Pyramid VocabularyΒΆ

This is a supplement to the Glossary in the Pyramid manual. It focuses on the subset of terms critical for Akhet, and compares them to Pylons.


A Pyramid WSGI application, which is an instance of pyramid.router.Router. Equivalent to PylonsApp.

View (View Callable)

A function or method equivalent to a Pylons controller action. It takes a Request object representing a web request, and returns a Response object. (The return value may be different when using a renderer.)

View Class (Handler)

A class containing view methods, so equivalent to a Pylons controller. If the view is a method rather than a function, the request argument is passed to the class constructor rather than to the method. The pyramid_handlers package offers one Pylons-like way to define and register view classes.


The Model-View-Controller pattern used in programming. Pyramid is more of a MV (Model-View) framework than MVC. Many contemporary web developers have given up on MVC as not being well suited to the web. MVC envisions a three-way split between business logic, user interface, and framework interface, but in practice the latter two are hard to separate. A two-way split is more useful: the model which is all code specific to your business and can be used on its own, and the view which is all code specific to the framework, user interface, and HTTP/HTML environment. (The “controller” then is the framework itself.)

URL Dispatch

A routing mechanism similar to Routes. It chooses a view for each incoming URL based on a set of rules.


Pyramid’s other routing mechanism, which maps the URL’s components to a recursive object-oriented data structure. Traversal is an advanced topic; beginners are advised to stick to URL dispatch at first. Traversal is useful mainly in applications that allow users to define arbitrary URL subtrees, such as a content-management system (CMS) or a web-based file manager. URL dispatch, in contrast, works better when the URLs are known ahead of time or when they’re a fixed depth (e.g., “/articles/{id}”).

If no route matches the URL, Pyramid tries traversal as a fallback. The data structure is null by default, so this is a no-op.


An object accessible to the view, which tells the “context” it was invoked in. This does not exist in Pylons. It’s an additional piece of information distinct from the routing variables, query parameters, and other aspects of the request. It plays an important role in traversal, and in some advanced usages of URL dispatch.

Resource Tree, Root, Resource, Root Factory

These are all used in traversal, and in some advanced usages of URL dispatch.

A resource tree is the data structure that traversal maps the URL to. It’s a recursive dict-like structure. The top-level node is called the root. A root factory is a callable that returns a root; i.e., the top node of a live resource tree. The resource tree is most commonly a ZODB database, but it can also be implemented in SQL or on-the-fly (by a root object with a clever .__getitem__ method that creates child nodes on demand).

If the request URL is “/a/b/c”, traversal maps it to root["a"]["b"]["c"]. The final node (i.e., the value of the “c” key) is called the resource. That object is delivered to the view as the context.

In URL dispatch, a root factory is normally not specified, and it defaults to a null factory which causes the context to be None. However, you can specify a custom root factory at either the top level or on an individual route. In this case, the factory should return a resource which will be the context.


An object which contains all state data pertinent to the current web request and the application runtime. It’s a subclass of WebOb.Request. Its attributes subsume the functionality of several Pylons globals (request, response, session, tmpl_context or c, url), the match dict, query parameters, etc.


An object which specifies what kind of response to return to the user: the HTTP status, HTTP headers, and body content. It’s normally a subclass of WebOb.Response but you can substite any object with the appropriate status, headerlist, and app_iter attributes. A view must return a Response unless it’s using a renderer.


A function that takes a view’s return value as input, and returns a Response. Normally the view returns a dict of data values, and the renderer invokes a template to produce the Response body. Some renderers instead serialize the dict into another format such as JSON.

Event, Subscriber

A mechanism for running arbitrary code at specific points during request processing or during the application’s lifetime. You register subscriber callbacks for specific events, and Pyramid will call those callbacks when those events happen. The callback’s arguments allow access to pertinent state data.

Asset Spec

A fully qualified Python module name or object name, such as the strings “myapp.handlers” or “myapp.handlers:MyHandler”. Many Pyramid methods accept these as arguments in lieu of the actual object. The colon separates the last item to import (a package or module) from the first item to fetch via attribute access (a variable in the module).

Certain methods require an asset spec pointing to a non-Python file or directory inside a Python package. In this case, the right side of the colon is the relative path inside the package, using “/” delimeters regardless of platform. For instance, “myapp:static/” or “myapp.lib:images/logo.png”.


A dict of application configuration settings. This combines:

  • “deployment settings” parsed from the INI file (or passed in by whatever top-level script launches the application).
  • “application settings”, or site-wide constants, set in the main function.
  • “application globals”: data structures, non-SQLAlchemy database connections, a cache object, or other things that are global to all requests. These are also normally set in the main function.


An object that is global to the application and contains internal framework data such as which routes and views have been defined. Application writers generally ignore it except when they need a setting, which are in its .settings attribute.

Previous topic

Introduction to Akhet 2

Next topic

Installing Pyramid and Creating Applications