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This is the documentation for the Pypubsub project. This Python project defines a package called ‘pubsub’ which provides a publish - subscribe API to facilitate event-based programming and decoupling of components of an application via the Observer pattern. PyPybSub originated in wxPython around y2k but has been standalone since 2006, and has been on PyPI since then. The code was hosted on SourceForget.net from 2007 to 2016, and the code is now hosted on github. The code is very mature and stable. See History for details on its history and Roadmap for possible future work.

Using the Observer pattern in your application can dramatically simplify its design and improve testability. Robin Dunn, the creator of wxPython where the Pypubsub package was born, summerizes Pypubsub nicely:

Basically you just have some part(s) of your program subscribe to a particular topic and have some other part(s) of your program publish messages with that topic. All the plumbing is taken care of by Pypubsub. – Robin Dunn, Jun 2007

The Observer pattern mandates that listeners and senders be mutually “unaware” of each other: which listeners are in the set, how big is the set, “who” sent a message, etc. Basically the Observer pattern is like a radio broadcast: the emitter doesn’t know which radios (receivers) are tuned to a frequency; radios are unaware of other radios; radios don’t know what tower broadcasted a given message, just that the emission frequency is the one that carries information that the radio user wants.

The Publish - Subscribe API provided by Pypubsub has the following characteristics:

  1. Message Sender: The sender of a Pypubsub message is the ccode that calls pub.sendMessage().
  2. Message Topic: a. Every message is specific to a “topic”, defined as a string name; b. Topics form a hierarchy. A parent topic is more generic than a child topic.
  3. Message Data: any keyword arguments used by the sender, pub.sendMessage(topic, **data);
    1. A topic may have no associated message data, or may have any mixture of required and optional data; this is known as its Message Data Specification (MDS);
    2. The MDS of a child topic cannot be more restrictive than that of a parent topic;
    3. Once the MDS is set for a topic, it never changes during the runtime of an application.
  4. Message Listener: All message listeners are callables that get registered with Pypubsub in order to receive messages of a given topic, and must have a signature that is compatible with the topic’s MDS.
  5. Message Delivery:
    1. Messages sent will be delivered to all registered listeners of a given topic; this includes listeners of the topic, parent topic, etc. Hence the root of all topics (called ALL_TOPICS) receives all messages.
    2. Sequence of delivery is unspecified and can change at any time. This is fundamental to the Observer pattern, and your application’s listeners must be designed to not depend on the order in which they receive a given message.
    3. Messages are delivered synchronously: a listener must return or throw an exception before the message is delivered to the next listener.
    4. A listener that raises an exception does not prevent remaining listeners from receiving the message.
    5. A message sent will be delivered to all registered listeners of the specified topic before control is returned to the sender.
  6. Message Immutability: message contents must be left unchanged by listeners, but Pypubsub does not verify this.
  7. Message Direction: a message is one-way from sender to set-of-listeners; Pypubsub does not support “answering” with a response from each listener to the sender. This could, of course, be achieved by having the sender include a callback as message data, and each listener calling that callback with agreed-upon data, but this (typically) increases coupling.
  8. Message Source: Pypubsub does not provide any information to the listeners regarding the origin (aka source, or provenance) of a message. The sender could, of course, include such information with the message data, but this is not recommended as it defeats the purpose of the Observer pattern.

Here is a schematic representation of the role of Pypubsub during message sending and delivery:

Sketch showing how Pypubsub fits into a Python application

Pypubsub does for


Indices and tables