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Simple python webserver than allows embedded Python in the HTML


Simple web server that demonstrates how to build a system thata embeds Python in HTML as well as shows how browser/server interactions work for HEAD, GET and POST requests using HTTP or HTTPS. It can be customized using plugins.

This is an all-in-one solution. You do not need to separate out your server from your code and you do not need a web server gateway interface (WSGI). Just run this single program with a custom plugin or use the default plugin.

It is not replacement for production systems. It is more of a demonstration project that shows how all of the pieces fit together.

You can use it as a starting point to create a custom web server for handling specific requests or for improving your understanding of how web servers work but don't try to use it for any production work unless it is for a simple, low traffic site.

It is very easy to use, simply run it and it will start serving content from the current directory. To get a feeling for the features available point it to the www directory that is included in the repository.

$ ./ --webdir www

This will start up an HTTP server listening on port 8080 for the local host using the current directory as the root of the web directory handling requests with the built in default request handler.

You can then view the output using favorite browser:

$ firefox localhost:8080

This is what it will look like:


See the specific examples in the help below for more usage details.

One interesting feature of the default plug-in is that it allows you to embed python directoy in your HTML. For a custom system you may want to get rid of the other features and just keep this one.

Python Embedded in HTML

You can embed python code directly in your HTML and the default plug-in will process it. This allows dynamic web pages to be created.

Here is a very simple example of how it works.

<!-- python
  params = locals()
  params['title'] = 'Title of Page'
  params['arg1'] = 'foo'
  params['arg2'] = 42
    <meta charset="utf-8">
     arg1 = {arg1}
     arg2 = {arg2}

As you can see, the python code defines the values of variables that used in the HTML.

The format of the variables is the same that used for string.format() operations (string.Formatter objects) so they are very flexible.

The embedded python can also reference other files. Here is an example of how that works:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<!-- python
  # Define the variables used on the page using
  # the full power of python.
  # The params dictionary is defined by the
  # request handler.
  import datetime
  import os
  import sys
  def read_file(params, ifn):
    Read a file.
      ifn = os.path.join(params['sysdir'], ifn)
      with open(ifn, 'r') as ifp:
    except IOError as exc:
      return 'Read failed for {0}: {1!r}.'.format(ifn, exc)
  params = locals()
  params['page_header'] = read_file(params, 'page_header.html')
  params['page_footer'] = read_file(params, 'page_footer.html')
  params['title'] = 'Template Test of Embedded Python'
  # This is referenced by the page_header after the substitution.
  params['date'] ='%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S')
  params['python_version'] = 'Python {0}.{1}.{2}'.format(sys.version_info[0],
  data = ''
  for i in range(5):
     data += '   {0} Count {0}\n'.format(i)
  params['data'] = data[:-1]  # strip the last new line
  params['top'] = '<a href="/">Top</a>'
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>Template Test</title>
    <link rel="icon" type="image/png" href="/webserver.png">
    <link href="/webserver.css" rel="stylesheet">
    <script src="/webserver.js"></script>
    <!-- page header (references {title} and {date}) -->
    <!-- page body -->
Loop Data

Session Id: {sid}
    <!-- page footer -->

The python code will be left justified automatically but other than that it must have proper indenting.

This is what the resulting page looks like:


This is what the raw page looks like:


The following variables are available to embedded python code.

HTML Variable Python Variable Description
{sid} params['sid'] The unique session id. Can be used to identify unique users.
{sysdir} params['sysdir'] The system directory path (ex. opt/webdir/www/templates).
Used to construct file names for reading nested files.
{sysfile} params['sysfile'] The system file path (ex. /opt/webdir/www/templates/example.html).
{urldir} params['urldir'] The URL directory path (ex. /templates).
{urlfile} params['urlfile'] The URL file path (ex. /templates/example.html).
{urlprefix} params['urlprefix'] the protocol, domain and port in URL format (ex. http://localhost:8080)

You are not limited to these. You can define your own in the embedded python code as shown in the previous examples.

Example 1. Getting Help

There is a lot of help available from the program itself.

$ ./ --help

Example 2: HTTP server for current directory.

This shows the basic usage. It will create a server that allows you to browse the current directory.

$ ./

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox http://localhost:8080

Example 3: HTTPS server for current directory on port 8443.

This shows how to run server as an HTTPS server using a self-signed certificate.

$ # Create the self signed certificate.
$ openssl req \
     -subj '/CN=localhost/O=My Organization LTD/C=US/ST=Washington/L=Seattle' \
     -new -newkey rsa:2048 -days 365 -nodes -x509 -sha256 \
     -keyout server.key -out server.crt
$ cat server.crt server.key >server.pem
$ ./ --https --cert ./server.pem --port 8443

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox http://localhost:8443

Example 4: HTTP server for a project directory.

This shows how to run the server for a specific project directory.

$ ./ --webdir /opt/projects/mysite/www

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox http://localhost:8080

Example 5: Daemon HTTP server for a project directory.

This shows how to run the server as daemon. For a production system you would probably want to use something likesystemd or supervisord to daemonize the process.

$ ./ \
      --webdir /opt/projects/mysite/www \
      --daemonize \
      --log-file /opt/projects/mysite/log/webserver.log \
      --pid-file /opt/projects/mysite/log/

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox http://localhost:8080

Example 6: HTTP server for a project directory with custom plugin.

This example shows how to create a plugin using the -g (--generate) option and use it. You can customize it to add all sorts of behavior.

$ mkdir -p /opt/projects/mysite/src
$ ./ -g >/opt/projects/mysite/src/  # create the plug in
$ edit /opt/projects/mysite/src/  # customize it
$ ./ \
      --webdir /opt/projects/mysite/www \
      --plugin /opt/projects/mysite/src/ \
      --extra 'plugin_param1=foobar'

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox http://localhost:8080

Example 7: Full blown example for daemonized HTTPS server.

This is what a full blown example of a daemonized HTTPS server might look.

$ ./ \
      --webdir /opt/projects/mysite/www \
      --plugin /opt/projects/mysite/src/ \
      --https \
      --cert /opt/projects/mysite/www/server.pem \
      --port 8443 \
      --daemonize \
      --log-file /opt/projects/mysite/log/webserver.log \
      --pid-file /opt/projects/mysite/log/

Example 8. Full blown example of an HTTPS server for a service like systemd.

This example shows how you might run the webserver under a process management tool like systemd or supervisord.

$ ./ \
      --webdir /opt/projects/mysite/www \
      --plugin /opt/projects/mysite/src/ \
      --https \
      --cert /opt/projects/mysite/www/server.pem \
      --port 8443

Example 9. Show how templates work.

This example shows how templates work by filling three variables on the command line.

$ ./ --webdir www -L debug

$ # client - in another window
$ firefox "http://localhost:8080/templates/test.tmpl?title=Templates&arg1=foo&arg2=42"

You can also define the variable values directly in the template or HTML code by embedding python. Here is how you would define the variables for the example above.

<!-- python
  params = locals()
  params['title'] = 'Page Title'
  params['arg1'] = 'foo'
  params['arg2'] = 42

Embedded python code can do much more than simply substitution because it can use the full power of python. See www/template/example.html for an example.

Example 10. Redirection.

This example shows how redirection works in the default plugin. It recognizes the http://localhost:8080/redirect/to/ and then redirects to the specified internal or external URL. An external url is defined by a '/http/' or '/https/' prefix.

$ ./ --webdir www -L debug

$ # client - in another window --> external,
$ firefox "http://localhost:8080/redirect/to/https/"

$ # client - in another window --> internal, /webserver.html
$ firefox "http://localhost:8080/redirect/to/webserver.html"


Plugins are python modules that implement a callback function from the server request handler. They provide you with complete control over how the request data is processed. You can execute programs, access databases, recognize dummy URLs, deal GET/POST data, fill in templates among other things.

The default callback function name is request_handler(req) but you can use another name if you wish. It accepts a single argument: the request object which is derived from the SimpleHTTPServer.SimpleHTTPRequestHandler). It has three additional functions that let you access the server logger and the server options where req is the request object:

  1. req.ws_get_logger() - get the server logging object
  2. req.ws_get_opts() - get the server options object
  3. req.ws_get_url_prefix() - get the URL prefix

To see how to access the options take a look at the webserver_info() function in the default_request_handler in

To see how to create custom URLs look at the special_case() function.

To see how templates work look at the templates() function.

You can create a plugin using the -g (or --generate) option. That is the default plugin that is used if a custom plugin is not specified.


The test subdirectory contains tests in the script. You must have curl and wget installed for the tests to work.

To run the tests type: "./ 2>&1|tee test.log". That will run the tests and capture the output in test.log. If all of the tests pass you will see a summary that looks like this:

# ================================================================ #
# Done                                                             #
# ================================================================ #
   Passed:   9
   Failed:   0  
   Total:    9


These are the options that available.

Short Long Description
-c FILE --cert FILE Certificate file for HTTPS.
-d --daemonize Daemonize the server.
You must specify --log-file and --pid-file.
You would normally not use this on a production system. Instead you would use process management servers like systemd or supervisord.
Default=False (console mode).
-e ENTRY --entry ENTRY The entry point for the plug-in module (--plugin).
Thhe function accepts a single argument: the request object.
-g --generate Generate the default plug-in module to stdout and exit.
You can use it to bootstrap a custom plug-in.
-h --help Detailed help message.
-H NAME --host NAME The host name. It can also be an IP address.
           | --https                  | HTTPS mode.<br>Default=`False` (HTTP mode).

-l FILE | --log-file FILE | The log file.
Default=None (no file). -L LEVEL | --log-level LEVEL | Define the logging level.
Choices=notset, debug, info, warning, error, critical.
Default=info. | --log-count COUNT | The maximum number of rollover log files.
Default=4. | --log-format FORMAT | The log format from the python logging module.
Default='%(asctime)s %(filename)s %(levelname)-7s %(lineno)5d %(message)s'. | --log-size SIZE | The maximum log file size before rollover.
Acceptable suffixes: k=KB, m=MB, g=GB
Default=10m. -p PORT | --port PORT | Port. Must be in the range [1..65535].
Default=8080. -P MODULE | --plugin MODULE | Python plugin module. It is the path to a .py file.
Default=None (no plugin). -q FILE | --pid-file FILE | PID file using when daemonizing the process.
Default=None (no PID file). -V | --version | Display the program version number and exit. -w DIR | --webdir DIR | The web root directory.
Default=. (current directory). -x STRING | --extra STRING | Extra arguments for a custom plugin.
You can have as many extra arguments as you want. The interpretation is up to the plug-in. The default plug-in ignores them.


This is list of TODO items.

  1. Convert to support python 3.
  2. Write an example that shows how to manage a login using the session id.
  3. Both the username and password are hashed. Nothing is stored in plaintext.
  4. The hashed values are stored in a local JSON file.
  5. The server loads the username and password hash data from the file when a login is requested.
  6. Successful login is denote by a cookie.

Final Thoughts

I wrote this tool as a demonstration project to help me understand how to use python to create a web server that can do cool things.

I hope that you find it helpful.


Simple python webserver that allows embedded Python in the HTML







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