Startup and product initialisation


What happens on Zope startup, and how do Zope 2 products and constructors work?

What happens on Zope startup?

A startup script (e.g. bin/instance fg) calls Zope 2's in an appropriate interpreter context (i.e. one that has the necessary packages on sys.path). This invokes a subclass of ZopeStarter from Zope2.Startup:

import Zope2.Startup
starter = Zope2.Startup.get_starter()
opts = _setconfig()

There are various variants that allow different ways to supply configuration.

There are two versions of the starter, one for Unix and one for Windows. It performs a number of actions during the prepare() phase:

def prepare(self):
    # Start ZServer servers before we drop privileges so we can bind to
    # "low" ports:
    # drop privileges after setting up servers
    from App.config import getConfiguration
    config = getConfiguration()
    # emit a "ready" message in order to prevent the kinds of emails
    # to the Zope maillist in which people claim that Zope has "frozen"
    # after it has emitted ZServer messages.'Ready to handle requests')

Mostly, this is about using information from the configuration (which is read using ZConfig from a configuration file, or taken from the global defaults) to set various module-level variables and options.

The startZope() call ends up in Zope2.App.startup.startup(), which performs a number of startup tasks:

  • Importing products (OFS.Application.import_products())

  • Creating a ZODB for the chosen storage (as set in the ZConfig configuration). This is stored in both Globals.DB and Zope2.DB, and is configured using a dbtab (mount points specification) read from the configuration file. When this is done, the event zope.processlifetime.DatabaseOpened is notified.

  • Setting the ClassFactory on the ZODB instance to Zope2.App.ClassFactory.ClassFactory. This is a function that will attempt to import a class, and will return OFS.Uninstalled.Broken if the class cannot be imported for whatever reason. This allows for somewhat graceful recovery if symbols that are persistently referenced in the ZODB disappear.

  • Loading ZCML configuration from site.zcml. This in turn loads ZCML for all installed products in the Products.* namespace, and ZCML slugs. The load_zcml() call also sets up a Zope2VocabularyRegistry.

  • Creating the app object, an instance of App.ZApplication.ZApplicationWrapper that wraps a OFS.Application.Application. The purpose of the wrapper is to:

    • Create an instance of the application object at the root of the ZODB on __init__() if it is not there already. The name by default is Application.
    • Implement traversal over this wrapper (__bobo_traverse__) to open a ZODB connection before continuing traversal, and closing it at the end of the request.
    • Return the persistent instance of the true application root object when called.

    The wrapper is set as Zope2.bobo_application, which is used when the publisher publishes the Zope2 module — more on publication later.

  • Initialising the application object using OFS.Application.initialize(). This defensively creates a number of items:

    def initialize(self):
        # make sure to preserve relative ordering of calls below.
  • Notfiying the event zope.processlifetime.DatabaseOpenedWithRoot

  • Setting a number of ZPublisher hooks:

    Zope2.zpublisher_transactions_manager = TransactionsManager()
    Zope2.zpublisher_exception_hook = zpublisher_exception_hook
    Zope2.zpublisher_validated_hook = validated_hook
    Zope2.__bobo_before__ = noSecurityManager

The run() method of the ZopeStarter then runs the main startup loop (note: this is not applicable for WSGI startup using make_wsgi_app() in, where the WSGI server is responsible for the event loop):

def run(self):
    # the mainloop.
        from App.config import getConfiguration
        config = getConfiguration()
        import ZServer
        import Lifetime

The Lifetime module uses asyncore to poll for connected sockets until shutdown is initiated, either through a signal or an explicit changing of the flag Lifetime._shutdown_phase, which is checked for each iteraton of the loop.

Sockets are created when new connections are received on a defined server. When using the built-in ZServer (i.e. not WSGI), the default HTTP server is defined in ZServer.HTTPServer.zhttp_server, which derives from ZServer.medusa.http_server, which in turn is an asyncore.dispatcher.

Servers are created in ZopeStarter.setupServers(), which loops over the ZConfig-defined server factories and call their create() metohod. The server factories are defined in ZServer.datatypes. (The word datatypes refers to ZConfig data types.)

Note also that some of the configuration data is mutated in the prepare() method of the server instance, which is called from Zope2.startup.handlers.root_handler() during the configuration phase. These handlers are registered with a call to Zope2.startup.handlers.handleConfig() during the _setconfig() call in

How are products installed?

During application initialisation, the method install_products() will call the method OFS.Application.install_products(). This will record products in the Control_Panel if this is enabled in zope.conf, and call the initialize() function for any product that has one with a product context that allows the product to register constructors for the Zope runtime.

install_products() loops over all product directories (configured via zope.conf and kept in Products.__path___ by Zope2.startup.handlers.root_handler()) and scans these for product directories with an For each, it calls OFS.Application.install_product. This will:

  • Import the product as a Python package

  • Look for an attribute misc_ at the product root, which is used to store things like icons. If it is a dictionary, wrap it in an OFS.misc_.Misc_ object, which is just a simple, security-aware class. Then store a copy of it as an attribute on the object Application.misc_. The attribute name is the product name. This allows traversal to the misc_ resources.

    As an example of the use of the use of misc_, consider this dictionary set up in Products/CMFPlone/

    misc_ = {'plone_icon': ImageFile(
              os.path.join('skins', 'plone_images', 'logoIcon.png'),

    This can now be traversed to as /misc_/CMFPlone/plone_icon by virtue of the misc_ attribute on the application root.

  • Next, create an App.ProductContext.ProductContext to be used during product initialisation. This is passed a product object, a handle to the application root, and the product's package.

    There are two ways to obtain the product object:

    • If persistent product installation (in the Control_Panel) is enabled in zope.conf, call App.Product.initializeProduct. This will create a App.Product.Product object and save it persistently in App.Control_Panel.Products. It also reads the file version.txt from the product to determine a version number, and will change the persistent object (at Zope startup) if the version has changed. The product object is initialised with a product name and title and is used to store basic information about the product. The product object is then returned.
    • If persistent product installation is disabled (the default), simply instantiate a FactoryDispatcher.Product object (which is a simpler, duck-typing-equivalent of App.Product.Product) with the product name.
  • If the product has an initialize() method at its root, call it with the product context as an argument.

Once old-style products are initialised, any packages outside the Products.* namespace that want to be initialised are processed. The <five:registerProduct /> ZCML directive stores a list of packages to be processed and any referenced initialize() method in the variable OFS.metaconfigure._packages_to_initialize, accessible via the function get_packages_to_initialize() in the same module. install_products() loops over this list, calling install_package() for each. This works very much like install_product(). When it is done, it calls the function OFS.metaconfigure.package_initialized() to remove the package from the list of packages to initalise.

How do Zope 2 product constructors work?

Products can make constructors available to the Zope runtime. This is what powers the Add drop-down in the ZMI, for instance. They do so by calling registerClass() on the product context passed to the initialize() function. This takes the following main arguments:

The class of the object that will be created.
A unique string representing kind of object being created, which appears in add lists. If not specified, then the class meta_type will be used.
The permission name for the constructors. If not specified, a permission name generated from the meta type ("Add <meta_type>") will be used.

A list of constructor methods. An element in the list can be a callable object with a __name__ attribute giving the name the method should have in the product, or the a tuple consisting of a name and a callable object. The first method will be used as the initial method called when creating an object through the web (in the ZMI).

It is quite common to pass in two constructor callables: one that is a DTMLMethod or PageTemplateFile that renders an add form and one that is a method that actually creates and adds an instance. A typical example from Products.MailHost is:

manage_addMailHostForm = DTMLFile('dtml/addMailHost_form', globals())

def manage_addMailHost(self,
    """ Add a MailHost into the system.
    i = MailHost(id, title, smtp_host, smtp_port)
    self._setObject(id, i)

    if REQUEST is not None:

These are then referenced in initialize():

def initialize(context):
      permission='Add MailHost objects',

The form will be called with a path like /<container>/manage_addProduct/MailHost/manage_addMailHostForm. The <form /> on this page has a relative URL action="manage_addMailHost", which means that when the form is submitted, the manage_addMailHost() function is called. id, title and the other variables are passed as request parameters and marshalled (by mapply() — see below) into function arguments, and the REQUEST is implicitly passed (again by mapply()).

The name of an image file in the package to be used for instances. The class icon attribute will be set automagically if an icon is provided.
Additional permissions to be registered.
The string "Global" if the object is globally visible, or None otherwise.
A list of the interfaces the object supports. These can be used to filter addable meta-types later.
A function that is called with an ObjectManager object as the only parameter, which should return a truth value if the object is happy to be created in that container. The filter is called before showing ObjectManager's Add list, and before pasting (after object copy or cut), but not before calling an object's constructor.

The main aims of this method are to register some new permissions, store some information about the class in the variable Products.meta_types, and create a FactoryDispatcher that allow traversal to the constructor method.

  • If an icon and instance_class are supplied, set an icon attribute on instance_class to a path like misc_/<productname>/<iconfilename>.

  • Register any permissions by calling AccessControl.Permission.registerPermissions() (described later).

  • If there is no permission provided, generate a permission name as the string "Add <meta_type>", defaulting to being granted to Manager only. Register this permission as well.

  • Grab the name of the first constructor passed in the constructors tuple. This can either be the function's __name__, or a name can be provided explicitly by passing as the first list element a tuple of (name, function).

  • Try to obtain the value of the symbol __FactoryDispatcher__ in the package root ( if set. If not, create a class on the fly with this name by deriving from App.FactoryDispatcher.FactoryDispatcher and set this onto the product package as an attribute named __FactoryDispatcher__.

  • Set an attribute _m in the package root if it does not exist to an instance of AttrDict wrapped around the factory dispatcher. This is a bizzarre construction best described by its implementation:

    class AttrDict:
      def __init__(self, ob):
          self.ob = ob
      def __setitem__(self, name, v):
          setattr(self.ob, name, v)
  • If no interfaces were passed in explicitly, obtain the interfaces implemented by the instance_class, if provided.

  • Record information about the primary constructor in the tuple Products.meta_types by appending a dictionary with keys:


    The meta_type passed in or obtained from the instance_class.


    A path segment like manage_addProduct/<productname>/<constructorname>. for the initial (first) constructor. More on manage_addProduct below.


    The name of the product, without the Product. prefix.


    The add permission passed in or generated.


    Either "Global" or None as passed in to the method.


    The list of interfaces passed in or obtained from instance_class.


    The instance_class as passed in to the method.


    The container_filter as passed in to the method.

  • Next, put the initial constructor and any further constructors passed in onto the _m pseudo-dictionary (which really just means setting them as attributes on the FactoryDispatcher-subclass). The appropriate <methodname>__roles__ attribute is set to a PermissionRole describing the add permission as well.

  • If an icon filename was passed in, construct an ImageFile to read the icon file from the package and stash it in the OFS.misc_.misc_ class so that it can be traversed to later.

Note that previously, the approach taken was to inject factory methods into the class OFS.ObjectManager.ObjectManager, which is the base class for most folderish types in Zope. This is still supported for backwards compatibility, by providing a legacy tuple of function objects, but is deprecated.

Products.meta_types is used in various places, most notably in OFS.ObjectManager.ObjectManager in the methods all_meta_types() and filtered_meta_types().

The former returns all of Products.meta_types (plus possibly some legacy entries in _product_meta_types on the application root object, used to support through-the-web defined products via App.ProductRegistry.ProductRegistry), applying the container_filter if available and optionally filtering by interfaces.

The latter is used to power the Add widget in the ZMI by creating a <select /> box for all meta_types the user is allowed to add by checking the add permission of each of the items returned by all_meta_types(). The action stored in the meta_types list is then used to traverse to and invoke a constructor.

Note that subclasses of ObjectManager may sometimes override all_meta_types() to set a more restrictive list of addable types. They may also add to the list of the default implementation by setting a meta_types class or instance variable containing further entries in the same format as Products.meta_types.

Finally, let us consider the manage_addProduct method seen in the action used to traverse to a registered constructor callable (e.g. an add form) using a path such as /<container>/manage_addProduct/<productname>/<constructname>. It is set on OFS.ObjectManager.ObjectManager, and is actually an instance of App.FactoryDispatcher.ProductDispatcher. This is an implicit-acquisition-capable object that implements __bobo_traverse__ as follows:

  • Attempt to obtain a __FactoryDispatcher__ attribute from the product package (from the name being traversed to), defaulting to the standard FactoryDispatcher class in the same module.
  • Find a persistent App.Product.Product if there is one, or create a simple App.FactoryDispatcher.Product wrapper if persistent product installation has not taken place.
  • Create an instance of the factory dispatcher on the fly, passing in the product descriptor and the parent object (i.e. the container).
  • Return this, acquisition-wrapped in self, to allow traversal to continue.

Traversal then continues over the FactoryDispatcher. In the version of this created by registerClass(), each constructor is set as an attribute on the product-specific dispatcher, with appropriate roles, so traversal will be able to obtain the constructor callable.

There is also a fallback __getattr__() implementation in the base FactoryDispatcher class, which will inspect the _m attribute on the product package for an appropriate constructor, and is also able to obtain constructor information from a persistent Product instance (from Control_Panel if there was one). This supports a (legacy) approach where instead of calling registerClass() to register constructors, constructors are set in a dict called _m at the root of the product.