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gRPC Python Server Reflection

This document shows how to use gRPC Server Reflection in gRPC Python. Please see C++ Server Reflection Tutorial for general information and more examples how to use server reflection.

Enable server reflection in Python servers

gRPC Python Server Reflection is an add-on library. To use it, first install the grpcio-reflection PyPI package into your project.

Note that with Python you need to manually register the service descriptors with the reflection service implementation when creating a server (this isn't necessary with e.g. C++ or Java)

# add the following import statement to use server reflection
from grpc_reflection.v1alpha import reflection
# ...
def serve():
    server = grpc.server(futures.ThreadPoolExecutor(max_workers=10))
    helloworld_pb2_grpc.add_GreeterServicer_to_server(Greeter(), server)
    # the reflection service will be aware of "Greeter" and "ServerReflection" services.
    SERVICE_NAMES = (
        helloworld_pb2.DESCRIPTOR.services_by_name['Greeter'].full_name,
        reflection.SERVICE_NAME,
    )
    reflection.enable_server_reflection(SERVICE_NAMES, server)
    server.add_insecure_port('[::]:50051')
    server.start()

Please see greeter_server_with_reflection.py in the examples directory for the full example, which extends the gRPC Python Greeter example on a reflection-enabled server.

After starting the server, you can verify that the server reflection is working properly by using the grpc_cli command line tool:

 $ grpc_cli ls localhost:50051

output:

grpc.reflection.v1alpha.ServerReflection
helloworld.Greeter

For more examples and instructions how to use the grpc_cli tool, please refer to the grpc_cli documentation and the C++ Server Reflection Tutorial.

Use Server Reflection in a Python client

Server Reflection can be used by clients to get information about gRPC services at runtime. We've provided a descriptor database called ProtoReflectionDescriptorDatabase which implements the DescriptorDatabase interface. It manages the communication between clients and reflection services and the storage of received information. Clients can use it as using a local descriptor database.

  • To use Server Reflection with ProtoReflectionDescriptorDatabase, first initialize an instance with a channel.

    import grpc
    from grpc_reflection.v1alpha.proto_reflection_descriptor_database import ProtoReflectionDescriptorDatabase
    
    channel = grpc.secure_channel(server_address, creds)
    reflection_db = ProtoReflectionDescriptorDatabase(channel)
  • Then use this instance to feed a DescriptorPool.

    from google.protobuf.descriptor_pool import DescriptorPool
    
    desc_pool = DescriptorPool(reflection_db)
  • Example usage of this descriptor pool:

    • Get Service/method descriptors.

      service_desc = desc_pool.FindServiceByName("helloworld.Greeter")
      method_desc = service_desc.FindMethodByName("helloworld.Greeter.SayHello")
    • Get message type descriptors and create messages dynamically.

      request_desc = desc_pool.FindMessageTypeByName("helloworld.HelloRequest")
      request = MessageFactory(desc_pool).GetPrototype(request_desc)()
  • You can also use the Reflection Database to list all the services:

    services = reflection_db.get_services()

Additional Resources

The Server Reflection Protocol provides detailed information about how the server reflection works and describes the server reflection protocol in detail.