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  1
  2:mod:`cgi` --- Common Gateway Interface support.
  3================================================
  4
  5.. module:: cgi
  6   :synopsis: Helpers for running Python scripts via the Common Gateway Interface.
  7
  8
  9.. index::
 10   pair: WWW; server
 11   pair: CGI; protocol
 12   pair: HTTP; protocol
 13   pair: MIME; headers
 14   single: URL
 15   single: Common Gateway Interface
 16
 17Support module for Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts.
 18
 19This module defines a number of utilities for use by CGI scripts written in
 20Python.
 21
 22
 23Introduction
 24------------
 25
 26.. _cgi-intro:
 27
 28A CGI script is invoked by an HTTP server, usually to process user input
 29submitted through an HTML ``<FORM>`` or ``<ISINDEX>`` element.
 30
 31Most often, CGI scripts live in the server's special :file:`cgi-bin` directory.
 32The HTTP server places all sorts of information about the request (such as the
 33client's hostname, the requested URL, the query string, and lots of other
 34goodies) in the script's shell environment, executes the script, and sends the
 35script's output back to the client.
 36
 37The script's input is connected to the client too, and sometimes the form data
 38is read this way; at other times the form data is passed via the "query string"
 39part of the URL.  This module is intended to take care of the different cases
 40and provide a simpler interface to the Python script.  It also provides a number
 41of utilities that help in debugging scripts, and the latest addition is support
 42for file uploads from a form (if your browser supports it).
 43
 44The output of a CGI script should consist of two sections, separated by a blank
 45line.  The first section contains a number of headers, telling the client what
 46kind of data is following.  Python code to generate a minimal header section
 47looks like this::
 48
 49   print "Content-Type: text/html"     # HTML is following
 50   print                               # blank line, end of headers
 51
 52The second section is usually HTML, which allows the client software to display
 53nicely formatted text with header, in-line images, etc. Here's Python code that
 54prints a simple piece of HTML::
 55
 56   print "<TITLE>CGI script output</TITLE>"
 57   print "<H1>This is my first CGI script</H1>"
 58   print "Hello, world!"
 59
 60
 61.. _using-the-cgi-module:
 62
 63Using the cgi module
 64--------------------
 65
 66Begin by writing ``import cgi``.  Do not use ``from cgi import *`` --- the
 67module defines all sorts of names for its own use or for backward compatibility
 68that you don't want in your namespace.
 69
 70When you write a new script, consider adding these lines::
 71
 72   import cgitb
 73   cgitb.enable()
 74
 75This activates a special exception handler that will display detailed reports in
 76the Web browser if any errors occur.  If you'd rather not show the guts of your
 77program to users of your script, you can have the reports saved to files
 78instead, with code like this::
 79
 80   import cgitb
 81   cgitb.enable(display=0, logdir="/tmp")
 82
 83It's very helpful to use this feature during script development. The reports
 84produced by :mod:`cgitb` provide information that can save you a lot of time in
 85tracking down bugs.  You can always remove the ``cgitb`` line later when you
 86have tested your script and are confident that it works correctly.
 87
 88To get at submitted form data, it's best to use the :class:`FieldStorage` class.
 89The other classes defined in this module are provided mostly for backward
 90compatibility. Instantiate it exactly once, without arguments.  This reads the
 91form contents from standard input or the environment (depending on the value of
 92various environment variables set according to the CGI standard).  Since it may
 93consume standard input, it should be instantiated only once.
 94
 95The :class:`FieldStorage` instance can be indexed like a Python dictionary, and
 96also supports the standard dictionary methods :meth:`has_key` and :meth:`keys`.
 97The built-in :func:`len` is also supported.  Form fields containing empty
 98strings are ignored and do not appear in the dictionary; to keep such values,
 99provide a true value for the optional *keep_blank_values* keyword parameter when
100creating the :class:`FieldStorage` instance.
101
102For instance, the following code (which assumes that the
103:mailheader:`Content-Type` header and blank line have already been printed)
104checks that the fields ``name`` and ``addr`` are both set to a non-empty
105string::
106
107   form = cgi.FieldStorage()
108   if not (form.has_key("name") and form.has_key("addr")):
109       print "<H1>Error</H1>"
110       print "Please fill in the name and addr fields."
111       return
112   print "<p>name:", form["name"].value
113   print "<p>addr:", form["addr"].value
114   ...further form processing here...
115
116Here the fields, accessed through ``form[key]``, are themselves instances of
117:class:`FieldStorage` (or :class:`MiniFieldStorage`, depending on the form
118encoding). The :attr:`value` attribute of the instance yields the string value
119of the field.  The :meth:`getvalue` method returns this string value directly;
120it also accepts an optional second argument as a default to return if the
121requested key is not present.
122
123If the submitted form data contains more than one field with the same name, the
124object retrieved by ``form[key]`` is not a :class:`FieldStorage` or
125:class:`MiniFieldStorage` instance but a list of such instances.  Similarly, in
126this situation, ``form.getvalue(key)`` would return a list of strings. If you
127expect this possibility (when your HTML form contains multiple fields with the
128same name), use the :func:`getlist` function, which always returns a list of
129values (so that you do not need to special-case the single item case).  For
130example, this code concatenates any number of username fields, separated by
131commas::
132
133   value = form.getlist("username")
134   usernames = ",".join(value)
135
136If a field represents an uploaded file, accessing the value via the
137:attr:`value` attribute or the :func:`getvalue` method reads the entire file in
138memory as a string.  This may not be what you want. You can test for an uploaded
139file by testing either the :attr:`filename` attribute or the :attr:`file`
140attribute.  You can then read the data at leisure from the :attr:`file`
141attribute::
142
143   fileitem = form["userfile"]
144   if fileitem.file:
145       # It's an uploaded file; count lines
146       linecount = 0
147       while 1:
148           line = fileitem.file.readline()
149           if not line: break
150           linecount = linecount + 1
151
152If an error is encountered when obtaining the contents of an uploaded file
153(for example, when the user interrupts the form submission by clicking on
154a Back or Cancel button) the :attr:`done` attribute of the object for the
155field will be set to the value -1.
156
157The file upload draft standard entertains the possibility of uploading multiple
158files from one field (using a recursive :mimetype:`multipart/\*` encoding).
159When this occurs, the item will be a dictionary-like :class:`FieldStorage` item.
160This can be determined by testing its :attr:`type` attribute, which should be
161:mimetype:`multipart/form-data` (or perhaps another MIME type matching
162:mimetype:`multipart/\*`).  In this case, it can be iterated over recursively
163just like the top-level form object.
164
165When a form is submitted in the "old" format (as the query string or as a single
166data part of type :mimetype:`application/x-www-form-urlencoded`), the items will
167actually be instances of the class :class:`MiniFieldStorage`.  In this case, the
168:attr:`list`, :attr:`file`, and :attr:`filename` attributes are always ``None``.
169
170A form submitted via POST that also has a query string will contain both
171:class:`FieldStorage` and :class:`MiniFieldStorage` items.
172
173Higher Level Interface
174----------------------
175
176.. versionadded:: 2.2
177
178The previous section explains how to read CGI form data using the
179:class:`FieldStorage` class.  This section describes a higher level interface
180which was added to this class to allow one to do it in a more readable and
181intuitive way.  The interface doesn't make the techniques described in previous
182sections obsolete --- they are still useful to process file uploads efficiently,
183for example.
184
185.. XXX: Is this true ?
186
187The interface consists of two simple methods. Using the methods you can process
188form data in a generic way, without the need to worry whether only one or more
189values were posted under one name.
190
191In the previous section, you learned to write following code anytime you
192expected a user to post more than one value under one name::
193
194   item = form.getvalue("item")
195   if isinstance(item, list):
196       # The user is requesting more than one item.
197   else:
198       # The user is requesting only one item.
199
200This situation is common for example when a form contains a group of multiple
201checkboxes with the same name::
202
203   <input type="checkbox" name="item" value="1" />
204   <input type="checkbox" name="item" value="2" />
205
206In most situations, however, there's only one form control with a particular
207name in a form and then you expect and need only one value associated with this
208name.  So you write a script containing for example this code::
209
210   user = form.getvalue("user").upper()
211
212The problem with the code is that you should never expect that a client will
213provide valid input to your scripts.  For example, if a curious user appends
214another ``user=foo`` pair to the query string, then the script would crash,
215because in this situation the ``getvalue("user")`` method call returns a list
216instead of a string.  Calling the :meth:`toupper` method on a list is not valid
217(since lists do not have a method of this name) and results in an
218:exc:`AttributeError` exception.
219
220Therefore, the appropriate way to read form data values was to always use the
221code which checks whether the obtained value is a single value or a list of
222values.  That's annoying and leads to less readable scripts.
223
224A more convenient approach is to use the methods :meth:`getfirst` and
225:meth:`getlist` provided by this higher level interface.
226
227
228.. method:: FieldStorage.getfirst(name[, default])
229
230   This method always returns only one value associated with form field *name*.
231   The method returns only the first value in case that more values were posted
232   under such name.  Please note that the order in which the values are received
233   may vary from browser to browser and should not be counted on. [#]_  If no such
234   form field or value exists then the method returns the value specified by the
235   optional parameter *default*.  This parameter defaults to ``None`` if not
236   specified.
237
238
239.. method:: FieldStorage.getlist(name)
240
241   This method always returns a list of values associated with form field *name*.
242   The method returns an empty list if no such form field or value exists for
243   *name*.  It returns a list consisting of one item if only one such value exists.
244
245Using these methods you can write nice compact code::
246
247   import cgi
248   form = cgi.FieldStorage()
249   user = form.getfirst("user", "").upper()    # This way it's safe.
250   for item in form.getlist("item"):
251       do_something(item)
252
253
254Old classes
255-----------
256
257.. deprecated:: 2.6
258
259   These classes, present in earlier versions of the :mod:`cgi` module, are
260   still supported for backward compatibility.  New applications should use the
261   :class:`FieldStorage` class.
262
263:class:`SvFormContentDict` stores single value form content as dictionary; it
264assumes each field name occurs in the form only once.
265
266:class:`FormContentDict` stores multiple value form content as a dictionary (the
267form items are lists of values).  Useful if your form contains multiple fields
268with the same name.
269
270Other classes (:class:`FormContent`, :class:`InterpFormContentDict`) are present
271for backwards compatibility with really old applications only.
272
273
274.. _functions-in-cgi-module:
275
276Functions
277---------
278
279These are useful if you want more control, or if you want to employ some of the
280algorithms implemented in this module in other circumstances.
281
282
283.. function:: parse(fp[, keep_blank_values[, strict_parsing]])
284
285   Parse a query in the environment or from a file (the file defaults to
286   ``sys.stdin``).  The *keep_blank_values* and *strict_parsing* parameters are
287   passed to :func:`urlparse.parse_qs` unchanged.
288
289
290.. function:: parse_qs(qs[, keep_blank_values[, strict_parsing]])
291
292   This function is deprecated in this module. Use :func:`urlparse.parse_qs`
293   instead. It is maintained here only for backward compatiblity.
294
295.. function:: parse_qsl(qs[, keep_blank_values[, strict_parsing]])
296
297   This function is deprecated in this module. Use :func:`urlparse.parse_qsl`
298   instead. It is maintained here only for backward compatiblity.
299
300.. function:: parse_multipart(fp, pdict)
301
302   Parse input of type :mimetype:`multipart/form-data` (for  file uploads).
303   Arguments are *fp* for the input file and *pdict* for a dictionary containing
304   other parameters in the :mailheader:`Content-Type` header.
305
306   Returns a dictionary just like :func:`urlparse.parse_qs` keys are the field names, each
307   value is a list of values for that field.  This is easy to use but not much good
308   if you are expecting megabytes to be uploaded --- in that case, use the
309   :class:`FieldStorage` class instead which is much more flexible.
310
311   Note that this does not parse nested multipart parts --- use
312   :class:`FieldStorage` for that.
313
314
315.. function:: parse_header(string)
316
317   Parse a MIME header (such as :mailheader:`Content-Type`) into a main value and a
318   dictionary of parameters.
319
320
321.. function:: test()
322
323   Robust test CGI script, usable as main program. Writes minimal HTTP headers and
324   formats all information provided to the script in HTML form.
325
326
327.. function:: print_environ()
328
329   Format the shell environment in HTML.
330
331
332.. function:: print_form(form)
333
334   Format a form in HTML.
335
336
337.. function:: print_directory()
338
339   Format the current directory in HTML.
340
341
342.. function:: print_environ_usage()
343
344   Print a list of useful (used by CGI) environment variables in HTML.
345
346
347.. function:: escape(s[, quote])
348
349   Convert the characters ``'&'``, ``'<'`` and ``'>'`` in string *s* to HTML-safe
350   sequences.  Use this if you need to display text that might contain such
351   characters in HTML.  If the optional flag *quote* is true, the quotation mark
352   character (``'"'``) is also translated; this helps for inclusion in an HTML
353   attribute value, as in ``<A HREF="...">``.  If the value to be quoted might
354   include single- or double-quote characters, or both, consider using the
355   :func:`quoteattr` function in the :mod:`xml.sax.saxutils` module instead.
356
357
358.. _cgi-security:
359
360Caring about security
361---------------------
362
363.. index:: pair: CGI; security
364
365There's one important rule: if you invoke an external program (via the
366:func:`os.system` or :func:`os.popen` functions. or others with similar
367functionality), make very sure you don't pass arbitrary strings received from
368the client to the shell.  This is a well-known security hole whereby clever
369hackers anywhere on the Web can exploit a gullible CGI script to invoke
370arbitrary shell commands.  Even parts of the URL or field names cannot be
371trusted, since the request doesn't have to come from your form!
372
373To be on the safe side, if you must pass a string gotten from a form to a shell
374command, you should make sure the string contains only alphanumeric characters,
375dashes, underscores, and periods.
376
377
378Installing your CGI script on a Unix system
379-------------------------------------------
380
381Read the documentation for your HTTP server and check with your local system
382administrator to find the directory where CGI scripts should be installed;
383usually this is in a directory :file:`cgi-bin` in the server tree.
384
385Make sure that your script is readable and executable by "others"; the Unix file
386mode should be ``0755`` octal (use ``chmod 0755 filename``).  Make sure that the
387first line of the script contains ``#!`` starting in column 1 followed by the
388pathname of the Python interpreter, for instance::
389
390   #!/usr/local/bin/python
391
392Make sure the Python interpreter exists and is executable by "others".
393
394Make sure that any files your script needs to read or write are readable or
395writable, respectively, by "others" --- their mode should be ``0644`` for
396readable and ``0666`` for writable.  This is because, for security reasons, the
397HTTP server executes your script as user "nobody", without any special
398privileges.  It can only read (write, execute) files that everybody can read
399(write, execute).  The current directory at execution time is also different (it
400is usually the server's cgi-bin directory) and the set of environment variables
401is also different from what you get when you log in.  In particular, don't count
402on the shell's search path for executables (:envvar:`PATH`) or the Python module
403search path (:envvar:`PYTHONPATH`) to be set to anything interesting.
404
405If you need to load modules from a directory which is not on Python's default
406module search path, you can change the path in your script, before importing
407other modules.  For example::
408
409   import sys
410   sys.path.insert(0, "/usr/home/joe/lib/python")
411   sys.path.insert(0, "/usr/local/lib/python")
412
413(This way, the directory inserted last will be searched first!)
414
415Instructions for non-Unix systems will vary; check your HTTP server's
416documentation (it will usually have a section on CGI scripts).
417
418
419Testing your CGI script
420-----------------------
421
422Unfortunately, a CGI script will generally not run when you try it from the
423command line, and a script that works perfectly from the command line may fail
424mysteriously when run from the server.  There's one reason why you should still
425test your script from the command line: if it contains a syntax error, the
426Python interpreter won't execute it at all, and the HTTP server will most likely
427send a cryptic error to the client.
428
429Assuming your script has no syntax errors, yet it does not work, you have no
430choice but to read the next section.
431
432
433Debugging CGI scripts
434---------------------
435
436.. index:: pair: CGI; debugging
437
438First of all, check for trivial installation errors --- reading the section
439above on installing your CGI script carefully can save you a lot of time.  If
440you wonder whether you have understood the installation procedure correctly, try
441installing a copy of this module file (:file:`cgi.py`) as a CGI script.  When
442invoked as a script, the file will dump its environment and the contents of the
443form in HTML form. Give it the right mode etc, and send it a request.  If it's
444installed in the standard :file:`cgi-bin` directory, it should be possible to
445send it a request by entering a URL into your browser of the form::
446
447   http://yourhostname/cgi-bin/cgi.py?name=Joe+Blow&addr=At+Home
448
449If this gives an error of type 404, the server cannot find the script -- perhaps
450you need to install it in a different directory.  If it gives another error,
451there's an installation problem that you should fix before trying to go any
452further.  If you get a nicely formatted listing of the environment and form
453content (in this example, the fields should be listed as "addr" with value "At
454Home" and "name" with value "Joe Blow"), the :file:`cgi.py` script has been
455installed correctly.  If you follow the same procedure for your own script, you
456should now be able to debug it.
457
458The next step could be to call the :mod:`cgi` module's :func:`test` function
459from your script: replace its main code with the single statement ::
460
461   cgi.test()
462
463This should produce the same results as those gotten from installing the
464:file:`cgi.py` file itself.
465
466When an ordinary Python script raises an unhandled exception (for whatever
467reason: of a typo in a module name, a file that can't be opened, etc.), the
468Python interpreter prints a nice traceback and exits.  While the Python
469interpreter will still do this when your CGI script raises an exception, most
470likely the traceback will end up in one of the HTTP server's log files, or be
471discarded altogether.
472
473Fortunately, once you have managed to get your script to execute *some* code,
474you can easily send tracebacks to the Web browser using the :mod:`cgitb` module.
475If you haven't done so already, just add the lines::
476
477   import cgitb
478   cgitb.enable()
479
480to the top of your script.  Then try running it again; when a problem occurs,
481you should see a detailed report that will likely make apparent the cause of the
482crash.
483
484If you suspect that there may be a problem in importing the :mod:`cgitb` module,
485you can use an even more robust approach (which only uses built-in modules)::
486
487   import sys
488   sys.stderr = sys.stdout
489   print "Content-Type: text/plain"
490   print
491   ...your code here...
492
493This relies on the Python interpreter to print the traceback.  The content type
494of the output is set to plain text, which disables all HTML processing.  If your
495script works, the raw HTML will be displayed by your client.  If it raises an
496exception, most likely after the first two lines have been printed, a traceback
497will be displayed. Because no HTML interpretation is going on, the traceback
498will be readable.
499
500
501Common problems and solutions
502-----------------------------
503
504* Most HTTP servers buffer the output from CGI scripts until the script is
505  completed.  This means that it is not possible to display a progress report on
506  the client's display while the script is running.
507
508* Check the installation instructions above.
509
510* Check the HTTP server's log files.  (``tail -f logfile`` in a separate window
511  may be useful!)
512
513* Always check a script for syntax errors first, by doing something like
514  ``python script.py``.
515
516* If your script does not have any syntax errors, try adding ``import cgitb;
517  cgitb.enable()`` to the top of the script.
518
519* When invoking external programs, make sure they can be found. Usually, this
520  means using absolute path names --- :envvar:`PATH` is usually not set to a very
521  useful value in a CGI script.
522
523* When reading or writing external files, make sure they can be read or written
524  by the userid under which your CGI script will be running: this is typically the
525  userid under which the web server is running, or some explicitly specified
526  userid for a web server's ``suexec`` feature.
527
528* Don't try to give a CGI script a set-uid mode.  This doesn't work on most
529  systems, and is a security liability as well.
530
531.. rubric:: Footnotes
532
533.. [#] Note that some recent versions of the HTML specification do state what order the
534   field values should be supplied in, but knowing whether a request was
535   received from a conforming browser, or even from a browser at all, is tedious
536   and error-prone.
537