[mod_python] psp_site example doesn't work

Jorey Bump list at joreybump.com
Mon Jan 24 09:12:24 EST 2005

Nicolas Lehuen wrote:
> On Sun, 23 Jan 2005 18:38:43 -0500, Graham Dumpleton
> <grahamd at dscpl.com.au> wrote:

>>Package such as mpservlets and Vampire implement their own module
>>importing mechanisms in order to avoid this problem. Ie., with those
>>packages it is safe to have Python code files which are named the same
>>appearing in different directories managed by mod_python running
>>under the same interpreter.
> We had a discussion a few months ago about this issue, and I still
> think it's a bug. Like Daniel Popovitch with mpservlets and you with
> Vampire, I had to implement my own import mechanism to work around the
> bug. I think it's time to fix it... I'll add a bug report and see what
> we can do about it.

I guess I'm on record as considering this to be normal Python behaviour, 
and not a bug. Talk of modifying Publisher's current import mechanism 
threatens the significant investment I have in the applications I've 
already developed. I'd rather see Publisher left alone, as other 
frameworks are maturing that address this issue.

We should be clear about what we are talking about:


An interpreter imports a module's name into the namespace independent of 
its location in the filesystem.


- This is consistent with normal Python behaviour, where an interpreter 
loads modules from the current directory or PYTHONPATH. [1]

- There is no ambiguity about imports, and no need to rewrite code when 
moving the module to another location.

- The Python language documentation serves as a good resource, as native 
behaviours are not contradicted. [2]

- General purpose code needs *very* little modification to run under 

- The default Python behaviour of caching imported modules can be used 
to great leverage, and plays a significant role in the performance boost 
offered by mod_python. [3]

- With careful planning, per-interpreter package repositories can be 


- This consistently trips up newbies, who are expecting PHP-like 
behaviour from their web applications.

- Within an interpreter (a VirtualHost, for example), such care must be 
taken to create unique module names that porting an application or 
working in a team environment is significantly more fragile than in 
other web technologies, where it usually suffices to throw the code in 
its own directory.

- Although a lot of issues can be addressed in .htaccess files, so much 
configuration occurs at the apache level that it is difficult to use 
mod_python effectively without apache admin privileges. [4]

- The Multi-Processing Modules (MPMs) in apache 2 may have a unique 
effect on an application. After throwing in the different platforms, 
Python versions, and developer styles, it can be very hard to reach a 
consensus on whether an issue even exists.

Possible solution:

Automatically package module based on the file path.


- Hopefully, this would provide better separation of modules in namespace.


- Serious potential to break existing Publisher applications.

- The same module might be loaded into a separate namespace for 
different applications, eliminating the advantage of module caching. [5]

- This encourages the reuse of module names (such as index.py), which is 
considered a bad programming practice in Python. [1]

- If the code assumes and uses a package name based on its location, it 
will need to be rewritten if it is moved.

- The possibility that autopackaging will arbitrarily create a namespace 
clash with a standard module is unacceptably high, especially where 
third party packages are installed.

- It severely limits the ability to test portions of the code from the 
command line, because it adds an element of unpredictability to the 
module search path.

- Seasoned Python programmers might consider mod_python.publisher to be 
"broken" because it doesn't conform to Python standards. [6]

[1] For a clear description of Python's module search path, see: 

[2] The documentation for mod_python is sparse because it simply embeds 
an interpreter in apache. See the Python documentation for programming 
issues: http://www.python.org/doc/current/index.html

[3] This seems to be the main complaint levied against mod_python, in 
one form or the other. I consider it one of it's greatest strengths. For 
example, it allows me to import database handling code from a module 
once for that interpreter, allowing multiple applications to share the 
connection -- a poor man's database pool, if you will.

[4] The same can be said about php.ini, but noone ever needs to restart 
apache to develop PHP applications.

[5] What is the solution to the problems caused by module caching? It 
doesn't make much sense to force mod_python to act like it's spawning a 
new interpreter for every request. Run the app as a CGI instead of using 

[6] The strength of Publisher is that it leverages the advantages of 
Python with very little overhead, simply adding a number of conveniences 
specific to web application development. mod_python.psp is a much better 
area to radically depart from this paradigm, as it is expected to 
provide PHP-like behaviour.

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