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Awesome Open Source

Slapdash

Boilerplate for bootstrapping scalable multi-page Dash applications

Dash is a Python framework for building analytical web applications. Slapdash provides a sensible project layout for quickly building out a multi-page Dash application with room for growth. It also includes:

  • Pre-built layouts based on Bootstrap (with the help of Dash Bootstrap Components), which can be extended or swapped out for layouts constructed using your own Dash/CSS components.
  • Scripts for conveniently launching your app in both dev and prod environments
  • A URL router that helps you manage your application's pages

This project is intended for bootstrapping initial Dash applications, rather than being a dependency for your application. You shouldn't assume that Slapdash's internal structure and interfaces will be stable, as they will change.

Boilerplate Overview

  • __init__.py Contains helper functions for creating the Flask and Dash instances.
  • app.py Entry point into the app. Creates both the Flask and Dash instances used for the app and then imports the rest of the app through the index module.
  • index.py URL routes and the router are defined here, along with the navbar and its corresponding entries.
  • wsgi.py Contains the Flask application attribute suitable for pointing WSGI servers at.
  • settings.py Configurable settings for the application.
  • prod_settings.py Configurable settings for running the application in a production environment. Settings defined here will take precedence over those found in settings.py.
  • exceptions.py Exceptions used by your app can be defined here.
  • components.py Convenient Python pseudo-components are defined here.
  • utils.py Utility things.
  • pages The suggested project layout is to place each page of your app within this directory, treating each page as a modular sub-app containing a layouts attribute that you can register with the router in index.py.
  • assets Location for static assets that will be exposed to the web server.

Installation

Note: Slapdash requires Python 3.6+

Slapdash is a Cookiecutter project. This means you first need to generate your own project from the Slapdash project template.

Install the latest Cookiecutter if you haven't installed it yet:

pip install -U cookiecutter

Generate your project by running this command and following the prompts:

cookiecutter https://github.com/ned2/slapdash

The resulting project is a Python package, which you then need to install like so:

$ pip install PATH_TO_PROJECT

During development you will likely want to perform an editable install so that changes to the source code take immediate effect on the installed package.

$ pip install -e PATH_TO_PROJECT

Usage

  1. In app.py, select the main layout you want from layouts.py.
  2. Create the pages of your app in different files within the pages directory, by defining within each a top-level layout attribute and callbacks registered with the Dash app instance from the appmodule.
  3. Add the pages of your app to the URL router inindex.py.
  4. Add any desired pages to nav bar in index.py.
  5. Modify assets/slapdash.css or add additional stylesheets in assets.
  6. Modify config in settings.py as required.

The URL Router

Slapdash uses Dash's built-in support for creating multi-page apps. This involves creating a callback that targets a container html.Div in your layout, and injects layout fragments into the children property of the container when users click on links constructed with dcc.Link. Slapdash provides a convenience class DashRouter, which assists with the construction of this callback. The following snippet provides an example of its use:

urls = (
    ("", page1.layout),
    ("page1", page1.layout),
    ("page2", page2.layout),
    ("page3", page3.get_layout),
)

router = DashRouter(app, urls)

The DashRouter class takes as input a Dash instance, and a sequence of URL tuples, where each tuple contains a string representing the URL endpoint for the page as the first item, and the layout fragment to associate with that URL as the second. The layout fragment can either be an instance of Dash's Component class (such as an html.Div) or a callable that returns a Component instance, such as the function get_layout in the above snippet. This callable should take a variable number of keyword arguments, as any query parameters present in the URL will be passed into the layout callable as keyword arguments. for example you could pass values into the layout function below using the URL http://hostname?param1=value1&param2=value2.

def get_layout(**query_params):
    param1_value = query_params.get("param1", "param1 not provided")
    param2_value = query_params.get("param2", "param1 not provided")
    return html.Div([param1_value, param2_value])

Note that the URL endpoints will be automatically prefixed with Dash's 'routes_pathname_prefix' parameter, so when specifying internal URL links within your layout, you will want to use util.get_url which prefixes the URL path for you.

Loading Spinners

Slapdash comes with some CSS loading spinners built-in. In order to use them, simply add one of the classes loader or loader-fade to the component you want to be visually rendered as loading while it is waiting for a callback to complete. Both spinners will wait one second before being applied to avoid an unpleasant flickering effect for responsive callbacks. The loader spinner will hide the contents of the component and display a spinner, while the loader-fade will reduce the opacity of the component's contents and also display a spinner.

Running Your App

This project comes with two convenience scripts for running your project in development and production environments, or you can use your own WSGI server to run the app.

Run Dev App

Installing this package into your virtualenv will result into the development executable being installed into your path when the virtualenv is activated. This command invokes your Dash app's run_server method, which in turn uses the Flask development server to run your app. The command is invoked as follows, with proj_slug being replaced by the value provided for this cookiecutter parameter.

$ run-project_slug-dev

The script takes a couple of arguments optional parameters, which you can discover with the --help flag. You may need to set the port using the --port parameter. If you need to expose your app outside your local machine, you will want to set --host 0.0.0.0.

Run Prod App

While convenient, the development webserver should not be used in production. Installing this package will also result in a production executable being installed in your virtualenv. This is a wrapper around the mod_wsgi-express command, which streamlines use of the mod_wsgi Apache module to run your your app. In addition to installing the mod_wsgi Python package, you will need to have installed Apache. See installation instructions in the mod_wsgi documentation. This script also takes a range of command line arguments, which can be discovered with the --help flag.

$ run-project_slug-prod

This script will also apply settings found in the module project_slug.prod_settings (or a custom Python file supplied with the --settings flag) and which takes precedence over the same settings found in project_slug.settings.

A notable advantage of using mod_wsgi over other WSGI servers is that we do not need to configure and run a web server separate to the WSGI server. When using other WSGI servers (such as Gunicorn or uWSGI), you do not want to expose them directly to web requests from the outside world for two reasons: 1) incoming requests will not be buffered, exposing you to potential denial of service attacks, and 2) you will be serving your static assets via Dash's Flask instance, which is slow. The production script uses mod_wsgi-express to spin up an Apache process (separate to any process already running and listening on port 80) that will buffer requests, passing them off to the worker processes running your app, and will also set up the Apache instance to serve your static assets much faster than would be the case through the Python worker processes.

Note: You will need to reinstall this package in order for changes to the prod script to take effect even if you used an editable install (ie pip install -e).

Running with a different WSGI Server

You can easily run your app using a WSGI server of your choice (such as Gunicorn for example) with the project_slug.wsgi entry point (defined in wsgi.py) like so:

$ gunicorn project_slug.wsgi

Note: if you want to enable Dash's debug mode while running with a WSGI server, you'll need to export the DASH_DEBUG environment variable to true. See the Dev Tools section of the Dash Docs for more details.

Included Libraries

Slapdash includes a few libraries for getting fully functional applications off the ground faster. These include:

  • Dash Bootstrap Components: A suite of Dash components that wrap Bootstrap classes, allowing for cleaner integration of Bootstrap with Dash layouts.
  • Bootstrap - Local copy of Bootstrap CSS files so you can run the app offline.
  • Font Awesome - Local copy of Font Awesome files for offline access. Because everyone wants pretty icons.

Useful References

  1. The Dash User Guide

  2. Plotly Python client figure reference Documents the contents of plotly.graph_objs, which contains the different types of charts available, as well the Layout class, for customising the appearance of charts.

  3. The Dash Community Forum

  4. Dash Show and Tell Community Thread

  5. The Dash GitHub Repository

Contributing

PRs are welcome! If you have broader changes in mind, then creating an issue first for discussion would be best.

Seeting up a Dev Environment

After changing directory to the top level Slapdash directory:

  1. Install Slapdash into your virtualenv:
    $ pip install -e .
    
  2. Install the development requirements:
    $ pip install -r requirements-dev.txt
    
  3. Install the pre-commit hook (for the Black code formatter)
    $ pre-commit install
    

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