The biggest difference between Pyramid and Pylons is how views are structured, and how they invoke templates and access state variables. This is a large topic because it touches on templates, renderers, request variables, URL generators, and more, and several of these topics have many facets. So we'll just start somewhere and keep going, and let it organize itself however it falls.

First let's review Pylons' view handling. In Pylons, a view is called an "action", and is a method in a controller class. Pylons has specific rules about the controller's module name, class name, and base class. When Pylons matches a URL to a route, it uses the routes 'controller' and 'action' variables to look up the controller and action. It instantiates the controller and calls the action. The action may take arguments with the same name as routing variables in the route; Pylons will pass in the current values from the route. The action normally returns a string, usually by calling render(template_name) to render a template. Alternatively, it can return a WebOb Response. The request's state data is handled by magic global variables which contain the values for the current request. (This includes equest parameters, response attributes, template variables, session variables, URL generator, cache object, and an "application globals" object.)

View functions and view methods

A Pyramid view callable can be a function or a method, and it can be in any location. The most basic form is a function that takes a request and returns a response:

from pyramid.response import Response

def my_view(request):
    return Response("Hello, world!")

A view method may be in any class. A class containing view methods is conventionally called a "view class" or a "handler". If a view is a method, the request is passed to the class constructor, and the method is called without arguments.

1class MyHandler(object):
2    def __init__(self, request):
3        self.request = request
5    def my_view(self):
6        return Response("Hello, classy world!")

The Pyramid structure has three major benefits.

  • Most importantly, it's easier to test. A unit test can call a view with a fake request, and get back the dict that would have been passed to the template. It can inspect the data variables directly rather than parsing them out of the HTML.

  • It's simpler and more modular. No magic globals.

  • You have the freedom to organize views however you like.

Typical view usage

Merely defining a view is not enough to make Pyramid use it. You have to register the view, either by calling config.add_view() or using the @view_config decorator.

The most common way to use views is with the @view_config decorator. This both marks the callable as a view and allows you to specify a template. It's also common to define a base class for common code shared by view classes. The following is borrowed from the Akhet demo.

 1from pyramid.view import view_config
 3class Handler(object):
 4    def __init__(self, request):
 5        self.request = request
 7class Main(Handler):
 9    @view_config(route_name="home", renderer="index.mako")
10    def index(self):
11        return {"project": "Akhet Demo"}

The application's main function has a config.scan() line, which imports all application modules looking for @view_config decorators. For each one it calls config.add_view(view) with the same keyword arguments. The scanner also recognizes a few other decorators which we'll see later. If you know that all your views are in a certain module or subpackage, you can scan only that one: config.scan(".views").

The example's @view_config decorator has two arguments, 'route_name' and 'renderer'. The 'route_name' argument is required when using URL dispatch, to tell Pyramid which route should invoke this view. The "renderer" argument names a template to invoke. In this case, the view's return value is a dict of data variables for the template. (This takes the place of Pylons' 'c' variable, and mimics TurboGears' usage pattern.) The renderer takes care of creating a Response object for you.

View configuration arguments

The following arguments can be passed to @view_config or config.add_view. If you have certain argument values that are the same for all of the views in a class, you can use @view_defaults on the class to specify them in one place.

This list includes only arguments commonly used in Pylons-like applications. The full list is in View Configuration in the Pyramid manual. The arguments have the same predicate/non-predicate distinction as add_route arguments. It's possible to register multiple views for a route, each with different predicate arguments, to invoke a different view in different circumstances.

Some of the arguments are common to add_route and add_view. In the route's case it determines whether the route will match a URL. In the view's case it determines whether the view will match the route.


[predicate] The route to attach this view to. Required when using URL dispatch.


[non-predicate] The name of a renderer or template. Discussed in Renderers below.


[non-predicate] A string naming a permission that the current user must have in order to invoke the view.


[non-predicate] Affects the 'Expires' and 'Cache-Control' HTTP headers in the response. This tells the browser whether to cache the response and for how long. The value may be an integer specifying the number of seconds to cache, a datetime.timedelta instance, or zero to prevent caching. This is equivalent to calling request.response.cache_expires(value) within the view code.


[predicate] This view will be chosen only if the context is an instance of this class or implements this interface. This is used with traversal, authorization, and exception views.


[predicate] One of the strings "GET", "POST", "PUT", "DELETE', "HEAD". The request method must equal this in order for the view to be chosen. REST applications often register multiple views for the same route, each with a different request method.


[predicate] This can be a string such as "foo", indicating that the request must have a query parameter or POST variable named "foo" in order for this view to be chosen. Alternatively, if the string contains "=" such as "foo=1", the request must both have this parameter and its value must be as specified, or this view won't be chosen.


[predicate] Like request_param but refers to a routing variable in the matchdict. In addition to the "foo" and "foo=1" syntax, you can also pass a dict of key/value pairs: all these routing variables must be present and have the specified values.

xhr, accept, header, path_info

[predicate] These work like the corresponding arguments to config.add_route.


[predicate] The value is a list of functions. Each function should take a context and request argument, and return true or false whether the arguments are acceptable to the view. The view will be chosen only if all functions return true. Note that the function arguments are different than the corresponding option to config.add_route.

One view option you will not use with URL dispatch is the "name" argument. This is used only in traversal.


A renderer is a post-processor for a view. It converts the view's return value into a Response. This allows the view to avoid repetitive boilerplate code. Pyramid ships with the following renderers: Mako, Chameleon, String, JSON, and JSONP. The Mako and Chameleon renderers takes a dict, invoke the specified template on it, and return a Response. The String renderer converts any type to a string. The JSON and JSONP renderers convert any type to JSON or JSONP. (They use Python's json serializer, which accepts a limited variety of types.)

The non-template renderers have a constant name: renderer="string", renderer="json", renderer="jsonp". The template renderers are invoked by a template's filename extension, so renderer="mytemplate.mako" and renderer="mytemplate.mak" go to Mako. Note that you'll need to specify a Mako search path in the INI file or main function:

mako.directories = my_app_package:templates

Supposedly you can pass an asset spec rather than a relative path for the Mako renderer, and thus avoid defining a Mako search path, but I couldn't get it to work. Chameleon templates end in .pt and must be specified as an asset spec.

You can register third-party renderers for other template engines, and you can also re-register a renderer under a different filename extension. The Akhet demo has an example of making pyramid send templates ending in .html through Mako.

You can also invoke a renderer inside view code.

 1from pyramid.renderers import render, render_to_response
 3variables = {"dear": "Mr A", "sincerely": "Miss Z",
 4    "date":}
 6# Render a template to a string.
 7letter = render("form_letter.mako", variables, request=self.request)
 9# Render a template to a Response object.
10return render_to_response("mytemplate.mako", variables,
11    request=self.request)

Debugging views

If you're having trouble with a route or view not being chosen when you think it should be, try setting "pyramid.debug_notfound" and/or "pyramid.debug_routematch" to true in development.ini. It will log its reasoning to the console.

Multiple views using the same callable

You can stack multiple @view_config onto the same view method or function, in cases where the templates differ but the view logic is the same.

 1@view_config(route_name="help", renderer="help.mak")
 2@view_config(route_name="faq", renderer="faq.mak")
 3@view_config(route_name="privacy", renderer="privacy_policy.mak")
 4def template(request):
 5    return {}
 7@view_config(route_name="info", renderer="info.mak")
 8@view-config(route_name="info_json", renderer="json")
 9def info(request):
10    return {}