I wanted to do a Todo List web application that I could pass on to my kids to try. My goal was to give them an introduction to SQL, Web interfaces and Web templating.
For the Todo List application the Python Bottle Web Framework will be used. The Bottle library is a lightweight standalone micro web framework.
To store the Todo list items an SQLite database is used. SQLite is a file based server-less SQL (Structured Query Language) database which is ideal for small standalone applications.
Finally to build Web page, Python web templates will be used. The advantage of using web templates is that is reduces the amount of code written and it separates the presentation component from the backend logic.
Getting Started with Bottle
To install the Python bottle library:
pip install bottle
As a test we can make a program that has a home page (“/”) and a second page, then links can be put on each of the page to move back and forward.
The @route is a decorator that links a URL call, like “/” the home page to a function. In this example a call to the home page “/” will call the home_page() function.
In the home_page() and pages2() functions the return call is used to pass HTML text to the web browser. The anchor tag (<a) is used to define page links.
The run() function will start the Bottle micro web server on: http://127.0.0.1:8080/
The output is below.
The Python SQLite library is one of the base libraries that is installed with Python.
SQLite has a number of tools and utilities that help manage your databases. One useful light weight application is: DB Browser for SQLite. It is important to note that SQLite data can be view by multiple applications, but for edits/deletes only 1 application can be accessing SQLite.
For the Todo list we’ll start with a simple database structure using three fields:
- Category – this a grouping such as: shopping, projects, activities etc.
- theItem – this is the actual to do item
- id – an unique index for each item. (This will used later for deleting rows)
The Todo database can be created with the SQLite Brower, or in Python code. The code below creates that database, adds a todo table and then inserts some records.
import sqlite3 print("Create a todo list database...") conn = sqlite3.connect('todo.db') # Warning: This file is created in the current directory conn.execute("CREATE TABLE todo (category char(50), theitem char(100),id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY )") conn.execute("INSERT INTO todo (category, theitem) VALUES ('Shopping','eggs')") conn.execute("INSERT INTO todo (category, theitem) VALUES ('Shopping','milk')") conn.execute("INSERT INTO todo (category, theitem) VALUES ('Shopping','bread')") conn.execute("INSERT INTO todo (category, theitem) VALUES ('Activities','snow tires')") conn.execute("INSERT INTO todo (category, theitem) VALUES ('Activities','rack lawn')") conn.commit() print("Database todo.db created")
The DB Browser can be used to view the newly created database.
Viewing the Data in Python
An SQL SELECT command is used to get all the records in the todo database. A fetchall() method is will return all the database rows in a Python tuple variable. Below is the code to write the raw returned data to a browser page.
The output formatting can be improved by adding a sort to the SQL SELECT statement and then HTML code are be used to show category heading.
For small applications putting HTML code in the Python code is fine, however for larger web projects it is recommended that the HTML be separated out from the database or backend code.
Web templates allow you to separate the database and back end logic from the web presentation. Bottle has a built-in template engine called Simple Template Engine. I found it did everything that I needed to do. It’s possible to use other Python template libraries, such as Jinja, Mako or Cheetah, if you feel you need some added functionality.
The earlier Python code is simplified by removing the HTML formatting logic. A template object is created with a template name of sometime.tpl). An example would be:
output = template(‘make_table0‘, rows=result, headings = sqlheadings)
Where rows and headings are variable names that are used in the template file. The template file make_table0.tpl is in the working directory.
Templates are HTML pages with inline Python code. Python code can either be in blocks with a <% to start the block and a %> to end the block, or each line can start with %.
Two of the major differences of inline template Python code are:
- indenting the line of Python is not required or used
- control statements like : if and for need an end statement
A template that takes the SQL results and writes each row in a table would look like:
A template that take the SQL results and writes a category heading and lists the items would look like:
Include ADD and DELETE to the Templates
The next step is to include ADD and DELETE functionality.
For the DELETE functionality, a form is added to the existing template. A ‘Delete’ button is placed beside all the Todo items and the button passes the unique index id (row) of the item. The form has a POST request with the action going to the page ‘/delete‘ on the Bottle Web Server.
For the ADD functionality, a new template is created and a %include call is put at the bottom of the main template. (You could also put everything in one file).
The main template now looks like:
The new item template uses a dropdown HTML element with some predefined category options (Activities, Projects and Shopping). The item text will displace 25 characters but more can be entered. Pressing the save button will generate a POST request to the “/new” URL on the Bottle server.
The new_todo.tpl file is:
Bottle Python Code with /add and /delete Routes
The final step is to include routes for the /add and /delete URL references.
The new_item() function gets the category and Todo item from the form in the new_todo template. If the request passes a non-blank item (request.forms.get(“theitem”) then an SQL INSERT command will add a row. The unique item ID is automatically included because this field is defined as an index key.
The delete_item() function reads the unique item id that is passed from the button to issue an SQL DELETE statement.
At the end of the new_item() and delete_item() function the user is redirected back to the home (“/”) page.
The application will look something like:
Some of the final clean-up could include:
- enlarge the database to include fields like: status, due date, who is responsible etc.
- add an “Are you sure?” prompt before doing adds and deletes
- verify double entries aren’t included
- include an edit feature
- make the interface slicker
If you want to speed up the performance PyPy can be used instead of the Python interpreter. To use Pypy (after you’ve installed it), you will need to install the pip and bottle:
pypy3 -m ensurepip --user pypy3 -mpip install bottle --user
As I was working on this I found a good BottleTutorial: Todo-List Application. This tutorial approaches the Todo list project differently but it is still a worthwhile reference.