Reports / February 2020


I’ve been spending some time working on how we can improve the state of realtime web functionality in Python.

One core component that’s required for scaling realtime systems past a single host is having some kind of mechanism for “broadcasting” messages across multiple servers.

Having a broadcast mechanism allows hosts to subscribe to a particular channel, such as “chat events in the ‘python’ chatroom”, and receive all events that occur on that channel event, regardless of if the event occurs on the same host server or not.

The outcome of this work so far is a new package, broadcaster, which provides a broadcast API onto a number of different backend services, currently including:

Comparing Django Channels and Broadcaster

Django already has an answer to broadcasting messages, in the form of Django Channels. With Django Channels, broadcast functionality is communicated using the ASGI send/receive messages, with a “Channel Layer” acting as a message bus for both WebSocket messaging and broadcast events.

The approach in the broadcaster is different, in that a broadcast backend is treated as an independent backing service, configured similarly to a database backend, or a cache backend. The core package provides a simple consistent interface for subscribing to a channel or or broadcasting a message onto a channel, while the backend implementation handles marshaling those API calls into the actual network calls for the particular backend implementation.


Given that Django Channels currently exists, it’s fair to ask why take another approach onto broadcast functionality? I think broadcaster is a lighter approach that’s more likely to be suitable for integrating with other existing frameworks. It’ll also allow us to explore adding functionality such as APIs for retrieving event history.


Another package released in the last month is httpcore. The HTTP Core package is an absolutely minimal HTTP client that doesn’t provide any client smarts such as redirect handling, session cookies, URL parsing, multipart uploads, or anything at all other than simply “send an HTTP request and return a response”.

The intent is to use httpcore as the backend to httpx, so that there’s a meticulously clear interface split between the high-level client, and the low-level network handling.

Django REST framework

There’s been continuing triage on REST framework, and Carlton Gibson has been progressing some of the Open API related issues.

Ideally REST framework could do with a funded part time position in the way that we’ve been able to offer at some points in the past, although we’re not in a financial position to do that currently.


Our total revenue for the last month was about £5,300. Operating costs including desk space, accountants, and various hosting and services were around £650, without pricing in for conference costs.

Call for sponsors

While I wouldn’t describe Encode as “at risk” yet, we’re pretty tight on supporting a full time salary right now. I regularly turn down freelance work in order to keep focusing on Open Source work, and I’d like to remain in a position where I can continue to do so without the business coming under too much pressure.

Our impact in the Python Web space includes:

You can sign up as a sponsor on GitHub or via our REST framework sponsorship site.

Thanks as ever to all our sponsors, contributors, and users,

— Tom Christie, 2nd March, 2020.