1. Steve Losh
  2. hg-review


hg-review / bundled / flask / docs / quickstart.rst


Eager to get started? This page gives a good introduction in how to get started with Flask. This assumes you already have Flask installed. If you do not, head over to the :ref:`installation` section.

A Minimal Application

A minimal Flask application looks something like that:

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)

def hello_world():
    return "Hello World!"

if __name__ == '__main__':

Just save it as hello.py or something similar and run it with your Python interpreter. Make sure to not call your application flask.py because this would conflict with Flask itself.

$ python hello.py
 * Running on

Head over to, you should see your hello world greeting.

So what did that code do?

  1. First we imported the :class:`~flask.Flask` class. An instance of this class will be our WSGI application. The first argument is the name of the application's module. If you are using a single module (like here) you should use __name__ because depending on if it's started as application or imported as module the name will be different ('__main__' versus the actual import name). For more information on that, have a look at the :class:`~flask.Flask` documentation.
  2. Next we create an instance of it. We pass it the name of the module / package. This is needed so that Flask knows where it should look for templates, static files and so on.
  3. Then we use the :meth:`~flask.Flask.route` decorator to tell Flask what URL should trigger our function.
  4. The function then has a name which is also used to generate URLs to that particular function, and returns the message we want to display in the user's browser.
  5. Finally we use the :meth:`~flask.Flask.run` function to run the local server with our application. The if __name__ == '__main__': makes sure the server only runs if the script is executed directly from the Python interpreter and not used as imported module.

To stop the server, hit control-C.

Externally Visible Server

If you run the server you will notice that the server is only available from your own computer, not from any other in the network. This is the default because in debugging mode a user of the application can execute arbitrary Python code on your computer. If you have debug disabled or trust the users on your network, you can make the server publicly available.

Just change the call of the :meth:`~flask.Flask.run` method to look like this:


This tells your operating system to listen on a public IP.

Debug Mode

The :meth:`~flask.Flask.run` method is nice to start a local development server, but you would have to restart it manually after each change you do to code. That is not very nice and Flask can do better. If you enable the debug support the server will reload itself on code changes and also provide you with a helpful debugger if things go wrong.

There are two ways to enable debugging. Either set that flag on the application object:

app.debug = True

Or pass it to run:


Both will have exactly the same effect.


Even though the interactive debugger does not work in forking environments (which makes it nearly impossible to use on production servers), it still allows the execution of arbitrary code. That makes it a major security risk and therefore it must never be used on production machines.

Screenshot of the debugger in action:

screenshot of debugger in action


Modern web applications have beautiful URLs. This helps people remember the URLs which is especially handy for applications that are used from mobile devices with slower network connections. If the user can directly go to the desired page without having to hit the index page it is more likely he will like the page and come back next time.

As you have seen above, the :meth:`~flask.Flask.route` decorator is used to bind a function to a URL. Here are some basic examples:

def index():
    return 'Index Page'

def hello():
    return 'Hello World'

But there is more to it! You can make certain parts of the URL dynamic and attach multiple rules to a function.

Variable Rules

To add variable parts to a URL you can mark these special sections as <variable_name>. Such a part is then passed as keyword argument to your function. Optionally a converter can be specified by specifying a rule with <converter:variable_name>. Here are some nice examples:

def show_user_profile(username):
    # show the user profile for that user

def show_post(post_id):
    # show the post with the given id, the id is an integer

The following converters exist:

int accepts integers
float like int but for floating point values
path like the default but also accepts slashes

Unique URLs / Redirection Behaviour

Flask's URL rules are based on Werkzeug's routing module. The idea behind that module is to ensure nice looking and also unique URLs based on behaviour Apache and earlier servers coined.

Take these two rules:

def projects():

def about():

They look rather similar, the difference is the trailing slash in the URL definition. In the first case, the canonical URL for the projects endpoint has a trailing slash. It's similar to a folder in that sense. Accessing it without a trailing slash will cause Flask to redirect to the canonical URL with the trailing slash.

However in the second case the URL is defined without a slash so it behaves similar to a file and accessing the URL with a trailing slash will be a 404 error.

Why is this? This allows relative URLs to continue working if users access the page when they forget a trailing slash. This behaviour is also consistent with how Apache and other servers work. Also, the URLs will stay unique which helps search engines not indexing the same page twice.

URL Building

If it can match URLs, can it also generate them? Of course it can. To build a URL to a specific function you can use the :func:`~flask.url_for` function. It accepts the name of the function as first argument and a number of keyword arguments, each corresponding to the variable part of the URL rule. Unknown variable parts are appended to the URL as query parameter. Here are some examples:

>>> from flask import Flask, url_for
>>> app = Flask(__name__)
>>> @app.route('/')
... def index(): pass
>>> @app.route('/login')
... def login(): pass
>>> @app.route('/user/<username>')
... def profile(username): pass
>>> with app.test_request_context():
...  print url_for('index')
...  print url_for('login')
...  print url_for('login', next='/')
...  print url_for('profile', username='John Doe')

(This also uses the :meth:`~flask.Flask.test_request_context` method explained below. It basically tells Flask to think we are handling a request even though we are not, we are in an interactive Python shell. Have a look at the explanation below. :ref:`context-locals`).

Why would you want to build URLs instead of hardcoding them in your templates? There are three good reasons for this:

  1. reversing is often more descriptive than hardcoding the URLs. Also and more importantly you can change URLs in one go without having to change the URLs all over the place.
  2. URL building will handle escaping of special characters and Unicode data transparently for you, you don't have to deal with that.
  3. If your application is placed outside the URL root (so say in /myapplication instead of /), :func:`~flask.url_for` will handle that properly for you.

HTTP Methods

HTTP (the protocol web applications are speaking) knows different methods to access URLs. By default a route only answers to GET requests, but that can be changed by providing the methods argument to the :meth:`~flask.Flask.route` decorator. Here are some examples:

@app.route('/login', methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def login():
    if request.method == 'POST':

If GET is present, HEAD will be added automatically for you. You don't have to deal with that. It will also make sure that HEAD requests are handled like the HTTP RFC (the document describing the HTTP protocol) demands, so you can completely ignore that part of the HTTP specification. Likewise as of Flask 0.6, OPTIONS is implemented for you as well automatically.

You have no idea what an HTTP method is? Worry not, here is a quick introduction to HTTP methods and why they matter:

The HTTP method (also often called "the verb") tells the server what the clients wants to do with the requested page. The following methods are very common:

The browser tells the server to just get the information stored on that page and send it. This is probably the most common method.
The browser tells the server to get the information, but it is only interested in the headers, not the content of the page. An application is supposed to handle that as if a GET request was received but to not deliver the actual content. In Flask you don't have to deal with that at all, the underlying Werkzeug library handles that for you.
The browser tells the server that it wants to post some new information to that URL and that the server must ensure the data is stored and only stored once. This is how HTML forms are usually transmitting data to the server.
Similar to POST but the server might trigger the store procedure multiple times by overwriting the old values more than once. Now you might be asking why is this useful, but there are some good reasons to do it this way. Consider that the connection gets lost during transmission: in this situation a system between the browser and the server might receive the request safely a second time without breaking things. With POST that would not be possible because it must only be triggered once.
Remove the information at the given location.
Provides a quick way for a client to figure out which methods are supported by this URL. Starting with Flask 0.6, this is implemented for you automatically.

Now the interesting part is that in HTML4 and XHTML1, the only methods a form can submit to the server are GET and POST. But with JavaScript and future HTML standards you can use the other methods as well. Furthermore HTTP has become quite popular lately and browsers are no longer the only clients that are using HTTP. For instance, many revision control system use it.

Static Files

Dynamic web applications need static files as well. That's usually where the CSS and JavaScript files are coming from. Ideally your web server is configured to serve them for you, but during development Flask can do that as well. Just create a folder called static in your package or next to your module and it will be available at /static on the application.

To generate URLs to that part of the URL, use the special 'static' URL name:

url_for('static', filename='style.css')

The file has to be stored on the filesystem as static/style.css.

Rendering Templates

Generating HTML from within Python is not fun, and actually pretty cumbersome because you have to do the HTML escaping on your own to keep the application secure. Because of that Flask configures the Jinja2 template engine for you automatically.

To render a template you can use the :func:`~flask.render_template` method. All you have to do is to provide the name of the template and the variables you want to pass to the template engine as keyword arguments. Here's a simple example of how to render a template:

from flask import render_template

def hello(name=None):
    return render_template('hello.html', name=name)

Flask will look for templates in the templates folder. So if your application is a module, that folder is next to that module, if it's a package it's actually inside your package:

Case 1: a module:


Case 2: a package:


For templates you can use the full power of Jinja2 templates. Head over to the :ref:`templating` section of the documentation or the official Jinja2 Template Documentation for more information.

Here is an example template:

<!doctype html>
<title>Hello from Flask</title>
{% if name %}
  <h1>Hello {{ name }}!</h1>
{% else %}
  <h1>Hello World!</h1>
{% endif %}

Inside templates you also have access to the :class:`~flask.request`, :class:`~flask.session` and :class:`~flask.g` [1] objects as well as the :func:`~flask.get_flashed_messages` function.

Templates are especially useful if inheritance is used. If you want to know how that works, head over to the :ref:`template-inheritance` pattern documentation. Basically template inheritance makes it possible to keep certain elements on each page (like header, navigation and footer).

Automatic escaping is enabled, so if name contains HTML it will be escaped automatically. If you can trust a variable and you know that it will be safe HTML (because for example it came from a module that converts wiki markup to HTML) you can mark it as safe by using the :class:`~jinja2.Markup` class or by using the |safe filter in the template. Head over to the Jinja 2 documentation for more examples.

Here is a basic introduction to how the :class:`~jinja2.Markup` class works:

>>> from flask import Markup
>>> Markup('<strong>Hello %s!</strong>') % '<blink>hacker</blink>'
Markup(u'<strong>Hello &lt;blink&gt;hacker&lt;/blink&gt;!</strong>')
>>> Markup.escape('<blink>hacker</blink>')
>>> Markup('<em>Marked up</em> &raquo; HTML').striptags()
u'Marked up \xbb HTML'
[1]Unsure what that :class:`~flask.g` object is? It's something in which you can store information for your own needs, check the documentation of that object (:class:`~flask.g`) and the :ref:`sqlite3` for more information.

Accessing Request Data

For web applications it's crucial to react to the data a client sent to the server. In Flask this information is provided by the global :class:`~flask.request` object. If you have some experience with Python you might be wondering how that object can be global and how Flask manages to still be threadsafe. The answer are context locals:

Context Locals

Insider Information

If you want to understand how that works and how you can implement tests with context locals, read this section, otherwise just skip it.

Certain objects in Flask are global objects, but not of the usual kind. These objects are actually proxies to objects that are local to a specific context. What a mouthful. But that is actually quite easy to understand.

Imagine the context being the handling thread. A request comes in and the webserver decides to spawn a new thread (or something else, the underlying object is capable of dealing with other concurrency systems than threads as well). When Flask starts its internal request handling it figures out that the current thread is the active context and binds the current application and the WSGI environments to that context (thread). It does that in an intelligent way that one application can invoke another application without breaking.

So what does this mean to you? Basically you can completely ignore that this is the case unless you are doing something like unittesting. You will notice that code that depends on a request object will suddenly break because there is no request object. The solution is creating a request object yourself and binding it to the context. The easiest solution for unittesting is by using the :meth:`~flask.Flask.test_request_context` context manager. In combination with the with statement it will bind a test request so that you can interact with it. Here is an example:

from flask import request

with app.test_request_context('/hello', method='POST'):
    # now you can do something with the request until the
    # end of the with block, such as basic assertions:
    assert request.path == '/hello'
    assert request.method == 'POST'

The other possibility is passing a whole WSGI environment to the :meth:`~flask.Flask.request_context` method:

from flask import request

with app.request_context(environ):
    assert request.method == 'POST'

The Request Object

The request object is documented in the API section and we will not cover it here in detail (see :class:`~flask.request`). Here is a broad overview of some of the most common operations. First of all you have to import it from the flask module:

from flask import request

The current request method is available by using the :attr:`~flask.request.method` attribute. To access form data (data transmitted in a POST or PUT request) you can use the :attr:`~flask.request.form` attribute. Here is a full example of the two attributes mentioned above:

@app.route('/login', methods=['POST', 'GET'])
def login():
    error = None
    if request.method == 'POST':
        if valid_login(request.form['username'],
            return log_the_user_in(request.form['username'])
            error = 'Invalid username/password'
    # this is executed if the request method was GET or the
    # credentials were invalid

What happens if the key does not exist in the form attribute? In that case a special :exc:`KeyError` is raised. You can catch it like a standard :exc:`KeyError` but if you don't do that, a HTTP 400 Bad Request error page is shown instead. So for many situations you don't have to deal with that problem.

To access parameters submitted in the URL (?key=value) you can use the :attr:`~flask.request.args` attribute:

searchword = request.args.get('q', '')

We recommend accessing URL parameters with get or by catching the KeyError because users might change the URL and presenting them a 400 bad request page in that case is not user friendly.

For a full list of methods and attributes of the request object, head over to the :class:`~flask.request` documentation.

File Uploads

You can handle uploaded files with Flask easily. Just make sure not to forget to set the enctype="multipart/form-data" attribute on your HTML form, otherwise the browser will not transmit your files at all.

Uploaded files are stored in memory or at a temporary location on the filesystem. You can access those files by looking at the :attr:`~flask.request.files` attribute on the request object. Each uploaded file is stored in that dictionary. It behaves just like a standard Python :class:`file` object, but it also has a :meth:`~werkzeug.FileStorage.save` method that allows you to store that file on the filesystem of the server. Here is a simple example showing how that works:

from flask import request

@app.route('/upload', methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def upload_file():
    if request.method == 'POST':
        f = request.files['the_file']

If you want to know how the file was named on the client before it was uploaded to your application, you can access the :attr:`~werkzeug.FileStorage.filename` attribute. However please keep in mind that this value can be forged so never ever trust that value. If you want to use the filename of the client to store the file on the server, pass it through the :func:`~werkzeug.secure_filename` function that Werkzeug provides for you:

from flask import request
from werkzeug import secure_filename

@app.route('/upload', methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def upload_file():
    if request.method == 'POST':
        f = request.files['the_file']
        f.save('/var/www/uploads/' + secure_filename(f.filename))

For some better examples, checkout the :ref:`uploading-files` pattern.


To access cookies you can use the :attr:`~flask.request.cookies` attribute. Again this is a dictionary with all the cookies the client transmits. If you want to use sessions, do not use the cookies directly but instead use the :ref:`sessions` in Flask that add some security on top of cookies for you.

Redirects and Errors

To redirect a user to somewhere else you can use the :func:`~flask.redirect` function. To abort a request early with an error code use the :func:`~flask.abort` function. Here an example how this works:

from flask import abort, redirect, url_for

def index():
    return redirect(url_for('login'))

def login():

This is a rather pointless example because a user will be redirected from the index to a page he cannot access (401 means access denied) but it shows how that works.

By default a black and white error page is shown for each error code. If you want to customize the error page, you can use the :meth:`~flask.Flask.errorhandler` decorator:

from flask import render_template

def page_not_found(error):
    return render_template('page_not_found.html'), 404

Note the 404 after the :func:`~flask.render_template` call. This tells Flask that the status code of that page should be 404 which means not found. By default 200 is assumed which translates to: all went well.


Besides the request object there is also a second object called :class:`~flask.session` that allows you to store information specific to a user from one request to the next. This is implemented on top of cookies for you and signs the cookies cryptographically. What this means is that the user could look at the contents of your cookie but not modify it, unless he knows the secret key used for signing.

In order to use sessions you have to set a secret key. Here is how sessions work:

from flask import Flask, session, redirect, url_for, escape, request

app = Flask(__name__)

def index():
    if 'username' in session:
        return 'Logged in as %s' % escape(session['username'])
    return 'You are not logged in'

@app.route('/login', methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def login():
    if request.method == 'POST':
        session['username'] = request.form['username']
        return redirect(url_for('index'))
    return '''
        <form action="" method="post">
            <p><input type=text name=username>
            <p><input type=submit value=Login>

def logout():
    # remove the username from the session if its there
    session.pop('username', None)
    return redirect(url_for('index'))

# set the secret key.  keep this really secret:
app.secret_key = 'A0Zr98j/3yX R~XHH!jmN]LWX/,?RT'

The here mentioned :func:`~flask.escape` does escaping for you if you are not using the template engine (like in this example).

How to generate good secret keys

The problem with random is that it's hard to judge what random is. And a secret key should be as random as possible. Your operating system has ways to generate pretty random stuff based on a cryptographic random generator which can be used to get such a key:

>>> import os
>>> os.urandom(24)

Just take that thing and copy/paste it into your code and you're done.

Message Flashing

Good applications and user interfaces are all about feedback. If the user does not get enough feedback he will probably end up hating the application. Flask provides a really simple way to give feedback to a user with the flashing system. The flashing system basically makes it possible to record a message at the end of a request and access it next request and only next request. This is usually combined with a layout template that does this.

To flash a message use the :func:`~flask.flash` method, to get hold of the messages you can use :func:`~flask.get_flashed_messages` which is also available in the templates. Check out the :ref:`message-flashing-pattern` for a full example.


Sometimes you might be in a situation where you deal with data that should be correct, but actually is not. For example you may have some client side code that sends an HTTP request to the server but it's obviously malformed. This might be caused by a user tempering with the data, or the client code failing. Most of the time, it's okay to reply with 400 Bad Request in that situation, but sometimes that won't do and the code has to continue working.

You may still want to log that something fishy happened. This is where loggers come in handy. As of Flask 0.3 a logger is preconfigured for you to use.

Here are some example log calls:

app.logger.debug('A value for debugging')
app.logger.warning('A warning occurred (%d apples)', 42)
app.logger.error('An error occurred')

The attached :attr:`~flask.Flask.logger` is a standard logging :class:`~logging.Logger`, so head over to the official logging documentation for more information.

Hooking in WSGI Middlewares

If you want to add a WSGI middleware to your application you can wrap the internal WSGI application. For example if you want to use one of the middlewares from the Werkzeug package to work around bugs in lighttpd, you can do it like this:

from werkzeug.contrib.fixers import LighttpdCGIRootFix
app.wsgi_app = LighttpdCGIRootFix(app.wsgi_app)