Authors:Toshio Kuratomi Luke Macken
Date:28 May 2008
For Version:0.3.x

The client module allows you to easily code an application that talks to a Fedora Service. It handles the details of decoding the data sent from the Service into a python data structure and raises an Exception if an error is encountered.


The BaseClient class is the basis of all your interactions with the server. It is flexible enough to be used as is for talking with a service but is really meant to be subclassed and have methods written for it that do the things you specifically need to interact with the Fedora Service you care about. Authors of a Fedora Service are encouraged to provide their own subclasses of BaseClient that make it easier for other people to use a particular Service out of the box.

Using Standalone

If you don’t want to subclass, you can use BaseClient as a utility class to talk to any Fedora Service. There’s three steps to this. First you import the BaseClient and Exceptions from the fedora.client module. Then you create a new BaseClient with the URL that points to the root of the Fedora Service you’re interacting with. Finally, you retrieve data from a method on the server. Here’s some code that illustrates the process:

from fedora.client import BaseClient, AppError, ServerError

client = BaseClient('https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb')
    collectionData = client.send_request('/collections', auth=False)
except ServerError, e:
    print '%s' % e
except AppError, e:
    print '%s: %s' % (e.name, e.message)

for collection in collectionData['collections']:
    print collection['name'], collection['version']

BaseClient Constructor

In our example we only provide BaseClient() with the URL fragment it uses as the base of all requests. There are several more optional parameters that can be helpful.

If you need to make an authenticated request you can specify the username and password to use when you construct your BaseClient using the username and password keyword arguments. If you do not use these, authenticated requests will try to connect via a cookie that was saved from previous runs of BaseClient. If that fails as well, BaseClient will throw an Exception which you can catch in order to prompt for a new username and password:

from fedora.client import BaseClient, AuthError
import getpass
client = BaseClient('https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb',
        username='foo', password='bar')
# Note this is simplistic.  It only prompts once for another password.
# Your application may want to loop through this several times.
while (count < MAX_RETRIES):
        collectionData = client.send_request('/collections', auth=True)
    except AuthError, e:
        client.password = getpass.getpass('Retype password for %s: ' % username)
        # data retrieved or we had an error unrelated to username/password
    count = count + 1


Note that although you can set the username and password as shown above you do have to be careful in cases where your application is multithreaded or simply processes requests for more than one user with the same BaseClient. In those cases, you can accidentally overwrite the username and password between two requests. To avoid this, make sure you instantiate a separate BaseClient for every thread of control or for every request you handle or use ProxyClient instead.

The useragent parameter is useful for identifying in log files that your script is calling the server rather than another. The default value is Fedora BaseClient/VERSION where VERSION is the version of the BaseClient module. If you want to override this just give another string to this:

client = BaseClient('https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb',
        useragent='Package Database Client/1.0')

The debug parameter turns on a little extra output when running the program. Set it to true if you’re having trouble and want to figure out what is happening inside of the BaseClient code.


send_request() is what does the heavy lifting of making a request of the server, receiving the reply, and turning that into a python dictionary. The usage is pretty straightforward.

The first argument to send_request() is method. It contains the name of the method on the server. It also has any of the positional parameters that the method expects (extra path information interpreted by the server for those building non-TurboGears applications).

The auth keyword argument is a boolean. If True, the session cookie for the user is sent to the server. If this fails, the username and password are sent. If that fails, an Exception is raised that you can handle in your code.

req_params contains a dictionary of additional keyword arguments for the server method. These would be the names and values returned via a form if it was a CGI. Note that parameters passed as extra path information should be added to the method argument instead.

An example:

import BaseClient
client = BaseClient('https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb/')
client.send_request('/package/name/python-fedora', auth=False,
        req_params={'collectionVersion': '9', 'collectionName': 'Fedora'})

In this particular example, knowing how the server works, /packages/name/ defines the method that the server is going to invoke. python-fedora is a positional parameter for the name of the package we’re looking up. auth=False means that we’ll try to look at this method without having to authenticate. The req_params sends two additional keyword arguments: collectionName which specifies whether to filter on a single distro or include Fedora, Fedora EPEL, Fedora OLPC, and Red Hat Linux in the output and collectionVersion which specifies which version of the distribution to output for.

The URL constructed by BaseClient to the server could be expressed as[#]_:


In previous releases of python-fedora, there would be one further query parameter: tg_format=json. That parameter instructed the server to return the information as JSON data instead of HTML. Although this is usually still supported in the server, BaseClient has deprecated this method. Servers should be configured to use an Accept header to get this information instead. See the JSON output section of the Fedora Service documentation for more information about the server side.


Building a client using subclassing builds on the information you’ve already seen inside of BaseClient. You might want to use this if you want to provide a module for third parties to access a particular Fedora Service. A subclass can provide a set of standard methods for calling the server instead of forcing the user to remember the URLs used to access the server directly.

Here’s an example that turns the previous calls into the basis of a python API to the Fedora Package Database:

import getpass
import sys
from fedora.client import BaseClient, AuthError

class MyClient(BaseClient):
    def __init__(self, baseURL='https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb',
            username=None, password=None,
            useragent='Package Database Client/1.0', debug=None):
        super(BaseClient, self).__init__(baseURL, username, password,
                useragent, debug)

    def collection_list(self):
        '''Return a list of collections.'''
        return client.send_request('/collection')

    def package_owners(self, package, collectionName=None,
        '''Return a mapping of release to owner for this package.'''
        pkgData = client.send_request('/packages/name/%s' % (package),
                {'collectionName': collectionName,
                'collectionVersion': collectionVersion})
        ownerMap = {}
        for listing in pkgData['packageListings']:
                    listing['collection']['version'])] = \
        return ownerMap

A few things to note:

  1. In our constructor we list a default baseURL and useragent. This is usually a good idea as we know the URL of the Fedora Service we’re connecting to and we want to know that people are using our specific API.
  2. Sometimes we’ll want methods that are thin shells around the server methods like collection_list(). Other times we’ll want to do more post processing to get specific results as package_owners() does. Both types of methods are valid if they fit the needs of your API. If you find yourself writing more of the latter, though, you may want to consider getting a new method implemented in the server that can return results more appropriate to your needs as it could save processing on the server and bandwidth downloading the data to get information that more closely matches what you need.

See pydoc fedora.accounts.fas2 for a module that implements a standard client API for the Fedora Account System

Handling Errors

BaseClient will throw a variety of errors that can be caught to tell you what kind of error was generated.


 The base of all exceptions raised by BaseClient. If your code needs to catch any of the listed errors then you can catch that to do so.
ServerError:Raised if there’s a problem communicating with the service. For instance, if we receive an HTML response instead of JSON.
AuthError:If something happens during authentication, like an invalid usernsme or password, AuthError will be raised. You can catch this to prompt the user for a new usernsme.
AppError:If there is a server side error when processing a request, the Fedora Service can alert the client of this by setting certain flags in the response. BaseClient will see these flags and raise an AppError. The name of the error will be stored in AppError’s name field. The error’s message will be stored in message.


Here’s an example of the exceptions in action:

from fedora.client import ServerError, AuthError, AppError, BaseClient
import getpass

client = BaseClient('https://admin.fedoraproject.org/pkgdb')
for retry in range(0, MAXRETRIES):
        collectionData = client.send_request('/collections', auth=True)
    except AuthError, e:
        client.username = raw_input('Username: ').strip()
        client.password = getpass.getpass('Password: ')
    except ServerError, e:
        print 'Error talking to the server: %s' % e
    except AppError, e:
        print 'The server issued the following exception: %s: %s' % (
                e.name, e.message)

    for collection in collectionData['collections']:
        print collection['name'], collection['version']