[Twisted-Python] Re: clients of perspective brokers

David Bolen db3l at fitlinxx.com
Mon Mar 7 19:37:10 EST 2005

Joachim Boomberschloss <boomberschloss at yahoo.com> writes:

> Also, it is unclear to me how reconnection works for
> perspective broker clients. If a connection is dropped
> by the server, and then a clients tries to make a
> method call on a remote object, will the client
> factory try to reconnect before making the request, or
> will the request fail, and re-connection be attempted
> the next time, etc.?

There are no automatic reconnects by default.  Additionally once you
have lost a connection, all existing references held by the client to
objects on the server will be invalid from that point on.

There is a general purpose ReconnectingClientFactory in the
twisted.internet.protocols module, but it only handles making the
basic socket reconnection, and not any higher level re-establishment
of protocol communication.  There was also some work on a more
persistent remote reference scheme (in the sturdy module).

The problem with handling reconnects is that PB object references are
only good for a particular session (since they match up with broker
object dictionaries that are part of the remote protocol instance and
go away when the session drops).  So even if you re-establish the raw
PB connection, none of the object references previously held by the
client will be valid any longer.  Even the sturdy module only seemed
to work for the root object and not other random references held by
the application.  Back when I was looking to solve the same issue, I
didn't really find anything suitable in the twisted code base itself.

So it's mostly up to your application to handle these sorts of
scenarios.  To be honest though, since your application knows the most
about how it is using references and objects, it can often have the
simplest implementation.

For example, in our application we make use of a registry of
components, and when distributing the application, the client starts
with a remote registry (a Referenceable), and then retrieves remote
component references (also Referenceables) for any component they
interact with.  Pretty much everything else is a normal remote copy (a
Copyable rather than Referenceable).  So the registry and components
provided a great control point to handle network outages.  Also, the
components whose references are long lived in the client (and who we
care about maintaining across an outage) are independent of the remote
session - that is they exist independently on the server.  So recovery
from loss of a network connection is simply re-accessing the prior
remote component.  That makes handling such outages in a transparent
manner fairly straight forward since we can use the original
connection information to perform a reconnect without re-involving
high level application code.

We ended up with  three main parts to the recovery system:

* A remote registry wrapper that works just like a local registry but
  automatically wraps references to remote components in a component wrapper.
* A remote component wrapper that handles wrapping a remote reference both
  to control method access (so we can specially handle some methods locally)
  but also to isolate the application from directly holding onto a PB
  reference for the remote component object.
* Our own PBClientFactory subclass that handles connectivity issues, and
  automatically wraps a reference to a remote registry (which is obtained
  through our Root object) in the remote registry wrapper.

In addition, we tie them together with various signals (currently
using the pyDispatcher package).

A client app starts with the client factory, which knows how to
connect, reconnect after a failure (with a prescribed retry timing
mechanism), periodically ping the remote root object for a live
session, and emit signals when the connection goes up or down.  The
application asks the client factory for the remote registry, and gets
back a remote registry wrapper.  Since the wrapper operates as a local
registry, the application code can work locally or remotely.  If the
client factory sees the connection drop, once it reconnects, it emits
a connection signal which includes the new registry wrapper.

The client factory also gives us a good place to perform a series of
steps we need to do with the remote root object in order to get access
to the remote registry, providing for those operations to complete
before giving the registry back to the application either during
initial connection (through a waiting deferred) or on a reconnect (via
the connection signal).

The remote component wrappers (which also include the remote registry
wrapper) handle the low level potential for failures.  The wrapper
handles failures during any PB request (both DeadReferenceError and
PBConnectionLost) and in addition to passing up the error, it emits
its own signal for a failed request.  The client factory listens for
such signals, which it uses to initiate an immediate ping test - which
in turn can lead to notifying the entire system that the connection is

We did patch our Twisted so the DeadReferenceError was returned as a
deferred rather than raised inline.  But once everything centralized
around the remote wrappers, technically that became unnecessary
because that's the only place (aside from the client factory) that
issues the callRemote call, so it's not that hard to handle both the
local exception or the deferred error.

In the other direction, the wrappers all listen for the client
factory's connected signal, and upon receipt, they use the supplied
remote registry to re-query the component they wrap (information on
which they saved when created) in order to get a new remote reference.
Because all of the higher level application code is holding a
reference (Python-wise) to the wrapper object and not the PB
reference, we can adjust to a new reference inside the wrapper without
anything in the application being the wiser or needing to change.

Having the network connect/disconnect signals from the client factory
also permits any other part of the application to perform certain
operations during an outage (so sometimes at our top level UI we'll
put up a "temporary outage" message during downtime).

While this is fairly specific to our environment, it lets us take an
application that is running locally, and with a single change to get
its registry from our client factory instead of locally, everything
works remotely, including automatic reconnects and re-establishment of
all remote object references.  Hopefully detailing some of the steps
might help you envision how to do something similar for your

-- David

More information about the Twisted-Python mailing list