Create a Modeler PluginΒΆ

Now that we’ve created a WundergroundLocation component type, we need to create a modeler plugin to create locations in the database. We’re dealing with a custom HTTP API, so we’ll want to base our modeler plugin on the PythonPlugin class. This gives us full control of both the collection and processing of the modeling data.

The modeler plugin will pass each location the user has specified in the zWundergroundLocations property to Weather Underground’s AutoComplete API to retrieve some basic information about the location, and very importantly the l (link) that uniquely identifies the location. The link will later be used to monitor the alerts and conditions for the location.

Use the following steps to create our modeler plugin.

  1. Make the directory that will contain our modeler plugin.

    mkdir -p $ZP_DIR/modeler/plugins/WeatherUnderground
  2. Create or dunder-init files.

    touch $ZP_DIR/modeler/
    touch $ZP_DIR/modeler/plugins/
    touch $ZP_DIR/modeler/plugins/WeatherUnderground/

    These empty files are mandatory if we ever expect Python to import modules from these directories.

  3. Create $ZP_DIR/modeler/plugins/WeatherUnderground/ with the following contents.

    """Models locations using the Weather Underground API."""
    # stdlib Imports
    import json
    import urllib
    # Twisted Imports
    from twisted.internet.defer import inlineCallbacks, returnValue
    from twisted.web.client import getPage
    # Zenoss Imports
    from Products.DataCollector.plugins.CollectorPlugin import PythonPlugin
    class Locations(PythonPlugin):
        """Weather Underground locations modeler plugin."""
        relname = 'wundergroundLocations'
        modname = ''
        requiredProperties = (
        deviceProperties = PythonPlugin.deviceProperties + requiredProperties
        def collect(self, device, log):
            """Asynchronously collect data from device. Return a deferred."""
  "%s: collecting data",
            apikey = getattr(device, 'zWundergroundAPIKey', None)
            if not apikey:
                    "%s: %s not set. Get one from",
            locations = getattr(device, 'zWundergroundLocations', None)
            if not locations:
                    "%s: %s not set.",
            rm = self.relMap()
            for location in locations:
                    response = yield getPage(
                    response = json.loads(response)
                except Exception, e:
                        "%s: %s",, e)
                for result in response['RESULTS']:
                        'id': self.prepId(result['zmw']),
                        'title': result['name'],
                        'api_link': result['l'],
                        'country_code': result['c'],
                        'timezone': result['tzs'],
        def process(self, device, results, log):
            """Process results. Return iterable of datamaps or None."""
            return results

    While it looks like there’s quite a bit of code in this modeler plugin, a lot of that is the kind of error handling you’d want to do in a real modeler plugin. Let’s walk through some of the highlights.

    1. Imports

      We import the standard json module because the Weather Underground API returns json-encoded responses that we’ll want to convert to Python data structures.

      We import inlineCallBacks and returnValue because the PythonPlugin.collect method should return a Deferred so that it can be executed asynchronously by zenmodeler. You don’t need to use inlineCallbacks, but I find it to be a nice way to make Twisted’s asynchronous callback-based code look more procedural and be easier to understand. I recommend Dave Peticolas’ excellent Twisted Introduction for learning more about Twisted. inlineCallback is covered in part 17.

      We also import Twisted’s getPage function. This is an extremely easy to use function for asynchronously fetching a URL.

      We import PythonPlugin because it will be the base class for our modeler plugin class. It’s the best choice for modeling data from HTTP APIs.

    2. Locations Class

      Remember that your modeler plugin’s class name must match the filename or Zenoss won’t be able to load it. So because we named the file we must name the class Locations.

    3. relname and modname Properties

      These should be defined in this way for modeler plugins that fill a single relationship like we’re doing in this case. It states that this modeler plugin creates objects in the device’s wundergroundLocations relationship, and that it creates objects of the type within this relationship.

      Where does relname come from? It comes from the WundergroundDevice 1:MC WundergroundLocation relationship we defined in zenpack.yaml. Because it’s a to-many relationship to the WundergroundLocation type, zenpacklib will name the relationship by lowercasing the first letter and adding an “s” to the end to make it plural.

      Where does modname come from? It will be <name-of-zenpack>.<name-of- class>. So because we defined the WundergroundLocation class in, and the ZenPack’s name is, the modname will be

    4. deviceProperties Properties

      The class’ deviceProperties property provides a way to get additional device properties available to your modeler plugin’s collect and process methods. The default properties that will be available for a PythonPlugin are: id, manageIp, _snmpLastCollection, _snmpStatus, and zCollectorClientTimeout. Our modeler plugin will also need to know what values the user has set for zWundergroundAPIKey and zWundergroundLocations. So we add those to the defaults.

    5. collect Method

      The collect method is something PythonPlugin has, but other base modeler plugin types like SnmpPlugin don’t. This is because you must write the code to collect the data to be processed, and that’s exactly what you should do in the collect method.

      While the collect method can return either normal results or a Deferred, it is highly recommend to return a Deferred to keep zenmodeler from blocking while your collect method executes. In this example we’ve decorated the method with @inlineCallbacks and have returned out data at the end with returnValue(rm). This causes it to return a Deferred. By decorating the method with @inlineCallbacks we’re able to make an asynchronous request to the Weather Underground API with response = yield getPage(...).

      The first thing we do in the collect method is log an informational message to let the user know what we’re doing. This log will appear in zenmodeler.log, or on the console if we run zenmodeler in the foreground, or in the web interface when the user manually remodels the device.

      Next we make sure that the user has configured a value for zWundergroundAPIKey. This isn’t strictly necessary here because the modeler plugin only uses Weather Underground’s AutoComplete API which doesn’t require an API key. I put this check here because I didn’t want to get into a situation where the locations modeled successfully, but then failed to collect because an API key wasn’t set.

      Next we make suer that the user as configured at least one location in zWundergroundLocations. This is mandatory because this controls what locations will be modeled.

      Next we create rm which is a common convention we use in modeler plugins and stands for RelationshipMap. Because we set the relname and modname class properties this will create a RelationshipMap with it’s relname and modname set to the same.

      Now we iterate through each location making a call to the AutoComplete API for each. For each matching location in the response we will append an ObjectMap to rm with some key properties set.

      • id is mandatory and should be set to a value unique to all components on the device. If you look back the example AutoComplete response you’ll see that the zmw property is useful for this purpose. Note that prepId should always be used for id. It will make any string safe to use as a Zenoss id.
      • title will default to the value of id if it isn’t set. It’s usually a good idea to explicitly set it as we’re doing here. It should be a human-friendly label for the component. The location’s name is a good candidate for this. It will look something like “Austin, Texas”.
      • api_link is a property we defined for the WundergroundLocation class in zenpack.yaml. This is where we’ll store the returned link or l property. This will be important for monitoring the alerts and conditions of the location later on.
      • country_code is another property we defined. It’s purely informational and will simply be shown to the user when they’re viewing the location in the web interface.
      • timezeone is another property we defined just for informational purposes.
    6. process Method

      The process method is usually where you take the data in the results argument and process it into DataMaps to return. However, in the case of PythonPlugin modeler plugins, the data returned from the collect method will be passed into process as the results argument. In this case that is already completely processed data. So we just return it.

  4. Restart Zenoss.

    After adding a new modeler plugin you must restart Zenoss. During development like this, it would be enough to just restart Zope and zenhub with the following commands.

    serviced service restart zope
    serviced service restart zenhub

That’s it. The modeler plugin has been created. Now we just need to do some Zenoss configuration to allow us to use it.