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WSGI request delegation. (AKA routing.)

$ pip install selector


This distribution provides WSGI middleware for "RESTful" dispatch of requests to WSGI applications by URL path and HTTP request method. Selector now also comes with components for environ-based dispatch and on-the-fly middleware composition. There is a very simple optional mini-language for path matching expressions. Alternately we can easily use regular expressions directly or even create our own mini-language. There is a simple "mapping file" format that can be used. There are no architecture specific features (to MVC or whatever). Neither are there any framework specific features.

Quick Start

import selector

app = selector.Selector()
app.add('/resource/{id}', GET=wsgi_handler)

If you have ever designed a REST protocol you have probably made a table that looks something like this:

POST Create a new foo with id == {id}.
GET Retrieve the foo with id == {id}.
PUT Update the foo with id == {id}.
DELETE Delete the foo with id == {id}.

Selector was designed to fit mappings of this kind.

Lets suppose that we are creating a very simple app. The only requirement is that responds with a simple page that says hello to Guido (where "Guido" can actually be any name at all). The interface of this extremely useful service looks like:

GET Say hello to {name}.

Here's the code for

from selector import Selector

def say_hello(environ, start_response):
    args, kwargs = environ['wsgiorg.routing_args']
    start_response("200 OK", [('Content-type', 'text/plain')])
    return ["Hello, %s!" % kwargs['name']]
app = Selector()
app.add('/myapp/hello/{name}', GET=say_hello)

Run it with Green Unicorn:

$ gunicorn myapp:app

Of course, you can use Selector in any WSGI environment.

How It Works

When a route is added, the path expression is converted into a regular expression. (You can also use regexes directly.) When the Selector instance receives a request, it checks each regex until a match is found. If no match is found, the request is passed to Selector.status404. Otherwise, it modifies the environ to store some information about the match and looks up the dict of HTTP request methods associated with the regex. If the HTTP method is not found in the dict, the request is passed to Selector.status405. Otherwise, the request is passed to the WSGI handler associated with the HTTP method.

Path Expressions

As you probably noticed, you can capture named portions of the path into environ['wsgiorg.routing_args']. (They also get put into environ['selector.vars'], but that is deprecated in favor of a routing args standard.)

You can also capture things positionally:.

def show_tag(environ, start_response):
    args, kwargs = environ['wsgiorg.routing_args']
    user = kwargs['user']
    tag = args[0]
    # ...

s.add('/myapp/{user}/tags/{}', GET=show_tag)

Selector supports a number of datatypes for your routing args, specified like this: {VARNAME:DATATYPE} or just {:DATATYPE}.

type regex
word \w+
alpha [a-zA-Z]+
digits \d+
number \d*.?\d+
chunk [^/^.]+
segment [^/]+
any .+

These types work for both named and positional routing args:

s.add('/collection/{:digits}/{docname:chunk}.{filetype:chunk}', GET=foo)

(You can even add your own types with just a name and a regex, but we will get to that in a moment.)

Parts of the URL path can also be made optional using [square brackets.]

s.add("/required-part[/optional-part]", GET=any_wsgi)

Optional portions in path expressions can be nested.

s.add("/recent-articles[/{topic}[/{subtopic}]][/]", GET=recent_articles)

By default, selector does path consumption, which means the matched portion of the path information is moved from environ['PATH_INFO'] to environ['SCRIPT_NAME'] when routing a request. The matched portion of the path is also appended to a list found or created in environ['selector.matches'], where it is is available to upstack consumers. It's useful in conjunction with open ended path expressions (using the pipe character, |) for recursive dispatch:

def load_book(environ, start_response):
    args, kwargs = environ['wsgiorg.routing_args']
    # load book
    environ[''] = db.get_book(kwargs['book_id'])
    return s(environ, start_response)

def load_chapter(environ, start_response):
    book = environ['']
    args, kwargs = environ['wsgiorg.routing_args']
    chapter = book.chapters[kwargs['chapter_id'])
    # ... send some response

s.add("/book/{book_id}|", GET=load_book)
s.add("/chapter/{chapter_id}", GET=load_chapter)

Plain Regexes, Custom Types and Custom Parsers

You can create your own parser and your own path expression syntax, or use none at all. All you need is a callable that takes the path expression and returns a regex string.

s.parser = lambda x: x
s.add('^\/somepath\/$', GET=foo)

You can add a custom type to the default parser when you instantiate it or by modifying it in place.

parser = selector.SimpleParser(patterns={'mytype': 'MYREGEX'})
assert parser('/{foo:mytype}') == r'^\/(?P<foo>MYREGEX)$'
s.parser.patterns['othertype'] = 'OTHERREGEX'
assert parser('/{foo:othertype}') == r'^\/(?P<foo>OTHERREGEX)$'

Prefix and Wrap

Often you have some common prefix you would like appended to your path expressions automatically when you add routes. You can set that when instantiating selector and change it as you go.

# Add the same page under three prefixes:
s = Selector(prefix='/myapp')
s.add('/somepage', GET=get_page)
s.prefix = '/otherapp'
s.add('/somepage', GET=get_page)
s.add('/somepage', GET=get_page, prefix='/app3')

Selector can automatically wrap the callables you route to. I often use Yaro, which puts WSGI behind a pretty request object.

import selector, yaro  
def say_hello(req):  
    return "Hello, World!"  
s = selector.Selector(wrap=yaro.Yaro)  
s.add('/hello', GET=say_hello) 

Adding Routes

There are basically three ways to add routes.

One at a Time

So far we have been adding routes with .add()

foo_handlers = {'GET': get_foo, 'POST': create_foo}

s.add('/foo', method_dict=foo_handlers)
s.add('/bar', GET=bar_handler)

Notice how POST was overridden for /read-only-foo.

.add() also takes a prefix key word arg.

Slurping up a List

.slurp() will load mapping from a list of tuples, which turns out to be pretty ugly, so you would probably only do this if you were building the list programmatically. (... like, if parsing your own URL mapping file format, for instance.)

routes = [('/foo', {'GET': foo}),
          ('/bar', {'GET': bar})]
s = Selector(mappings=routes)
# or

.slurp() takes the keyword args prefix, parser and wrap...

Mapping Files

Selector supports a sweet URL mapping file format.

    GET somemodule:some_wsgi_app  
    POST pak.subpak.mod:other_wsgi_app  
@prefix /myapp  
@wrap yaro:Yaro

    GET module:app  
    POST package.module:get_app('foo')  
    PUT package.module:FooApp('hello', resolve('module:setting'))  
@parser :lambda x: x  
@wrap :lambda x: x  

    GET mod:regex_mapped_app

This format is read line by line.

  • Blank lines and lines starting with # as their first non-whitespace characters are ignored.
  • Directives start with @ and modulate route adding behavior.
  • Path expressions come on their own line and have no leading whitespace
  • HTTP method -> handler mappings are indented

There are three directives: @prefix, @parser and @wrap, and they do what you think they do. The @parser and @wrap directives take resolver statements. Handlers are resolver statements too. HTTP method to handler mappings are applied to the preceding path expression.

Files of this format can be used in the following ways.

s = Selector(mapfile='map1.urls')

Selector.slurp_file() supports optional prefix, parser and wrap keyword arguments, too.

Initializing a Selector

All the functionality is covered above, but, to summarize the init signature:

    def __init__(self,

Customizing 404s and 405s and Chain Dispatchers

You can replace Selector's 404 and 405 handlers. They're just WSGI.

s = Selector()
s.status404 = my_404_wsgi
s.status405 = my_405_wsgi

You could chain Selector instances together, or fall through to other types of dispachers or any handler at all really.

s1 = Selector(mapfile='map1.urls')
s2 = Selector(mapfile='map2.urls')
s1.status404 = s2

Environ Dispatcher

EnvironDispatcher routes a request based on the environ. It's instantiated with a list of (predicate, wsgi_app) pairs. Each predicate is a callable that takes one argument (environ) and returns True or False. When called, the instance iterates through the pairs until it finds a predicate that returns True and runs the app paired with it.

is_admin = lambda env: 'admin' in env['session']['roles'] 
is_user = lambda env: 'user' in env['session']['roles'] 
default = lambda env: True

rules = [(is_admin, admin_screen), (is_user, user_screen), (default,

envdis = EnvironDispatcher(rules)

s = Selector()
s.add('/user-info/{username}[/]', GET=envdis)

Middleware Composer

Another WSGI middleware included in selector allows us compose middleware on the fly (compose as in function composition) in a similar way. MiddlewareComposer also is instantiated with a list of rules, only instead of WSGI apps you have WSGI middleware. When called, the instance applies all the middlewares whose predicates are true for environ in reverse order, and calls the resulting app.

lambda x: True; f = lambda x: False
rules = [(t, a), (f, b), (t, c), (f, d), (t, e)]
composed = MiddlewareComposer(app, rules)

s = Selector()
s.add('/endpoint[/]', GET=composed)

is equivalent to


Routing Args in Callable Signatures

There are some experimental, somewhat old decorators in Selector that facilitate putting your routing args into the signatures of your callables.

from selector import pliant, opliant  
def app(environ, start_response, arg1, arg2, foo='bar'):  
class App(object):  
    def __call__(self, environ, start_response, arg1, arg2, foo='bar'):  

Exposing Callables

Selector now provides classes for naked object and HTTP method to object method based dispatch, for completeness.

from selector import expose, Naked, ByMethod  
class Nude(Naked):  
    # If this were True we would not need expose  
    _expose_all = False  
    list(self, environ, start_response):  
class Methodical(ByMethod):  
    def GET(self, environ, start_response):  
    def POST(self, environ, start_response):  

API Docs

Read Selector's API Docs on Read the Docs.


Selector has 100% unit test coverage, as well as some basic functional tests.

Here is output from a recent run.

luke$ fab test
[localhost] local: which python
Running unit tests with coverage...
[localhost] local: py.test -x --doctest-modules --cov selector
test session starts
platform darwin -- Python 2.6.1 -- pytest-2.1.3
collected 72 items .
tests/ .
tests/ ...
tests/ .
tests/ .
tests/functional/ .
tests/functional/ .
tests/functional/ .....
tests/unit/ .
tests/unit/ .
tests/unit/ ....
tests/unit/ ...
tests/unit/ ..
tests/unit/ ..
tests/unit/ ............
tests/unit/ ...
tests/unit/ ......
tests/unit/ ..
tests/unit/ ...
tests/unit/ .......
tests/unit/ .....
tests/unit/ ...
tests/unit/ ....
----------------------------------------------------------------- coverage:
platform darwin, python 2.6.1-final-0
Name       Stmts   Miss  Cover
selector     261      0   100%

============================================================================ 72
passed in 1.13 seconds
[localhost] local: which python
Running PEP8 checker
No PEP8 violations found! W00t!

Release Management Policy and Versioning

Selector is SemVer compliant.

Release management is codified in the in the release task.


Fork it.

$ git clone

Set yourself up in a virtualenv and list the fab tasks at your disposal. (Requires Virtualenv.)

$ . bootstrap

Run the tests.

(.virt/)$ fab test


Use under MIT or GPL.

Copyright (c) 2006 Luke Arno,


WSGI request delegation. (AKA routing.)



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