>:method "list_contents" is not supported'>

Dotted Names

Individual functions can be registered with names that are not normally legal for Python identifiers. For example, you can include ‘.’ in your names to separate the namespace in the service. This example extends our “directory” service to add “create” and “remove” calls. All of the functions are registered using the prefix “dir.” so that the same server can provide other services using a different prefix. One other difference in this example is that some of the functions return None, so we have to tell the server to translate the None values to a nil value (see XML-RPC Extensions).

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import os

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), allow_none=True)

server.register_function(os.listdir, 'dir.list')
server.register_function(os.mkdir, 'dir.create')
server.register_function(os.rmdir, 'dir.remove')

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

To call the service functions in the client, simply refer to them with the dotted name, like so:

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print 'BEFORE       :', 'EXAMPLE' in proxy.dir.list('/tmp')
print 'CREATE       :', proxy.dir.create('/tmp/EXAMPLE')
print 'SHOULD EXIST :', 'EXAMPLE' in proxy.dir.list('/tmp')
print 'REMOVE       :', proxy.dir.remove('/tmp/EXAMPLE')
print 'AFTER        :', 'EXAMPLE' in proxy.dir.list('/tmp')

and (assuming you don’t have a /tmp/EXAMPLE file on your system) the output for the sample client script looks like:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_dotted_name_client.py
BEFORE       : False
CREATE       : None
SHOULD EXIST : True
REMOVE       : None
AFTER        : False

Arbitrary Names

A less useful, but potentially interesting feature is the ability to register functions with names that are otherwise invalid attribute names. This example service registers a function with the name “multiply args”.

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000))

def my_function(a, b):
    return a * b
server.register_function(my_function, 'multiply args')

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

Since the registered name contains a space, we can’t use dot notation to access it directly from the proxy. We can, however, use getattr().

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print getattr(proxy, 'multiply args')(5, 5)

You should avoid creating services with names like this, though. This example is provided not necessarily because it is a good idea, but because you may encounter existing services with arbitrary names and need to be able to call them.

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_arbitrary_name_client.py
25

Exposing Methods of Objects

The earlier sections talked about techniques for establishing APIs using good naming conventions and namespacing. Another way to incorporate namespacing into your API is to use instances of classes and expose their methods. We can recreate the first example using an instance with a single method.

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import os
import inspect

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), logRequests=True)

class DirectoryService:
    def list(self, dir_name):
        return os.listdir(dir_name)

server.register_instance(DirectoryService())

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

A client can call the method directly:

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print proxy.list('/tmp')

and receive output like:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_instance_client.py
['.s.PGSQL.5432', '.s.PGSQL.5432.lock', '.X0-lock', '.X11-unix', 'ccc_exclude.1mkahl',
'ccc_exclude.BKG3gb', 'ccc_exclude.M5jrgo', 'ccc_exclude.SPecwL', 'com.hp.launchport',
'emacs527', 'hsperfdata_dhellmann', 'launch-8hGHUp', 'launch-RQnlcc', 'launch-trsdly',
'launchd-242.T5UzTy', 'temp_textmate.XNiIdy', 'var_backups']

We’ve lost the “dir.” prefix for the service, though, so let’s define a class to let us set up a service tree that can be invoked from clients.

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import os
import inspect

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), logRequests=True)

class ServiceRoot:
    pass

class DirectoryService:
    def list(self, dir_name):
        return os.listdir(dir_name)

root = ServiceRoot()
root.dir = DirectoryService()

server.register_instance(root, allow_dotted_names=True)

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

By registering the instance of ServiceRoot with allow_dotted_names enabled, we give the server permission to walk the tree of objects when a request comes in to find the named method using getattr().

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print proxy.dir.list('/tmp')
$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_instance_dotted_names_client.py
['.s.PGSQL.5432', '.s.PGSQL.5432.lock', '.X0-lock', '.X11-unix', 'ccc_exclude.1mkahl', 'ccc_exclude.BKG3gb', 'ccc_exclude.M5jrgo', 'ccc_exclude.SPecwL', 'com.hp.launchport', 'emacs527', 'hsperfdata_dhellmann', 'launch-8hGHUp', 'launch-RQnlcc', 'launch-trsdly', 'launchd-242.T5UzTy', 'temp_textmate.adghkQ', 'var_backups']

Dispatching Calls Yourself

By default, register_instance() finds all callable attributes of the instance with names not starting with ‘_‘ and registers them with their name. If you want to be more careful about the exposed methods, you could provide your own dispatching logic. For example:

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer
import os
import inspect

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), logRequests=True)

def expose(f):
    "Decorator to set exposed flag on a function."
    f.exposed = True
    return f

def is_exposed(f):
    "Test whether another function should be publicly exposed."
    return getattr(f, 'exposed', False)

class MyService:
    PREFIX = 'prefix'

    def _dispatch(self, method, params):
        # Remove our prefix from the method name
        if not method.startswith(self.PREFIX + '.'):
            raise Exception('method "%s" is not supported' % method)
        
        method_name = method.partition('.')[2]
        func = getattr(self, method_name)            
        if not is_exposed(func):
            raise Exception('method "%s" is not supported' % method)
        
        return func(*params)

    @expose
    def public(self):
        return 'This is public'
        
    def private(self):
        return 'This is private'

server.register_instance(MyService())

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

The public() method of MyService is marked as exposed to the XML-RPC service while private() is not. The _dispatch() method is invoked when the client tries to access a function that is part of MyService. It first enforces the use of a prefix (“prefix.” in this case, but you can use any string). Then it requires the function to have an attribute called exposed with a true value. The exposed flag is set on a function using a decorator for convenience.

Here are a few sample client calls:

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
print 'public():', proxy.prefix.public()
try:
    print 'private():', proxy.prefix.private()
except Exception, err:
    print 'ERROR:', err
try:
    print 'public() without prefix:', proxy.public()
except Exception, err:
    print 'ERROR:', err

and the resulting output, with the expected error messages trapped and reported:

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_instance_with_prefix_client.py
public(): This is public
private(): ERROR: <Fault 1: '<type \'exceptions.Exception\'>:method "prefix.private" is not supported'>
public() without prefix: ERROR: <Fault 1: '<type \'exceptions.Exception\'>:method "public" is not supported'>

There are several other ways to override the dispatching mechanism, including subclassing directly from SimpleXMLRPCServer. Check out the docstrings in the module for more details.

Introspection API

As with many network services, it is possible to query an XML-RPC server to ask it what methods it supports and learn how to use them. SimpleXMLRPCServer includes a set of public methods for performing this introspection. By default they are turned off, but can be enabled with register_introspection_functions(). You can add explicit support for system.listMethods() and system.methodHelp() by defining _listMethods() and _methodHelp() on your service class. For example,

from SimpleXMLRPCServer import SimpleXMLRPCServer, list_public_methods
import os
import inspect

server = SimpleXMLRPCServer(('localhost', 9000), logRequests=True)
server.register_introspection_functions()

class DirectoryService:
    
    def _listMethods(self):
        return list_public_methods(self)

    def _methodHelp(self, method):
        f = getattr(self, method)
        return inspect.getdoc(f)
    
    def list(self, dir_name):
        """list(dir_name) => [<filenames>]
        
        Returns a list containing the contents of the named directory.
        """
        return os.listdir(dir_name)

server.register_instance(DirectoryService())

try:
    print 'Use Control-C to exit'
    server.serve_forever()
except KeyboardInterrupt:
    print 'Exiting'

In this case, the convenience function list_public_methods() scans an instance to return the names of callable attributes that do not start with ‘_‘. You can redefine _listMethods() to apply whatever rules you like. Similarly, for this basic example _methodHelp() returns the docstring of the function, but could be written to build a help string from another source.

This client queries the server and reports on all of the publicly callable methods.

import xmlrpclib

proxy = xmlrpclib.ServerProxy('http://localhost:9000')
for method_name in proxy.system.listMethods():
    print '=' * 60
    print method_name
    print '-' * 60
    print proxy.system.methodHelp(method_name)
    print

Notice that the system methods are included in the results.

$ python SimpleXMLRPCServer_introspection_client.py
============================================================
list
------------------------------------------------------------
list(dir_name) => [<filenames>]

Returns a list containing the contents of the named directory.

============================================================
system.listMethods
------------------------------------------------------------
system.listMethods() => ['add', 'subtract', 'multiple']

Returns a list of the methods supported by the server.

============================================================
system.methodHelp
------------------------------------------------------------
system.methodHelp('add') => "Adds two integers together"

Returns a string containing documentation for the specified method.

============================================================
system.methodSignature
------------------------------------------------------------
system.methodSignature('add') => [double, int, int]

Returns a list describing the signature of the method. In the
above example, the add method takes two integers as arguments
and returns a double result.

This server does NOT support system.methodSignature.

See also

SimpleXMLRPCServer
Standard library documentation for this module.
XML-RPC How To
Describes how to use XML-RPC to implement clients and servers in a variety of languages.
XML-RPC Extensions
Specifies an extension to the XML-RPC protocol.
xmlrpclib
XML-RPC client library
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