Manually creating and passing connections to Redis can be tough. Not only do we need to repeatedly refer to configuration information, but if we’re using our configuration management functions from the last section, we still need to fetch the configuration, connect to Redis, and somehow deal with the connection when we’re done. To simplify the management of all of these connections, we’ll write a decorator that will take care of connecting to all of our Redis servers (except for the configuration server).
DECORATORSWithin Python there’s a syntax for passing a function X into another function Y. This function Y is called a decorator. Decorators are given an opportunity to alter the behavior of function X. Some decorators validate arguments, other decorators register callbacks, and even others manage connections like we intend to.
Our decorator will take a named configuration as an argument, which will generate a wrapper that, when called on the actual function, will wrap the function such that later calls will automatically connect to the appropriate Redis server, and that connection will be passed to the wrapped function with all of the other arguments that were later provided. The next listing has the source for our redis_connection() function.
COMBINING *args AND **kwargsWay back in chapter 1, we first looked at default arguments in Python. But here, we’re combining two different forms of argument passing. If you’re having difficulty understanding what’s going on (which is essentially capturing all positional and named arguments in the args and kwargs variables in the function definition, and passing all positional and named parameters to the called function), then you should spend some time with the Python language tutorial via this shortened URL: http://mng.bz/KM5x.
I know that this group of nested functions can be confusing at first, but it really isn’t that bad. We have a function, redis_connection(), that takes the named application component and returns a wrapper function. That wrapper function is then called with the function we want to pass a connection to (the wrapped function), which then returns the function caller. This caller handles all of the work of getting configuration information, connecting to Redis, and calling our wrapped function. Though it’s a mouthful to describe, actually using it is convenient, as you can see by applying it in the next listing to our log_recent() function from section 5.1.1.
DECORATORSIn addition to the strange argument passing with *args and **kwargs from listing 5.16, we’re also using syntax to “decorate” the log function. That is to say, we pass a function to a decorator, which performs some manipulation on the function before returning the original function, or something else. You can read up on the details of what’s going on and why at http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0318/.
Now that you’ve seen how to use the redis_connection() decorator on log_recent(), it doesn’t seem so bad, does it? With this better method of handling connections and configuration, we’ve just removed a handful of lines from almost every function that we’ll be calling. As an exercise, try to add this decorator to the access_time() context manager from section 5.2.3 so that we don’t need to pass a connection. Feel free to reuse this decorator with all of the other examples in the book.