Configuring Pecan Applications

Pecan is very easy to configure. As long as you follow certain conventions, using, setting and dealing with configuration should be very intuitive.

Pecan configuration files are pure Python. Each “section” of the configuration is a dictionary assigned to a variable name in the configuration module.

Default Values

Below is the complete list of default values the framework uses:

server = {
    'port' : '8080',
    'host' : ''

app = {
    'root' : None,
    'modules' : [],
    'static_root' : 'public',
    'template_path' : ''

Application Configuration

The app configuration values are used by Pecan to wrap your application into a valid WSGI app. The app configuration is specific to your application, and includes values like the root controller class location.

A typical application configuration might look like this:

app = {
    'root' : 'project.controllers.root.RootController',
    'modules' : ['project'],
    'static_root'   : '%(confdir)s/public',
    'template_path' : '%(confdir)s/project/templates',
    'debug' : True

Let’s look at each value and what it means:

A list of modules where pecan will search for applications. Generally this should contain a single item, the name of your project’s python package. At least one of the listed modules must contain an app.setup_app function which is called to create the WSGI app. In other words, this package should be where your file is located, and this file should contain a setup_app function.
The root controller of your application. Remember to provide a string representing a Python path to some callable (e.g., "yourapp.controllers.root.RootController").
The directory where your static files can be found (relative to the project root). Pecan comes with middleware that can be used to serve static files (like CSS and Javascript files) during development.
Points to the directory where your template files live (relative to the project root).
Enables the ability to display tracebacks in the browser and interactively debug during development.


app is a reserved variable name for that section of the configuration, so make sure you don’t override it.


Make sure debug is always set to False in production environments.

Server Configuration

Pecan provides some sane defaults. Change these to alter the host and port your WSGI app is served on.

server = {
    'port' : '8080',
    'host' : ''

Additional Configuration

Your application may need access to other configuration values at runtime (like third-party API credentials). Put these settings in their own blocks in your configuration file.

twitter = {
    'api_key' : 'FOO',
    'api_secret' : 'SECRET'

Accessing Configuration at Runtime

You can access any configuration value at runtime via pecan.conf. This includes custom, application, and server-specific values.

For example, if you needed to specify a global administrator, you could do so like this within the configuration file.

administrator = 'foo_bar_user'

And it would be accessible in pecan.conf as:

>>> from pecan import conf
>>> conf.administrator

Dictionary Conversion

In certain situations you might want to deal with keys and values, but in strict dictionary form. The Config object has a helper method for this purpose that will return a dictionary representation of the configuration, including nested values.

Below is a representation of how you can access the to_dict() method and what it returns as a result (shortened for brevity):

>>> from pecan import conf
>>> conf
Config({'app': Config({'errors': {}, 'template_path': '', 'static_root': 'public', [...]
>>> conf.to_dict()
{'app': {'errors': {}, 'template_path': '', 'static_root': 'public', [...]

Prefixing Dictionary Keys

to_dict() allows you to pass an optional string argument if you need to prefix the keys in the returned dictionary.

>>> from pecan import conf
>>> conf
Config({'app': Config({'errors': {}, 'template_path': '', 'static_root': 'public', [...]
>>> conf.to_dict('prefixed_')
{'prefixed_app': {'prefixed_errors': {}, 'prefixed_template_path': '', 'prefixed_static_root': 'prefixed_public', [...]

Dotted Keys, Non-Python Idenfitiers, and Native Dictionaries

Sometimes you want to specify a configuration option that includes dotted keys or is not a valid Python idenfitier, such as (). These situations are especially common when configuring Python logging. By passing a special key, __force_dict__, individual configuration blocks can be treated as native dictionaries.

logging = {
    'root': {'level': 'INFO', 'handlers': ['console']},
    'loggers': {
        'sqlalchemy.engine': {'level': 'INFO', 'handlers': ['console']},
        '__force_dict__': True
    'formatters': {
        'custom': {
            '()': 'my.package.customFormatter'

from myapp import conf
assert isinstance(conf.logging.loggers, dict)
assert isinstance(conf.logging.loggers['sqlalchemy.engine'], dict)