Understanding sessions

All communication with an ftrack server takes place through a Session. This allows more opportunity for configuring the connection, plugins etc. and also makes it possible to connect to multiple ftrack servers from within the same Python process.


A session can be manually configured at runtime to connect to a server with certain credentials:

>>> session = ftrack_api.Session(
...     server_url='https://mycompany.ftrackapp.com',
...     api_key='7545384e-a653-11e1-a82c-f22c11dd25eq',
...     api_user='martin'
... )

Alternatively, a session can use the following environment variables to configure itself:

When using environment variables, no server connection arguments need to be passed manually:

>>> session = ftrack_api.Session()

Unit of work

Each session follows the unit of work pattern. This means that many of the operations performed using a session will happen locally and only be persisted to the server at certain times, notably when calling Session.commit(). This approach helps optimise calls to the server and also group related logic together in a transaction:

user = session.create('User', {})
user['username'] = 'martin'
other_user = session.create('User', {'username': 'bjorn'})
other_user['email'] = 'bjorn@example.com'

Behind the scenes a series of operations are recorded reflecting the changes made. You can take a peek at these operations if desired by examining the Session.recorded_operations property:

>>> for operation in session.recorded_operations:
...     print operation
<ftrack_api.operation.CreateEntityOperation object at 0x0000000003EC49B0>
<ftrack_api.operation.UpdateEntityOperation object at 0x0000000003E16898>
<ftrack_api.operation.CreateEntityOperation object at 0x0000000003E16240>
<ftrack_api.operation.UpdateEntityOperation object at 0x0000000003E16128>

Calling Session.commit() persists all recorded operations to the server and clears the operation log:



The commit call will optimise operations to be as efficient as possible without breaking logical ordering. For example, a create followed by updates on the same entity will be compressed into a single create.

Queries are special and always issued on demand. As a result, a query may return unexpected results if the relevant local changes have not yet been sent to the server:

>>> user = session.create('User', {'username': 'some_unique_username'})
>>> query = 'User where username is "{0}"'.format(user['username'])
>>> print len(session.query(query))
>>> session.commit()
>>> print len(session.query(query))

Where possible, query results are merged in with existing data transparently with any local changes preserved:

>>> user = session.query('User').first()
>>> user['email'] = 'me@example.com'  # Not yet committed to server.
>>> retrieved = session.query(
...     'User where id is "{0}"'.format(user['id'])
... ).one()
>>> print retrieved['email']  # Displays locally set value.
>>> print retrieved is user

This is possible due to the smart Caching layer in the session.


Another important concept in a session is that of auto-population. By default a session is configured to auto-populate missing attribute values on access. This means that the first time you access an attribute on an entity instance a query will be sent to the server to fetch the value:

user = session.query('User').first()
# The next command will issue a request to the server to fetch the
# 'username' value on demand at this is the first time it is accessed.
print user['username']

Once a value has been retrieved it is cached locally in the session and accessing it again will not issue more server calls:

# On second access no server call is made.
print user['username']

You can control the auto population behaviour of a session by either changing the Session.auto_populate attribute on a session or using the provided context helper Session.auto_populating() to temporarily change the setting. When turned off you may see a special NOT_SET symbol that represents a value has not yet been fetched:

>>> with session.auto_populating(False):
...     print user['email']

Whilst convenient for simple scripts, making many requests to the server for each attribute can slow execution of a script. To support optimisation the API includes methods for batch fetching attributes. Read about them in Optimising using projections and Populating entities.

Entity types

When a session has successfully connected to the server it will automatically download schema information and create appropriate classes for use. This is important as different servers can support different entity types and configurations.

This information is readily available and useful if you need to check that the entity types you expect are present. Here’s how to print a list of all entity types registered for use in the current API session:

>>> print session.types.keys()
[u'Task', u'Shot', u'TypedContext', u'Sequence', u'Priority',
 u'Status', u'Project', u'User', u'Type', u'ObjectType']

Each entity type is backed by a customisable class that further describes the entity type and the attributes that are available.


If you need to use an isinstance() check, always go through the session as the classes are built dynamically:

>>> isinstance(entity, session.types['Project'])

Configuring plugins

Plugins are used by the API to extend it with new functionality, such as locations or adding convenience methods to Entity types. In addition to new API functionality, event plugins may also be used for event processing by listening to ftrack update events or adding custom functionality to ftrack by registering actions.

When starting a new Session either pass the plugins_paths to search explicitly or rely on the environment variable FTRACK_EVENT_PLUGIN_PATH. As each session is independent of others, you can configure plugins per session.

The paths will be searched for plugins, python files which expose a register function. These functions will be evaluated and can be used extend the API with new functionality, such as locations or actions.

If you do not specify any override then the session will attempt to discover and use the default plugins.

Plugins are discovered using ftrack_api.plugin.discover() with the session instance passed as the sole positional argument. Most plugins should take the form of a mount function that then subscribes to specific events on the session:

def configure_locations(event):
    '''Configure locations for session.'''
    session = event['data']['session']
    # Find location(s) and customise instances.

def register(session):
    '''Register plugin with *session*.'''

Additional keyword arguments can be passed as plugin_arguments to the Session on instantiation. These are passed to the plugin register function if its signature supports them:

# a_plugin.py
def register(session, reticulate_splines=False):
    '''Register plugin with *session*.'''

# main.py
session = ftrack_api.Session(
        'reticulate_splines': True,
        'some_other_argument': 42

See also

Lists of events which you can subscribe to in your plugins are available both for synchronous event published by the python API and asynchronous events published by the server

Quick setup

1. Create a directory where plugins will be stored. Place any plugins you want loaded automatically in an API session here.

  1. Configure the FTRACK_EVENT_PLUGIN_PATH to point to the directory.

Detailed setup

Start out by creating a directory on your machine where you will store your plugins. Download example_plugin.py and place it in the directory.

Open up a terminal window, and ensure that plugin is picked up when instantiating the session and manually setting the plugin_paths:

>>>  # Set up basic logging
>>> import logging
>>> logging.basicConfig()
>>> plugin_logger = logging.getLogger('com.example.example-plugin')
>>> plugin_logger.setLevel(logging.DEBUG)
>>> # Configure the API, loading plugins in the specified paths.
>>> import ftrack_api
>>> plugin_paths = ['/path/to/plugins']
>>> session = ftrack_api.Session(plugin_paths=plugin_paths)

If everything is working as expected, you should see the following in the output:

DEBUG:com.example.example-plugin:Plugin registered

Instead of specifying the plugin paths when instantiating the session, you can also specify the FTRACK_EVENT_PLUGIN_PATH to point to the directory. To specify multiple directories, use the path separator for your operating system.