WSGI Application

The Avalon WSGI application is meant to be run with a Python WSGI server such as Gunicorn.

The application will…

  • Load music collection meta data from a database (as specified by the configuration files described below).
  • Build structures that can be used to search and query a music collection.
  • Begin serving HTTP requests with a JSON API.


The main entry point for the Avalon Music Server WSGI application is the module – the WSGI callable is the attribute application within the module. An example of how to use this module and callable with Gunicorn (with three worker processes) is below.

$ gunicorn --preload --workers 3

Note that we’re using the --preload mode which will save us memory when using multiple worker processes.


The Avalon WSGI application uses an embedded default configuration file. Settings in that file (described below) can be overridden with a custom configuration file generated as below (assuming the Avalon Music Server has already been installed).

$ avalon-echo-config > /var/www/avalon/

The file at /var/www/avalon/ will be an exact copy of the default configuration file. You can change the settings in this new copy and they will override the default settings. Any settings you do not change (or settings removed from the file) will use their default values.

After you have customized this file, you need to tell the Avalon WSGI application to use this file. This is done by setting the value of the AVALON_CONFIG environmental variable to the path of this configuration file. An example (once again, using Gunicorn) is below.

$ gunicorn --env AVALON_CONFIG=/var/www/avalon/ \
    --preload --workers 3


The following configuration settings are available to customize the behavior of the Avalon WSGI application. The table below describes the settings and how they are used.


Note that some settings available in the configuration are not meant to be changed by end users and are hence omitted below.

DATABASE_URL URL that describes the type of database to connect to and the credentials for connecting to it. The URL must be one supported by SQLAlchemy. For example, to connect to a local SQLite database: sqlite:////var/db/avalon.sqlite, or to connect to a remote PostgreSQL database: postgresql+psycopg2://user:password@server/database
LOG_DATE_FORMAT Date format for timestamps in logging messages. The supported tokens for this setting are described in the Python documentation.
LOG_FORMAT Format for messages logged directly by the Avalon Music Server. See the Python logging documentation for more information.
LOG_LEVEL How verbose should logging done by the Avalon WSGI application be? By default, all messages INFO and higher are logging. Available levels are DEBUG, INFO, WARN, ERROR, and CRITICAL. Setting this to a higher value means that fewer messages will be logged, but you may miss some useful messages.
LOG_PATH Where should messages be logged to? By default all messages are logged to the STDERR stream (the console). Typically, these will be captured by the Supervisord daemon and end up in a log file. If you would like to have the Avalon WSGI application write to the file itself, set this to the path of the file.
REQUEST_PATH Base path to use for handling requests to the WSGI application. For example, with a value of ‘/avalon’ the heartbeat endpoint will be at ‘/avalon/heartbeat’. With a value of ‘/’ the heartbeat endpoint will be at ‘/heartbeat’. Note that this value must begin with a ‘/’, may not end with a ‘/’, and will apply to all URLs handled by the Avalon Music Server. The default is ‘/avalon’.
SENTRY_DSN URL that describes how to log errors to a centralized 3rd party error-logging service, Sentry. This functionality is disabled by default. Enabling this logging requires supplying a Sentry DSN configuration string and installing the Raven Sentry client.
STATSD_HOST Hostname to write Statsd timers and counters to if there is a client installed. The expected client will discard any errors encountered when trying to write metrics so setting this value to a host not running the Statsd daemon is equivalent to disabling it.
STATSD_PORT Port to write Statsd timers and counters to. Port 8125 is the port that the Etsy Statsd implementation runs on by default.
STATSD_PREFIX Prefix all metrics emitted with this string. Useful to make sure metrics from the Avalon Music Server don’t pollute the top-level namespace. You may want further split metrics by the environment you are running in (dev vs staging vs prod). This can be done by adding a dot-separated string to the existing prefix, e.g. ‘avalon.prd’ or ‘’.



The Avalon Music Server CLI tool avalon-scan writes music metadata to a database when it scans a music collection. The WSGI application and reads the meta back when it starts.

In each case, when connecting to a database for the first time, the CLI script and the WSGI application will attempt to create the required database schema if it does not already exist.

Provided that you attempt to scan your music collection before running the WSGI application, the scanning portion must have read/write access to the database and the WSGI application must have read access. Otherwise, if you are running the WSGI application, connecting to a database before inserting anything into it via scanning, the WSGI application will attempt create the required schema and will require read/write access.


The Avalon WSGI application is, for the most part, CPU bound and immutable after start up. Therefore it is a good fit for multiprocess workers and (if your Python implementation doesn’t have a Global-Interpreter-Lock) threaded workers.


By default, the Avalon WSGI application sends logging messages to STDERR. This means that if you want to send these messages to a file or a Syslog, you have to configure the logging of the WSGI HTTP server that you are using to run it (or the process manager that runs the WSGI HTTP server).

The Avalon WSGI application can also be configured to send log messages directly to a log file. In this case, the file must be writable by the user that the application is being run as.


Sentry is a centralized, 3rd-party, error-logging service. It is available as a paid, hosted, service. However, both the client and server are Free Software and can be run by anyone.

The Avalon WSGI application will optionally log unhandled exceptions to a Sentry instance provided these things are true (otherwise logging to Sentry will not be used).

  1. The Sentry client is installed and can be imported.
  2. There is a SENTRY_DSN configuration setting available and correctly configured.

To install the client run the following command from within the virtualenv that the Avalon WSGI application is installed in.

$ pip install raven


Statsd is a daemon that listens for metrics sent over UDP and periodically pushes them to Graphite.

The Avalon WSGI application will optionally record the execution time of each endpoint if the Statsd client is installed. The Statsd service to send metrics to can be configured with the STATSD_HOST and STATSD_PORT configuration settings.

To install the client run the following command from within the virtualenv that the Avalon WSGI application is installed in.

$ pip install statsd


If you followed the steps in Installation you should be able to use the bundled Fabric deploy scripts to manage your Avalon WSGI application installation.

Note that the Fabric deploy scripts will also install the Gunicorn HTTP server and a client for the Sentry service (however, Sentry won’t be used unless you have explicitly configured it).

Some assumptions made by the Fabric deploy scripts:

  • You have already created and set the permissions of the directory that will be getting deployed to (as described in installation).
  • You have SSH access to the server you are deploying to.
  • You have the ability to sudo on the server you are deploying to.

If all these things are true, you should be able to deploy a new version of the Avalon WSGI application with a few simple steps.

First, make sure the build environment is clean and then generate packages to install.

$ fab clean build.released

Next, upload the generated packages, and install them.

$ fab -H deploy.install

Restart the Avalon WSGI application if it’s already running.

$ fab -H deploy.restart

That’s it! The Avalon WSGI application should now be running on your server.