Writing a twistd Plugin

  1. Goals
  2. A note on .tap files
  3. Alternatives to twistd plugins
  4. Creating the plugin
  5. Using cred with your TAP
  6. Conclusion

This document describes adding subcommands to the twistd command, as a way to facilitate the deployment of your applications. (This feature was added in Twisted 2.5)

The target audience of this document are those that have developed a Twisted application which needs a command line-based deployment mechanism.

There are a few prerequisites to understanding this document:


After reading this document, the reader should be able to expose their Service-using application as a subcommand of twistd, taking into consideration whatever was passed on the command line.

A note on .tap files

Readers may be confused about a historical file type associated with Twisted, the .tap file. This was a kind of file that was generated by a program named mktap and which twistd can read. .tap files are deprecated; this document has nothing to do with them, although the technology described herein is very closely related to the old system. Existing plugins that were written for the mktap system are compatible with this twistd plugin system; the following commands,

$ mktap [foo] [options...]
$ twistd -n -f [foo].tap

are equivalent to the command:

$ twistd -n [foo] [options...]

Alternatives to twistd plugins

The major alternative to the twistd plugin mechanism is the .tac file, which is a simple script to be used with the twistd -y/--python parameter. The twistd plugin mechanism exists to offer a more extensible command-line-driven interface to your application. For more information on .tac files, see the document Using the Twisted Application Framework.

Creating the plugin

The following directory structure is assumed of your project:

  • MyProject - Top level directory
    • myproject - Python package
      • __init__.py

During development of your project, Twisted plugins can be loaded from a special directory in your project, assuming your top level directory ends up in sys.path. Create a directory named twisted containing a directory named plugins, and add a file named myproject_plugin.py to it. This file will contain your plugin. Note that you should not add any __init__.py files to this directory structure, and the plugin file should not be named myproject.py (because that would conflict with your project's module name).

In this file, define an object which provides the interfaces twisted.plugin.IPlugin and twisted.application.service.IServiceMaker.

The tapname attribute of your IServiceMaker provider will be used as the subcommand name in a command like twistd [subcommand] [args...], and the options attribute (which should be a usage.Options subclass) will be used to parse the given args.

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from zope.interface import implements from twisted.python import usage from twisted.plugin import IPlugin from twisted.application.service import IServiceMaker from twisted.application import internet from myproject import MyFactory class Options(usage.Options): optParameters = [["port", "p", 1235, "The port number to listen on."]] class MyServiceMaker(object): implements(IServiceMaker, IPlugin) tapname = "myproject" description = "Run this! It'll make your dog happy." options = Options def makeService(self, options): """ Construct a TCPServer from a factory defined in myproject. """ return internet.TCPServer(int(options["port"]), MyFactory()) # Now construct an object which *provides* the relevant interfaces # The name of this variable is irrelevant, as long as there is *some* # name bound to a provider of IPlugin and IServiceMaker. serviceMaker = MyServiceMaker()

Now running twistd --help should print myproject in the list of available subcommands, followed by the description that we specified in the plugin. twistd -n myproject would, assuming we defined a MyFactory factory inside myproject, start a listening server on port 1235 with that factory.

Using cred with your TAP

Twisted ships with a robust authentication framework to use with your application. If your server needs authentication functionality, and you haven't read about twisted.cred yet, read up on it first.

If you are building a twistd plugin and you want to support a wide variety of authentication patterns, Twisted provides an easy-to-use mixin for your Options subclass: strcred.AuthOptionMixin. The following code is an example of using this mixin:

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from twisted.cred import credentials, portal, strcred from twisted.python import usage from twisted.plugin import IPlugin from twisted.application.service import IServiceMaker from myserver import myservice class ServerOptions(usage.Options, strcred.AuthOptionMixin): # This part is optional; it tells AuthOptionMixin what # kinds of credential interfaces the user can give us. supportedInterfaces = (credentials.IUsernamePassword,) optParameters = [ ["port", "p", 1234, "Server port number"], ["host", "h", "localhost", "Server hostname"]] class MyServerServiceMaker(object): implements(IServiceMaker, IPlugin) tapname = "myserver" description = "This server does nothing productive." options = ServerOptions def makeService(self, options): """Construct a service object.""" # The realm is a custom object that your server defines. realm = myservice.MyServerRealm(options["host"]) # The portal is something Cred can provide, as long as # you have a list of checkers that you'll support. This # list is provided my AuthOptionMixin. portal = portal.Portal(realm, options["credCheckers"]) # OR, if you know you might get multiple interfaces, and # only want to give your application one of them, you # also have that option with AuthOptionMixin: interface = credentials.IUsernamePassword portal = portal.Portal(realm, options["credInterfaces"][interface]) # The protocol factory is, like the realm, something you implement. factory = myservice.ServerFactory(realm, portal) # Finally, return a service that will listen for connections. return internet.TCPServer(int(options["port"]), factory) # As in our example above, we have to construct an object that # provides the IPlugin and IServiceMaker interfaces. serviceMaker = MyServerServiceMaker()

Now that you have your TAP configured to support any authentication we can throw at it, you're ready to use it. Here is an example of starting your server using the /etc/passwd file for authentication. (Clearly, this won't work on servers with shadow passwords.)

$ twistd myserver --auth passwd:/etc/passwd

For a full list of cred plugins supported, see twisted.plugins, or use the command-line help:

$ twistd myserver --help-auth
$ twistd myserver --help-auth-type passwd


You should now be able to

  • Create a twistd plugin
  • Incorporate authentication into your plugin
  • Use it from your development environment
  • Install it correctly and use it in deployment


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