RESTful services

Routes makes it easy to configure RESTful web services. map.resource creates a set of add/modify/delete routes conforming to the Atom publishing protocol.

A resource route addresses members in a collection, and the collection itself. Normally a collection is a plural word, and a member is the corresponding singular word. For instance, consider a collection of messages:

map.resource("message", "messages")

# The above command sets up several routes as if you had typed the
# following commands:
map.connect("messages", "/messages",
    controller="messages", action="create",
map.connect("messages", "/messages",
    controller="messages", action="index",
map.connect("formatted_messages", "/messages.{format}",
    controller="messages", action="index",
map.connect("new_message", "/messages/new",
    controller="messages", action="new",
map.connect("formatted_new_message", "/messages/new.{format}",
    controller="messages", action="new",
    controller="messages", action="update",
    controller="messages", action="delete",
map.connect("edit_message", "/messages/{id}/edit",
    controller="messages", action="edit",
map.connect("formatted_edit_message", "/messages/{id}.{format}/edit",
    controller="messages", action="edit",
map.connect("message", "/messages/{id}",
    controller="messages", action="show",
map.connect("formatted_message", "/messages/{id}.{format}",
    controller="messages", action="show",

This establishes the following convention:

GET    /messages        => messages.index()    => url("messages")
POST   /messages        => messages.create()   => url("messages")
GET    /messages/new    =>      => url("new_message")
PUT    /messages/1      => messages.update(id) => url("message", id=1)
DELETE /messages/1      => messages.delete(id) => url("message", id=1)
GET    /messages/1      =>   => url("message", id=1)
GET    /messages/1/edit => messages.edit(id)   => url("edit_message", id=1)


Due to how Routes matches a list of URL’s, it has no inherent knowledge of a route being a resource. As such, if a route fails to match due to the method requirements not being met, a 404 will return just like any other failure to match a route.

Thus, you GET the collection to see an index of links to members (“index” method). You GET a member to see it (“show”). You GET “COLLECTION/new” to obtain a new message form (“new”), which you POST to the collection (“create”). You GET “MEMBER/edit” to obtain an edit for (“edit”), which you PUT to the member (“update”). You DELETE the member to delete it. Note that there are only four route names because multiple actions are doubled up on the same URLs.

This URL structure may look strange if you’re not used to the Atom protocol. REST is a vague term, and some people think it means proper URL syntax (every component contains the one on its right), others think it means not putting IDs in query parameters, and others think it means using HTTP methods beyond GET and POST. map.resource does all three, but it may be overkill for applications that don’t need Atom compliance or prefer to stick with GET and POST. map.resource has the advantage that many automated tools and non-browser agents will be able to list and modify your resources without any programming on your part. But you don’t have to use it if you prefer a simpler add/modify/delete structure.

HTML forms can produce only GET and POST requests. As a workaround, if a POST request contains a _method parameter, the Routes middleware changes the HTTP method to whatever the parameter specifies, as if it had been requested that way in the first place. This convention is becoming increasingly common in other frameworks. If you’re using WebHelpers, the The WebHelpers form function has a method argument which automatically sets the HTTP method and “_method” parameter.

Several routes are paired with an identical route containing the format variable. The intention is to allow users to obtain different formats by means of filename suffixes; e.g., “/messages/1.xml”. This produces a routing variable “xml”, which in Pylons will be passed to the controller action if it defines a formal argument for it. In generation you can pass the format argument to produce a URL with that suffix:

url("message", id=1, format="xml")  =>  "/messages/1.xml"

Routes does not recognize any particular formats or know which ones are valid for your application. It merely passes the format attribute through if it appears.

New in Routes 1.7.3: changed URL suffix from “;edit” to “/edit”. Semicolons are not allowed in the path portion of a URL except to delimit path parameters, which nobody uses.

Resource options

The map.resource method recognizes a number of keyword args which modifies its behavior:


Use the specified controller rather than deducing it from the collection name.


Additional URLs to allow for the collection. Example:

map.resource("message", "messages", collection={"rss": "GET"})
# "GET /message/rss"  =>  ``Messages.rss()``.
# Defines a named route "rss_messages".


Additional URLs to allow for a member. Example:

map.resource('message', 'messages', member={'mark':'POST'})
# "POST /message/1/mark"  =>  ``Messages.mark(1)``
# also adds named route "mark_message"

This can be used to display a delete confirmation form:

map.resource("message", "messages", member={"ask_delete": "GET"}
# "GET /message/1/ask_delete"   =>   ``Messages.ask_delete(1)``.
# Also adds a named route "ask_delete_message".


Additional URLs to allow for new-member functionality.

map.resource("message", "messages", new={"preview": "POST"})
# "POST /messages/new/preview"


Prepend the specified prefix to all URL patterns. The prefix may include path variables. This is mainly used to nest resources within resources.


Prefix the specified string to all route names. This is most often combined with path_prefix to nest resources:

map.resource("message", "messages", controller="categories",
# GET /category/7/message/1
# Adds named route "category_message"


A dict containing information about the parent resource, for creating a nested resource. It should contain the member_name and collection_name of the parent resource. This dict will be available via the associated Route object which can be accessed during a request via request.environ["routes.route"].

If parent_resource is supplied and path_prefix isn’t, path_prefix will be generated from parent_resource as “<parent collection name>/:<parent member name>_id”.

If parent_resource is supplied and name_prefix isn’t, name_prefix will be generated from parent_resource as “<parent member name>_”.


>>> m = Mapper()
>>> m.resource('location', 'locations',
...            parent_resource=dict(member_name='region',
...                                 collection_name='regions'))
>>> # path_prefix is "regions/:region_id"
>>> # name prefix is "region_"
>>> url('region_locations', region_id=13)
>>> url('region_new_location', region_id=13)
>>> url('region_location', region_id=13, id=60)
>>> url('region_edit_location', region_id=13, id=60)

Overriding generated path_prefix:

>>> m = Mapper()
>>> m.resource('location', 'locations',
...            parent_resource=dict(member_name='region',
...                                 collection_name='regions'),
...            path_prefix='areas/:area_id')
>>> # name prefix is "region_"
>>> url('region_locations', area_id=51)

Overriding generated name_prefix:

>>> m = Mapper()
>>> m.resource('location', 'locations',
...            parent_resource=dict(member_name='region',
...                                 collection_name='regions'),
...            name_prefix='')
>>> # path_prefix is "regions/:region_id"
>>> url('locations', region_id=51)