Assorted Tips And Tricks

This document contains various tips and tricks related to using mod_wsgi which don’t deserve a document of their own or which don’t fit within other documentation.

Determining If Running Under mod_wsgi

As a WSGI application developer you should always be striving to write portable WSGI applications. That is, you should not write your code so as to be dependent on the specific features of a specific WSGI hosting mechanism.

This unfortunately is not always possible especially when it comes to deployment due to there being no one blessed way for exposing a WSGI application for hooking into WSGI hosting mechanisms. There may also be times when you might want to rely on a feature of a specific WSGI hosting mechanism, which although not part of the WSGI specification, allows you to do something you wouldn’t otherwise.

That said, there a few ways in which you can detect that your code is running under mod_wsgi. These fall under two categories. The first being a general mechanism for how to detect if mod_wsgi is being used. The second being additional ways to detect that mod_wsgi is being used when a request is being handled.

The simplest way of detecting if mod_wsgi is being used is to import the ‘mod_wsgi’ module. This is a special embedded mode which is installed automatically by the Apache/mod_wsgi module into set of imported modules, ie., sys.modules. You can thus do:

    import mod_wsgi
    # Put code here which should only run when mod_wsgi is being used.

Do note however that although this is an embedded mode added automatically, the way mod_wsgi has been implemented allows in the future for there to be a separate Python package/module distinct from the file called ‘mod_wsgi’ which might contain additional Python code to support use of mod_wsgi.

What would happen if such a separate Python package/module is available is that it will be automatically imported and additional information setup by the Apache/mod_wsgi module then inserted into the global namespace of that Python package/module.

The potential existance of this distinct Python package/module means that importing ‘mod_wsgi’ could one day actually succeed outside of code being run under the Apache/mod_wsgi module.

A more correct test therefore is:

    from mod_wsgi import version
    # Put code here which should only run when mod_wsgi is being used.

This is different because the ‘version’ attribute will only be present when running under the Apache/mod_wsgi module as that version relates to the version of

The above import check can be used anywhere, be that in the WSGI script file, or in your application code at either global scope or within the context of a specific function.

In the specific case of the WSGI script file, although the above can be used there is an alternate check that can be made. That is to check the value of the ‘__name__’ attribute given to the WSGI script file when the code is loaded into the Python interpreter.

The normal situation where one would check the value of ‘__name__’ is where wanting to do something different when a Python code file is executed directly against the Python interpreter as opposed to being imported. For example:

if __name__ == '__main__':

In contrast, were a Python code file is imported, the ‘__name__’ attribute would be the dotted path which would be used to import the code file.

In the case of mod_wsgi, although WSGI script files are imported as if they are a module, because they could exist anywhere and not in locations on the Python module search path, they don’t have a conventional dotted path name. Instead they have a magic name built from a md5 hash of the path to the WSGI script file.

So as to at least identify this as being related to mod_wsgi, it has the prefix ‘_mod_wsgi_’. This means a WSGI script file could use:

if __name__.startswith('_mod_wsgi_'):

if it needed to execute different code based on whether the WSGI script file was actually being loaded by the Apache/mod_wsgi module as opposed to be executed directly as a script by the command line Python interpreter.

This latter technique obviously only works in the WSGI script file and not elsewhere.

A final method that can be used within the context of the WSGI application handling the request is to interrogate the WSGI environ dictionary passed to the WSGI application. In this case code can look for the presence of the ‘mod_wsgi.version’ key within the WSGI environ dictionary:

def application(environ, start_response):
    status = '200 OK'
    if environ.has_key('mod_wsgi.version'):
        output = b'Hello mod_wsgi!'
        output = b'Hello other WSGI hosting mechanism!'

    response_headers = [('Content-type', 'text/plain'),
                        ('Content-Length', str(len(output)))]
    start_response(status, response_headers)

    return [output]